June 21, 1993. Janet Jackson led the US charts with “That’s the Way Love Goes”, Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls won their third straight NBA title by defeating the Phoenix Suns in game 6. Nintendo released “The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening” on Game Boy. Plaid, Grunge, Baby-Doll dresses, and Doc Martens were all the rage. It was also a very memorable day for yours truly, as I graduated from Middletown High School in Middletown, CT. This was also the day that I saw Jurassic Park in the theaters.
Everyone looks back at their age of innocence with a pair of nostalgia-colored glasses, but for this impressionable 17 year-old, Jurassic Park was more than a movie; it was a glimpse into the future of cinema. Steven Spielberg’s epic tale (based on the Michael Crichton novel) thrust us into a world of cloning before the reality of Dolly the sheep, the ethics of reintroducing a long-extinct species into a modern world, and fast-paced action with velociraptors on the hunt with a taste of human flesh.
I grew up in a medium-sized city in central Connecticut. I was a poor only child of a single mom, without a lot of options. I didn’t get the grades I should have, because, honestly, what’s the point? I didn’t have the money for college, all of my friends would be off on their own journeys come fall and I would just get a full-time job and start my lifetime of working for the man. While I was happy to exit high school, the afternoon of the 20th wasn’t as exciting as it may have been for my fellow classmates because to me, all it meant was a loss of friends and the reality that childhood was officially over.
The graduation celebration was being held that night, so a few of us went to catch the matinée of the summer blockbuster of 93. Mind you, this was in the ancient times before the internet, so word of mouth was the advertising mechanism of the day. I knew it was about dinosaurs, but knew little else. What came next was a thrill ride of science, adventure, action, and an example of how a bunch of strangers can come together to form a family when confronted with the unbelievable.
Celebrating its Silver anniversary, Jurassic Park still passes the time test for CGI, plot, and execution. It also reminds me of the feeling that I had for two short hours 25 years ago that there is a much larger world out there, and that sometimes fantasy can be a refuge to the harsh reality of real life. Before you take the kids to see Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom this summer, I encourage you to revisit the original with them, and see what lost worlds they can find their imaginations in.