Features and Columns · Movies

‘Jurassic Park’ and the Narrative Power of Scale

Sometimes size does matter.
Jurassic Park Cinematography and framing
Universal Pictures
By  · Published on November 16th, 2020

Welcome to The Queue — your daily distraction of curated video content sourced from across the web. Today, we’re watching a video sharing what Jurassic Park can teach us about scale and composition.

There is so much to admire about the original Jurassic Park that identifying what, exactly, makes it so damn good feels like a bit of a fool’s errand. The temptation to gesticulate wildly at the whole thing is very strong.

Indeed, this is one of those rare films where every single lighting queue, performance, and detail of set design feels like it’s working in service of the story. Is there a more paralyzing moment of sound design than the roar of the T-rex? A more appropriately gargantuan score than that of John Williams? I know I’m not breaking any new ground with my “Jurassic Park? Good movie.” take, but holy smokes what a picture!

In that spirit, the video essay below zeros in on two elements that really capture what makes Steven Spielberg‘s film such a densely efficient piece of visual storytelling: scale and framing. After all, Jurassic Park is a film about the equal enormity of ancient beasts and human hubris. Director of photography Dean Cundey captures all this awe, fear, and arrogance with (among other things) clever blocking.

The essay concludes with the proposal that this is one of the essential ingredients lacking from the sequels. Namely: an appreciation for what Blockbuster cinematography is capable of: not only telling a story but making us feel something.

Watch “Why Jurassic Park Looks Better Than Its Sequels”:

Who made this?

This video is by Films&Stuff, a channel that specializes in dissecting blockbusters. Films&Stuff is run by Toronto-based film buff Jonathan Burdett. You can subscribe to them on YouTube here. And you can follow them on Twitter here.

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Meg Shields is the humble farm boy of your dreams and a senior contributor at Film School Rejects. She currently runs three columns at FSR: The Queue, How'd They Do That?, and Horrorscope. She is also a curator for One Perfect Shot and a freelance writer for hire. Meg can be found screaming about John Boorman's 'Excalibur' on Twitter here: @TheWorstNun. (She/Her).