Friday, August 29, 2014

Favorite Scene Friday! Jurassic Park: Petticoat Lane

Today's scene was written by Jay from Life Vs Film.

August has been a pretty horrific month for losing legendary actors, claiming Robin Williams, Lauren Bacall and, most recently, Richard Attenborough. Originally I wanted to highlight one of Attenborough’s other films I love – The Great Escape, Flight of the Phoenix or The Sand Pebbles – but I knew that there’s really only one film a guy like me can talk about when Attenborough is brought up: Jurassic Park.

As much as I love the dinosaur-based action scenes, the moments of comedy and the general badassery of many of Jurassic Park’s bigger scenes, there is something touching and eminently watchable here, with Attenborough’s John Hammond, the creator of the attraction, lamenting the failure of his project.

The key factor here is that Hammond believes the catastrophic failures endured on Isla Nubar are merely a stepping stone towards the final endgame of a successful, fully functioning park, and the mistakes made this time around are areas to improve upon within the next project. It is up to Laura Dern’s Dr. Ellie Sattler to quash these dreams, and the moment of realization upon Hammond’s face when it finally sinks in that his dreams will never be successfully brought to life is just heart-breaking, preceding the saddest, most dejected use of his “Spared no expense” catchphrase.

It’s the moments like this – the storytelling and character beats – that don’t get discussed enough in films like Jurassic Park. Even without the conversation between Hammond and Sattler, there's the sheer amount of time and effort that’s gone into preparing the scene – the pillars in the restaurant are carved with fossil designs, there are shelves upon shelves of merchandise waiting to be sold. But through it all, there is Richard Attenborough, with a twinkle in his eye as his face lights up, reminiscing on how the children thought they could really see the fleas in his circus. In the end, he’s an old man, trying to bring some happiness into the world, and that is an aim not devoid of merit.

Richard Attenborough, R.I.P.


  1. Such a great moment to share here in respect of Richard's passing. This scene is one of my favorites too. His murmur of "Spared no expense" is so cheerless compared to the previous times in the film he announced it with such pride. This scene really captures how much hope and ambition Hammond had for the park. I also love when everyone is boarding the helicopter to leave, and Alan startles Hammond by patting him on the back; it's such a contrast from how they first arrived.

  2. Great scene, Jay. Jurassic Park has some of the best conversations put on film. The whole "you were so preoccupied with whether you could, you didn't stop to think if you should" lunch conversation scene is fantastic. And of course, this scene with the great Attenborough is so good. I love how defeated yet hopeful he is. The way he stumbles on the merry go-round/carousel bit of his talk is such a great little detail. I need to see more of his work.