Anatomy of a Scene: Jurassic Park's T-Rex Introduction 

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We don't see it until about an hour into the movie, but the Tyrannosaurus rex in Spielberg's Jurassic Park -- and the scene that builds up to its violent arrival -- is the best in the film, the 3D version of which hits theaters on Friday. We break down the suspenseful introduction -- the screaming children, the running lawyer and that goddamned flashlight -- of the film's lumbering monster. By Voice Film Club.

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The goat establishes that we're back in the paddock, while also sneakily priming us for the much more shocking shot later, when the goat will be gone.
Dr. Grant returns to his vehicle after checking on the kids in their identical Jurassic Park-branded SUV. This shot clearly establishes the scene's geography and the characters' place in it.
Tim digs up night vision goggles. Like all Spielberg kids, he's enchanted by the wonder of his dangerous situation.
Tim's night vision gives us a new (literal) perspective on the action and reinforces the geography of the scene, something that doesn't ever happen in Transformers.
In contrast to the children's wonder, their supervising adult is entirely checked out. This character has no respect for their fantastic world, and will be the first to be chucked from it.

In Spielberg, time is fluid. The anticipation of approaching danger is in this case every bit as frightening as the danger itself. Shaking water indicates the approach of the Tyrannosaurus Rex twice in Jurassic Park. At the climax, when it's more suspenseful for the dinosaur to arrive unannounced, there are no cups or puddles around.
The lawyer, Gennaro, is startled by the approaching footsteps. "M-Maybe it's the power trying to come back on," he suggests, still not fully invested in the dangers or wonder that the children understand.
Gennaro searches the rearview mirror but finds nothing.
Tim, though, is the first to see true evidence of the danger. That goat is lunch.
Lex the vegetarian knows. Gennaro still doesn't.

Oh, here's the goat.
With the finesse of a burlesque performer, the T-Rex makes her entrance toe-first.
This is what it's all been building to; the dinosaur roars, and our vantage point is quite literally the highest it will be in the scene.
Gennaro at last understands the danger and, not being equal to it, he flees -- abandoning the kids.
Tim no longer has to search the night for his wonder or danger; he discards his goggles.
Still fleeing, the lawyer enters the nearest shelter -- an outhouse. (This is an odd thing to have in the most dangerous section of a park for wild animals.)
Dr. Malcolm: "When you gotta go, you gotta go."
This is what you paid for, people. The bonus is all the superb scenecraft that comes before.
The crew actually built an animatronic dinosaur head, giving this beast a weight and power many computer effects still lack today. Dr. Grant warns Dr. Malcolm: "Keep absolutely still -- its vision's based on movement!"
Having no adult in the car, Lex does exactly the opposite of what we've just learned she should do.
Her flashlight draws the dinosaur's attention.
In the next three shots, the dinosaur harrows the children.
Good lord, this shit is terrifying.
The dinosaur can't get in, so it flips the SUV.
There is no music. The soundtrack is all wrenching metal, dinosaur howls, and screaming children.
Next, a trio of faces, as the scene becomes about character rather than geography: Dr. Malcolm's wide eyes and heavy breathing remind us that even he fears the chaos that he predicts.
The kids are alright but terrified. Lex's anguished face justifies the foolhardy bravery of the following shots -- even if the people taking action don't actually see it.
Here's what Dr. Malcolm is up against, in case you'd forgotten.
At last, a hero. You can tell by his hat; squint and it could be Harrison Ford.
An Old West showdown. Dr. Grant distracts the beast with a flare.
Dr. Malcolm overcomes his fear to do the same.
The dinosaur rampages. For once, Gennaro sees what's coming.
He's left in the most vulnerable position of all.

 
Dr. Grant at last silences the panicking child and tells her the rules of this fantasy: If you don't move you can't be seen.
So potent is this image, it became central to the film's original marketing campaign.
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The goat establishes that we're back in the paddock, while also sneakily priming us for the much more shocking shot later, when the goat will be gone.