Hannibal Lecter (#110 of 2)

Jurassic Park as a Means of Discussing Fractals, Chaos Theory, and Scary Movies

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Jurassic Park as a Means of Discussing Fractals, Chaos Theory, and Scary Movies
Jurassic Park as a Means of Discussing Fractals, Chaos Theory, and Scary Movies

With the arrival of the 20th anniversary, 3D re-release of Jurassic Park, what I’d like to convince you of is that the film watered down, significantly, the soul of the novel from which it was based (and we’re talking about a Michael Crichton page-turner for Christ’s sake). Instead of being the kind of decadent, lost-in-the-jungle, labyrinthine cinematic fever dream it could’ve been—one in which the production of the film would’ve eerily re-enacted and factually re-performed the hallucinatory chaos of what it was trying to fictionally record (a la Coppola’s Apocalypse Now or Herzog’s Fitzcarraldo, and their respective making-of docs, Hearts of Darkness and Burden of Dreams), Spielberg’s Jurassic Park instead played it safe, and did so in a way that was slick, corporate, and patronizing to its audience. And one of the ways it punted artistically was to almost entirely purge from Crichton’s novel its heavy theorizing about chaos theory and fractals, which, in those days (the late ’80s/early ’90s), had just made its way into the intellectual mainstream. I’d like to briefly make the point that this was a grievous mistake (for the movie), because chaos theory and fractals have everything to do with scary movies, and horror and terror and the kind of man-eating monstrosities Spielberg and his team put so much goddamned time and money into making look realistic.

Poster Lab: Hitchcock

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Poster Lab: <em>Hitchcock</em>
Poster Lab: <em>Hitchcock</em>

The one-sheet for Hitchcock may turn out to be the 2012 poster that makes the strongest statement. More than just announcing a film’s release, this simplistic and darkly ironic ad marks a bold move for Fox Searchlight Pictures, and augments their reputation as a studio wont to crash the Oscar season with a surprise contender. Still in production as recently as this past spring, the movie, based on Stephen Rebello’s book Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho, wasn’t expected to be prepped as awards bait. It’s suddenly set to drop on November 23, and the poster serves as its coming-out party, brandishing the first peek of Anthony Hopkins as the portly suspense master.

As the movie, like the book, charts the lead-up to the release of Hitchcock’s most famous title, the poster loosely adopts the Psycho title font, which is aptly cocked to further imply a tinge of black comedy. It’s a tone directly reflective of the late auteur’s trademark film intros, which presented a harmless-looking host who gingerly welcomed viewers to scream their guts out. “Good evening,” reads the tagline on the dinner-party design, and the words have an irony all their own, as they’ve been uttered not only by Hitchcock, but by Hopkins in a memorable scene from Hannibal. It may not be fate, but it’s serendipitously spooky.