Hullo, my friends!
Before I post my “Fantastical and Felicitous Fictional Character Tag,” I was given a delightful little post by my good friend, Katie, the writer of Litmospheria. She is a current student of music composition and has her sights set on a career as a Hollywood film composer.
Kate wrote a lovely post on the score of the Steven Spielberg film, Jurassic Park. Written by John Williams, the score is truly one of the most delightful pieces of film music in the industry. Kate celebrates Williams’s conscious decision to make the score a beautiful masterpiece instead of a bone chilling horror score, which would have been justifiable. I really enjoyed reading it, and I hope you all do as well! 🙂
Be sure to check out her blog!
The first time I watched Jurassic Park, when I was about twelve, I didn’t actually realize how intense the movie was until the credits started rolling and I found that I couldn’t lift my hands from the sides of my chair. My knuckles were pure white from the strength with which I was gripping the wooden arms and I realized I physically hadn’t relaxed for probably the entire duration of the movie.
But even though the movie was scary to my twelve-year-old self, the overall impression the movie left me with wasn’t fear, it was awe. And a little annoyance as to why scientists thought it was a good idea to bring back hundreds of predators many times larger than most other species on Earth and then try to keep them contained with an (extremely fallible) electric fence, but I digress.
Awe was the emotion I felt most intensely, and is the impression I still have of Jurassic Park, though I haven’t seen it since. And I want to argue that this movie would not have left me with this impression had it not been for one amazingly crucial and gorgeous aspect of the movie: the score.
John Williams is a name most people know. Even if they can’t name any other film composers, they know who he is, just by his filmography. Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Jaws, E.T., Harry Potter, and of course, Jurassic Park are only some of the most well-known movies this world-famous composer is known for, and he is famous for a reason.
For example, with this movie in particular.
How many other composers, do you think, would have read the script and gone, “Oh, this is a horror movie. Dinosaurs, people getting ripped apart and eaten, easy,” and scored the film with screaming strings, all jagged and torn edges and a sense of dread? A typical gory thriller.
But not John Williams.
He looked at the story and didn’t see blood and violence, he saw dinosaurs. Dinosaurs. Gigantic, majestic creatures straight from the pages of children’s storybooks. The miracle of science. History come to life. It’s just as exciting as it would be if you got to walk the streets of ancient Rome for yourself.
Imagine if scientists were able to bring back these creatures in real life – ignoring all the negative consequences like this movie graphically details – wouldn’t that be so amazing? God has given the human race the ability to do so many amazing things and I truly believe humanity can accomplish whatever it puts its mind to because we are creators like our Father.
And that’s the whole point. Williams’ theme, played at key moments through the movie, reminds you of this. The wonder. The beauty. The achievements of science, the majesty of these dinosaurs, and the amazing ability of man.
John Williams looked at this gory world where everything goes wrong, and saw beauty.
This is what God does for us. Our world is broken and dirty and gory because of sin and he looks past it and sees us. His beautiful creation, fallen but still capable of wonderful things. And everyone unconsciously needs to know that. That they are beautiful even though they fail. I think that this is why not only the movie, but the entire franchise succeeded. It’s not about the dinosaurs, it’s about the beauty. And Jurassic Park shows us that through its music.
It’s a composer’s job to look at a movie and explain to its audience what is not directly evident on the screen. To see the best in a bad situation. To see the worst in a seemingly good one. To warn the audience of deception and hint at greater connections than are noticeable on first impression. Emotions and symbolism and empathy – music communicates what words and images cannot.
John Williams was able to take this intense, bloody thriller and give it a main theme that audiences will not only always associate with Jurassic Park, but will cement the film in audiences’ minds as more than just another scary movie.
And it’s not to say that the score for Jurassic Park doesn’t have any dissonance or tension in it – it does. There’s plenty of scary moments, plenty of action and horror. But the theme, the romantic, idealistic, beautiful main theme, is the one you will be humming long after the credits stop rolling.
Thanks for a great post, Kate! It’s been a pleasure to host you 🙂
Until next time, friends!