The novel ‘Jurassic Park’ was written by Michael Crichton, and published in 1990. Most people know it as the inspiration for Steven Spielberg’s 1993 film, which has gone on to spawn one of the biggest franchises in film history. While both the book and film follow the same basic plot, the film excludes many scenes and storylines so that the story is more streamlined and is confined to just over two hours. Crichton’s novel, a sci-fi thriller, is much darker and more violent than the film. It spends much of its length discussing the mechanics of the park, paleontology, the ethics of de-extinction, and many other attendant issues because the author wants the reader to think about these issues. Steven Spielberg’s film is more of a family-adventure story with a tone is lighter, while keeping a good amount of the suspense from the novel. The focus of the movie is on the wonder and excitement of this incredible island with its amazing creatures.
Everyone who has seen Spielberg’s film ‘Jurassic Park’ remembers the opening scene. When a Velociraptor turns on its handlers inside of its transfer cage, as game warden Robert Muldoon watches helplessly as one of his co-workers gets eaten alive. The novel’s beginning, however, takes place on Costa Rica, rather than Isla Nublar, with members of a medical clinic admitting an injured InGen employee who was dropped off via a helicopter. The staff are told that the patient, a teenager of Latin-American descent, was injured in a construction accident, but his injuries resemble that of a vicious mauling, not a construction incident. The boy ends up dying from his injuries, but not before attempting to tell the staff that he was attacked by a raptor. If I’m being honest the reason that this was changed in the movie was one for run time restraints and two it’s just kind of boring whereas the mauling is unexpected and in your face.
The novel and movie have quite a few differences, with one of the most notable differences being the Compy (Procompsognathus) attack. Unlike the movie the novel spends a considerable amount of time ensuring a key chain reaction of events is set in motion from the InGen employee to children being killed and a young girl getting bitten. These all wind-up, making ‘Jurassic Park’ the failure, it is because it tells you from the beginning of the book that it isn’t safe and that dinosaurs are escaping and killing people. After a scene that was identical to the beginning of ‘The Lost World: Jurassic Park’, where a wealthy couple’s daughter is attacked by a pack of Compys, a group of scientists attempt to determine the identity of the creature responsible with the result only coming when doctor grant gets a phone call about it but it is never followed up on in the movie.
Another minor differing plot point in the novel is Dr. Grant and Dr. Sattler’s romance. The book depicts their relationship as strictly professional, without an ounce of romantic affection. Other than some insight into the two characters’ professional and academic backgrounds, neither of them are developed beyond their initial introduction. In the movie, their romance is a minor plot point which helps to make the characters more lifelike and relatable. The films characters had more personality and were overall more likable than their novel counterparts.
Another very minor somewhat noteworthy change between the books and movies are how dinosaurs are shown on screen and how they are described in the book. The book describes the Velociraptor as “dark yellow with brown stripes, like a tiger”, whereas the movie’s Velociraptor is just brown with later versions having stripes and different pupils. Overall, the book has a wider color range for the creatures while the movie has only basic designs and colors this is because of the restraints of CGI at the time as it had just been invented and the film taking place a night the darker colors give it a ‘scarer’ vibe.
Between the two versions, the novel features the most violent and bloodiest deaths. If the movie been a straight adaptation of Crichton’s book, it would’ve easily gotten an R rating, so it was in the interests of the film-makers to make a more family-friendly film. But humans aren’t the only ones who meet gruesome fates, as the dinosaurs themselves also get their just desserts. The characters in the novel go into crazy on their Dino adversaries. Along with shooting them, several raptors are blasted with an RPG which would have made for an awesome cinema moment. Would you believe that Michael Crichton didn’t like dinosaurs in fact that is why at the conclusion to the novel, a pack of Velociraptors are fed poisoned eggs. It is a clever somewhat sadistic, idea that didn’t make it into the movie probably for the best.
Finally, where the movie leaves open the possibility for a sequel, the novel is obviously written as a one-off as the bioengineered dinosaurs are exterminated for good. In the book, after the survivors escape from Isla Nublar, the Costa Rican Air Force bombs the island with napalm, presumably killing every dinosaur and the main characters being arrested. An ending like that assumes a sequel wouldn’t happen, but Steven Spielberg convinced Crichton to write a sequel which meant changing much of the original books ending in order to bring back formally deceased characters and species.