Body Horror, Justice and Covid-19 in ‘Jurassic Park’

‘Entertainment is antithetical to reality’[1]

Michael Crichton’s novel ‘Jurassic Park’ is certainly that, to the point where the readers are relieved by it. Crichton’s novel about genetically engineered dinosaurs running amok is a thrilling read, even if it’s not quite the same as actually seeing the dinosaurs for real on the big screen. What is omitted from the novel is the mass amounts of blood and body horror, which serve well to emphasise the threat, and nature, of the Jurassic monsters that roam the novels’ pages.

I mean, we aren’t even ten pages in and there’s already ‘blood everywhere’ after a worker is attacked by a Velociraptor.[2] Next thing you know there’s baby dinosaurs tearing out ‘a ragged chunk of flesh from a baby’ in a hospital.[3] These early scenes set up the threat of the dinosaurs, and tell the reader, before any character sets foot on the island, that the park is a big, bad idea. These initial incidences of violence don’t compare to the fate of Dennis Nedry however, who is caught by a dinosaur on his way to deliver stolen embryos to a rival company.

In the film, we know the dinosaur attacks Nedry, but we only see this through the translucent front window of his jeep. The book is far more graphic, with Nedry first going ‘blind’ after being covered in the Dilophosaurus’ acidic saliva. He then realises that his stomach has been ‘torn’ open by the dinosaur, and that his ‘intestines’ were ‘in his hands.’[4] Lovely stuff. It’s one thing to marvel at a dinosaur, but it’s another thing to come up close to it, and the frankest man in the novel, Ian Malcolm, astutely reminds John Hammond that these dinosaurs are ‘alive,’ they are not passive objects to be stared at.[5]

Henry Wu too suffers later on in the novel but instead at the claws of the Velociraptors, who tear open Wu’s stomach and begin to munch on his intestines while he ‘was still alive.’[6] This is quite different to the film as Wu doesn’t actually die, and has popped up more recently in Colin Trevorrow’s Jurassic World films. There is a real obsession with intestines in the novel to be honest, and we even get a glimpse of a Velociraptors’ insides later on… but I thought two rounds of intestines was enough. It’s obvious as to why the novel is so bloody, as it’s trying to drum home the majority of Ian Malcolm’s remarks, that dinosaurs cannot be controlled. Wu claimed that they could be and look what happened to him. The novel is an exciting one, but to me it appeared primarily as a warning against genetic research, and more importantly, as a warning against messing with Mother Nature.

There’s a strange sort of natural justice in the novel, as the creator of the park himself is eaten by Compsognathus’. Note that this doesn’t happen in the film. John Hammond is oddly chilled about being eaten alive in the novel, and only feels a ‘slight pain’ when the dinosaurs begin to ‘chew his neck.’[7] Hammond didn’t really accept that his park was massively flawed in the novel and remained faithful to the last. It’s kind of fitting that he is consumed by the world that he wished to revive and recreate. He finds himself at the mercy of the Jurassic world, and it seems that he is honoured by this, as recreating the Jurassic era was his dream. In recreating the Jurassic world he was also responsible for all of the sufferings of the dinosaurs at the hands of humanity within the novel, so there is some sort of justice in there, as the dinosaurs take out the man that brought them back, caused them pain, and sort to use them in some crazy prehistoric circus.

We jump to Covid-19 now, and my ability to pretty much link anything to it. When commenting on the chaos within the park, Ian Malcolm notes that they ‘can’t see the other side until you’re there.’[8] We don’t know what the country, or even the world, will look like following the end of this crisis, and therefore maybe it’s best not to worry. It doesn’t really do much good for anyone’s mental health. We don’t know what will happen, and how everyone will emerge, we just have to wait until we get there. Even though the wait may still be quite long, try to rest easy, as the reality of the situation is that, as we see in ‘Jurassic Park,’ ‘life finds a way.’[9]

Thanks for reading!

Stay safe, stay inside. Read something cheerful.

[1] Michael Crichton, Jurassic Park, (London, Arrow Publishing, 1991) p. 123.

[2] Ibid., p. 7.

[3] Ibid., p. 27.

[4] Ibid., p. 196.

[5] Ibid., p. 305.

[6] Ibid., p. 334.

[7] Ibid., p. 392.

[8] Ibid., p. 313.

[9] Ibid., p. 161.

Published by harpalkhambay

I am an English Literature and History graduate, and wanted a space to explore topics within those fields that interest me.

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