Jurassic World: Dominion filmmaker on why the world's environmental anxieties have propelled the film series

The dinosaurs have carried plenty of metaphorical baggage on their way to nearly $3 billion in box office

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Photos: AP
Photos: AP


Published: Sun 12 Jun 2022, 11:47 AM

Questions about the dangers of human tampering with nature have been in the DNA of the Jurassic Park films from the start, but they’ve been given a workout in the Jurassic World trilogy.

Under the stewardship of filmmaker Colin Trevorrow, who directed Jurassic World and the new Jurassic World: Dominion and co-wrote all three films including Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, the dinosaurs have carried plenty of metaphorical baggage on their way to nearly $3 billion in box office.

In Jurassic World, the reanimation of colossal beings from the past mirrored the movie’s own blockbuster reboot imperatives. Fallen Kingdom, with poachers and dinosaurs in crates, reflected the plight of endangered animals. Dominion, which returns original cast members Sam Neill, Laura Dern and Jeff Goldblum, casts dinosaurs around a planet with few safe habitats and rising threats of ecological imbalance.

In a recent interview, Trevorrow spoke about how environmental anxieties have propelled the film series and the new installment, Dominion, which is playing in UAE theaters.

These movies have centered on human responsibility for these creatures. Do you think about this trilogy as ultimately an animal-rights parable?

I do. I think that where we landed, we’re telling a story about how genetic power is extremely dangerous when wielded carelessly. But also the danger of displacing animals from their natural habitat and putting them into environments they don’t belong in.

In all three of these films, we’ve tended to tell a story about someone who saw dinosaurs, or genetic power, as an opportunity. If you look back on (Michael) Crichton’s work, ultimately, the message is one of humility in the face of the natural world.

Were you at all struck by the irony of shooting a movie with locusts during a time of plague?

Look, our world is heading toward imbalance in ways that we’re witnessing now. The consequences of it will be both predictable and unexpected. So we wanted to design an unexpected consequence of tamping with genetic power. We found it in sitting down with a few geneticists and scientists in Tel Aviv many years ago who laid out a scenario of ways the whole planet could be put in danger — specifically the food system — by the use of genetic mutilation.

This is the scenario they came up with when we asked them: “What’s the worst thing that can happen?”

After a lot of hand-wringing, movie theaters are approaching pre-pandemic levels of ticket sales. Are you confident about the state of moviegoing?

There’s been a lot of deep concern that, especially in the past six to eight months, has been proven to be unfounded. People will come out to the movies if you show them something they want to see. If anything, as someone who loves film, that makes me a little sad — we just don’t have the diversity of experience available for people in theaters like we used to.

It’s a certain kind of film — in this case, a film I’ve made. I’m thrilled that people are going to come see it. But I hope we’re going to return to a point when there’s all kind of different films in the theaters. I love that Everything Everywhere All at Once was the success that it was because we need those films, too.

Did making Jurassic World: Dominion through the pandemic influence the film at all?

We definitely felt all of us that same set of fears and, in a lot of cases, that sense of despair and hopelessness that every human being on the planet was probably feeling at the time. You can see that we made a movie that is imbued with how we were feeling while we were making it. It’s just woven throughout every frame, even smaller characters saying things like “We’re not going to be around much longer, anyway.” There’s a tone there that was a result of making the movie when we did.

So you’ve channeled your own climate anxieties into writing these films?

In a way, but it’s not just me. It’s everyone who made the film. The actors and I work very closely, along with Emily Carmichael, my co-writer. We really were able to dig deep into our fears. I don’t know if the other films were as connected to the experience we were having as we were having while making them as this one is. The first film, Jurassic World, is in some ways about itself, about the fact if there was money to be made, they would bring dinosaurs back regardless of what happened the last time.

The second film was absolutely about the trafficking of animals outside their natural habitat. I remember when Fallen Kingdom came out, there’s a volcano in the movie. And a volcano erupted two or three months before the movie came out. It was just unsettling that something we had placed in a science-fiction movie was happening in the real world.

So to you, the dinosaurs have been quite flexible metaphors.

I need to, just for me as a storyteller, understand why we’re making more of these films. Oftentimes, I’ll find my answer in connecting it to what I fear most as we continue to hurtle toward whatever consequence will come from our actions and decisions over the past century. (Pauses) It’s also really fun, too. It’s, like, super fun.

It’s quite a tonal span from the apocalyptic doom at the start of the film to the Indiana Jones-like finale.

Ultimately, I knew we had to land in a place of hope. I’m not here to tell people to despair forever. I wanted to make sure if we were going to talk about the scientific inevitability of the path that we’re on, we also landed in a place that would make people walk out of the theater and feel like with cooperation, with togetherness and with coexistence, we could potentially overcome this.

And with Sam Neill.

It helps.

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