Rewatched Jun 24, 2012
Holy wow, did this hold up.
I haven't seen this since I saw it as a child, maybe at the drive-in? I actually don't remember a lot about that viewing experience, but I'm pretty sure of two things - I was probably terrified for most of the movie. And little nerdy me was probably annoyed that a lot of the harder science stuff was omitted (I loved dinosaurs, I was really nerdy, and I was a big Michael Crichton fan = I was an annoying child).
Watching it now, almost 20 years later, I see how perfect a Hollywood film it really is. Everything has a reason for being, everyone has pretty clear goals, motivations, and weaknesses, and there are clear narrative and character trajectories. And through that, it taps into some universal well of emotion by creating absolutely indelible images and experiences (and through an (over-)reliance on close ups to show emotion and investment in characters, but whatever). Even though I hadn't seen it in 20 years, I could still immediately call up almost perfect screenshots in memory. That's a great and lasting film.
I also thought the effects held up really well, with that blend of animatronics and CGI. One of the most interesting things I read was about the attempt to use a type of stop-motion animation for long shots of the dinosaurs - when this technique plus motion blur still failed to give the desired effect, CGI was tried.
"Animators Mark Dippe and Steve Williams went ahead in creating a computer-generated walk cycle for the T. rex skeleton and were approved to do more. When Spielberg and Tippett saw an animatic of the T. rex chasing a herd of Gallimimus, Spielberg said, "You're out of a job," to which Tippett replied, "Don't you mean extinct?" Spielberg later wrote both the animatic and his dialogue between him and Tippett into the script, as a conversation between Malcolm and Grant." (happy ending, the stop-motion animators were re-trained as computer animators.)
Also, this movie is the best because it gave us a film score that felt like a reward when we got to play it in orchestra.