Ladies and gentlemen, “Jurassic Park – The ultimate visual history” is a perfect movie book!
I mentioned earlier that the first Jurassic Park trilogy was quite an event for me. I was a dinosaur fan in my childhood and thanks to the first film, a certain fascination has always remained. Sure, the joy was great when the series continued in 2015 with Jurassic World and more films were announced right away. A new triolgy was born, which now finds its conclusion with Jurassic Word: A New Age. The fallen kingdom I found only moderate and Jurassic World was already not the big hit, but since Laura Dern, Sam Neill and Jeff Goldblum are back in front of the camera for the first time and both triologies will be merged, the anticipation is simply huge.
A theatrical release of such a mega-franchise is of course always accompanied by tons of merchandise. Dinos are (fortunately!) omnipresent again right now. Among all the more or less useful items (Jurassic Park cookbook!) there is one that really interests me. Panini has published a compendium on the complete film series that makes a good impression. As a fan of the series and a great nostalgic, I got it and I’ll introduce it briefly. Because it’s incredibly good!
Love for the fan’s heart
The book is a real piece of work to begin with: Hardcover, 256 pages, plus 19 supplements/extras. It feels heavy in the hand and makes a very valuable impression. It is written by James Mottram, a distinguished film journalist. In addition to countless film reviews in newspapers, he has written many film books, e.g. on Tenet or Dunkirk. A passion for film, but especially for Jurassic Park, is evident on every page of the book. The fact that we have here a work with high standards is also made clear by the many guest contributions: The foreword is by Sam Neill, the introduction is by Laura Dern, and the afterword was written by Jeff Goldblum. More nostalgia would only be possible if Spielberg or Crichton had been involved.
In terms of content, the first three Jurassic Park films are covered plus a chapter on the legacy of the original trilogy. Jurassic World and especially the new film are thus barely covered. Anyone hoping for info on the current film will come up empty here. But that is not the claim of the book.
The German edition at Panini* is a translation of the English original at Insight Editions* and seems to be a 1 to 1 transfer. The fact that Panini fortunately also publishes such high-quality products, should be beaten around the ears of everyone who still only thinks of stickers at Panini.
For 49,00€ you can get the German edition – not cheap, but in my eyes a completely reasonable price. You get an incredible amount for your money here and in a really well-made edition. So let’s take a look.
A look into the book
You can already tell from the cover what’s going on throughout the book: There are an incredible number of concept drawings, visuals and storyboards. This not only provides a constant dino feeling, but also gives a good impression of the development history. Photos from the movies, from the set, from the first concepts or promo material can be found on every page. An appealing layout in the style of the original Jurassic Park rounds off the excellent overall impression.
Let’s take a look at the table of contents. As mentioned, the three original films are presented. With 118 pages, the first part of the film takes up almost half of the volume, but that only makes sense: The development was very elaborate and the sequels could draw on the previous work in almost everything. You just have to explain how the mecharonian model of the T-Rex works.
In terms of content, the book really has a lot to offer. The texts are not a Maketing-Blabla with nice photos, but well-founded information about the genesis. I found the pre-production particularly exciting. How did Spielberg get the material, what part did the author of the original Michael Crichton and how did they approach this project now. Since I have been more involved with dinos in recent years due to my young son, I am aware of how influential and decisive Jurassic Park dinos are for our current perception. So I found the chapter on the “movement bible” written by lead animator Randal Dutra interesting, for example. After all, one can only guess how the dinosaurs moved. Dutra therefore precisely studied the movement patterns of contemporary animals and used them to develop movement sequences for the dinos. The gait of the ostrich, for example, was taken into account.
Such background information can be found in abundance, and for me it is what makes the compendium so appealing.
The book comes with 19 extras scattered between the book pages. They are tucked in or fixed and can be easily removed. Some are useful inserts, others nice gimmicks. I consider the latter to be, for example, a copy of a vehicle identification tag from the first movie, Dennis Nedry’s InGen ID card, or the cover of Dr. Alan Grant’s best-selling book “Dinosaur Detectives,” which Tim enthusiastically carries around in the first movie. Nice find the blueprint of the raptor enclosure from the first film or a multi-page storyboard for the legendary not-in-high-grass scene from Forgotten World.
I also liked the final chapter, “The Jurassic Legacy,” which describes the aftermath of the first film in particular. I didn’t expect to be so pleased to be presented in detail with the merchandise of the films, which after all partly shaped my childhood. Didn’t we all have figurines to go with the film back then?
As you can see, I could tell you a lot. I unreservedly recommend the compendium to Jurassic Park fans, but film fans will also get their money’s worth. From the idea, to the script and initial designs, to casting and shooting, to post-production and marketing, every step of the making is documented in detail. As both a Jurassic Park and film fan, I am thrilled with books like this and can only hope that we will see works like this many more times. If you’re interested in the book, feel free to check it out as well:
Jurassic Park – The ultimate Visual History*