*Read John Williams’ biography here
This 1993 film was another collaboration with Steven Spielberg. This, the first of five movies, is based on the Michael Crichton novel of the same name. It’s set on an island near Costa Rica where a billionaire philanthropist and his team of genetic scientists have created a dinosaur wildlife park. Industrial sabotage causes a shutdown of the park’s power upon which the site’s security relies and a group of visitors struggle to survive and escape the island. The movie stars Sam Neill, Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum, Richard Attenborough and Samuel L. Jackson.
It was only a month from when John Williams started to compose the score until it was recorded. He said he felt he needed to write “pieces that would convey a sense of awe and fascination” given it dealt with the “overwhelming happiness and excitement” that would come from seeing living dinosaurs. Naturally, the suspenseful scenes when the dinosaurs attack required more frightening themes.
The first phrase (heard most frequently) is my favourite – the Theme from Jurassic Park. It’s first heard when the visitors see the Brachiosaurus (the long necked grass eating dinosaurs). Williams describes the music as “gentle religioso cantilena lines” which were an attempt to “capture the awesome beauty and sublimity of the dinosaurs in nature”. This theme is widely regarded as one of his greatest compositions.
A second theme is a noble fanfare first heard when the helicopter approaches the island. This, along with the Theme, are reused so they become the overarching theme for the park itself, to “convey the beauty of what the visitors were seeing”.
The third theme is very different and comprises four menacing notes. It’s heard most often in scenes involving carnivorous dinosaurs (like the raptors). Williams drew inspiration from his previous suspenseful music like the shark theme from Jaws.
I absolutely love this music and encourage you to listen to the full Theme from Jurassic Park (the clip below). The swell of the music is uplifting and beautiful. I can’t listen to this music without smiling. That’s good music. Does this music cheer you up? Inspire you? Make you smile?