Faith + Film: Jurassic Park

As part of an ongoing effort to actively engage with film beyond its entertainment value, this area of my website will be dedicated to looking at aspects of film as they reflect in my faith. Spoilers abound. Hope you enjoy.

When I first experienced Jurassic Park in 1993, awe and wonder are probably the two words to describe my movie-going experience. Seeing those dinosaurs in all their “terrible lizard” glory, I was mesmerized and to this day still consider Jurassic Park to be the gold standard when it comes to what a Summer blockbuster should be.

Revisiting this film as an adult recently, the awe and wonder was still there, but I found myself drawn into the ideas that were being communicated more than anything.

One of the themes that stood out to me was that of Hammond’s pursuit of this successful park. In no less than 6 or 7 instances, he reiterates that he’s “spared no expense” in order to make this park the successful venture that he wants it to be.  In a pivotal scene at a dinner table with Dr. Sattler, he talks about his flea circus and how successful that was. This leads into him talking specifically about the park, confessing that he  “wanted to create something that wasn’t an illusion.”

Throughout the film we see this character who seems to possess this dual motive when it comes to the success of Jurassic Park. On one side, he wants what he created to be shared with the world. He wants anyone and everyone to experience what he has created. But on the other side, I get a sense that he is willing to stop at nothing to make sure this park is a success, not just for the entertainment and awe and wonder of the potential patrons who would visit, but also to satisfy some ego-driven motive in himself. He seems to have his identity wrapped up in this park. There is a desperation, even, that we see in that conversation when he says “the next time it will be flawless.” Even in the midst of the chaos going on around him, his hope is still in the potential that there will be a next time, that someday his dream will become a reality. Does this make him a villain? I don’t believe so. More than anything, it kind of makes him a tragic character. I was reminded of something incredibly vital concerning my faith through Hammond’s character.

As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath.  – Ephesians 2:1-3.

What fascinates me about this description is the way in which Paul uses words to show duality of someone before his relationship with Jesus, being “dead” while “living.” He begins to paint a clear picture that as Christians, we were clearly something different than we are now. But who exactly are we, if we aren’t that? Paul goes on.

But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. – Ephesians 2:4-7.

Here he makes it clear that we are now alive with Christ, connected with him “in the heavenly realms.” It’s also clear that the motive is from God. It’s because of His great love for us that He did it, and it was Him who made us alive.

So What? If we are now alive with Christ, how are our lives any different. That’s a question that, I would imagine, the world asks of us every day. How does being connected with Jesus make me any different than the guy next door who is still “dead in [his] transgressions.” Is it enough just to live?

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. – Ephesians 2:8-10

Here Paul essentially sums up what I believe the Gospel is in a nutshell. First, grace through faith is the linchpin for salvation. That’s where it starts. Do we believe that Jesus, through his power, conquered death and rose again? Do we believe that we are separated from Jesus because of sin in our lives and that only that same power can save us from sin?

He then goes onto say that we are Gods “handiwork.” The Greek word used here is where we get the word “poem.” We are His poem, the result of His creativity, so in essence that’s where we connect. That’s where our identity comes from. But Paul goes onto say that it’s not enough just to identify with Christ. Our purpose, that further identifies us, is to “do good works.” He specifies this by saying that we are to do these things “in Christ Jesus.”

I believe that the life of a believer, the identity that someone who says “I am a follower of Jesus” is defined by these three verses. I go back to these when my identity is shaken, when I feel like I deserve some kind of accolade or when something I do goes unnoticed. Like Hammond, I have good intentions. I want the world to see what I have done, that the things I aspire to be great at have some kind of benefit, but when I lose myself in those things, when I care more about what others think than what Jesus does, I am no better than the man who “wanted to create something that wasn’t an illusion.”

If you want to hear more of my thoughts on the film from a cinematic standpoint, check out the Feelin Film episode HERE.


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