Jurassic Park Cinematography - Featured Image

What makes Jurassic Park a timeless story? While there are many reasons, one of the most important is the fantastic screenplay. Despite its age, the Jurassic Park script is a monument to classic story-telling. In this breakdown, we will provide a Jurassic Park summary, as well as why this script stands tall above all of the sequels that follow.

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Jurassic Park Script Teardown - Michael Kiton Headshot (1)
Jurassic Park Script Teardown - David Koepp Headshot

WHO WROTE jurassic park script?

Written by Michael Crichton and David Koepp

Michael Crichton was an American novelist. He is the man who wrote Jurassic Park, Westworld, The Andromeda Strain and other great books. He studied English and medicine at Harvard. He would go on to co-write the Jurassic Park script and direct the movie Westworld (1973).

Michael Crichton passed away on November 4, 2008 due to complications from lymphoma.

David Koepp is an American screenwriter, known for Jurassic Park, Mission: Impossible, and Spider-Man.

STORY BREAKDOWN

STRUCTURE OF Jurassic Park SCREENPLAY

Here is the story structure for Jurassic Park screenplay:

Prologue

Muldoon and his crew are trying to put mysterious animals into a holding pen. They attack, killing one of the workers. Genaro explains that Hammond is being sued and that investors are nervous after the accident.

Exposition

Grant and Ellie uncover several dinosaur fossils, including a complete velociraptor skeleton. A child makes fun of Grant, so he uses a velociraptor claw to demonstrate how deadly the animals used to be.

Inciting Incident

Hammond meets Ellie and Grant in their trailer, helping himself to some champagne. Hammond offers to fund their dig site for a year, provided they join him at his new theme park.

Plot Point One

Nedry, a computer expert, meets with a shady character named Dodgson. They discuss the terms of their agreement: steal viable embryos from the island in exchange for thousands of dollars.

Rising Action One

Everyone hops into a couple of jeeps and drives further into the island. There, for the very first time, they see living dinosaurs, such as the brachiosaurus. 

Plot Point Two

The group arrives at the visitor’s center, where they are given a tour of the facility. Malcolm warns Hammond about how dangerous this process is; nature can’t be controlled. We meet Lex and Tim, Hammond’s grandchildren.

Plot Point Three

The tour is a bust. Further along, Grant and the others hop out of the jeeps to see a sick triceratops. Ellie decides to stay behind to help the dinosaur.

Rising Action Two

A heavy, tropical storm sweeps over the island. Nedry shuts down power all over Jurassic Park, giving himself a chance to steal the dinosaur embryos.

Midpoint

BOOM, BOOM, BOOM. The tyrannosaurus rex escapes, killing Genaro, and injuring Malcolm. Grant, Lex and Tim barely escape by going over the edge of the paddock.

Plot Point One

Arnold can’t get Jurassic Park back online without Nedry. Desperate, Hammond asks Muldoon and Ellie to go out and find his grandchildren.

Rising Action One

Nedry drives like a madman through the rain. He eventually crashes his jeep and is killed by a dilophosaurus.

Rising Action Two

Muldoon and Ellie arrive at the tyrannosaur paddock. They manage to find an injured Malcolm. BOOM, BOOM, BOOM. The three of them barely manage to escape from the T-rex.

Plot Point Two

Ellie and Hammond have a meal together in the restaurant. She reprimands Hammond for his arrogance and his ignorance; control was an illusion.

Plot Point Three

Arnold resets the computers, but the power to park needs to be reset as well. Ellie and Muldoon volunteer to go out and restart the power.

Rising Action Three

Ellie makes it to the shed and manages to restart the power. Meanwhile, Grant, Lex and Tim are climbing an electric fence; Tim is shocked and nearly killed.

Rising Action Four

Muldoon finds a raptor in the jungle. He quietly preps his gun and takes aim. A rustling from his blindside; clever girl. A second velociraptor pounces and kills Muldoon.

Rising Action Five

A pair of raptors slowly hunt their prey in the kitchen. Lex and Tim manage to lock one raptor in the freezer and escape from the other.

Build Up

Grant, Ellie, Lex and Tim are trapped in the control room. As Grant and Ellie hold the door against the raptor, Lex hacks the computer, restarting Jurassic park. Unfortunately, the raptor breaks in.

Climax

Grant, Ellie, Lex and Tim are flanked by a pair of velociraptors. Suddenly, the T-rex appears and kills both raptors, giving everyone a chance to escape.

Finale

Everyone manages to get off of the island. Lex and Tim sleep in Grant's arms as the helicopter flies away.

Jurassic Park Script Takeaway #1

Jurassic Park characters are complex

Movie studios are notorious for pouring millions of dollars into a movie, but not developing the script. Fortunately, the Jurassic Park screenplay does not have this problem.

The Jurassic Park plot revolves around the growth and development of two major characters: Alan Grant and John Hammond.

Grant starts off as a very pessimistic person that is stuck in his ways. In the beginning of the Jurassic Park screenplay, he hates technology and he hates kids. He even taunts and terrifies a kid that was mouthing off to him. We added the Jurassic Park script to the StudioBinder screenwriting software so we could examine this scene.

Jurassic Park Grant’s Raptor Speech  •  Read Full Scene

This scene serves two important functions. First, it gives Grant important characterization. He shows his contempt for children and his knowledge of dinosaurs. As the story develops, Grant is forced to interact with Hammond grandchildren, Lex and Tim. He pushes them away and ignores them every chance he gets.

However, when they are forced into life and death situations, Grant's true nature is revealed. He not only saves their lives time and again, but also becomes a surrogate father figure.

This scene also serves as an apt introduction to velociraptor behavior. Their ferocity, their intelligence and their pack hunting mentality paint a terrifying picture of the animals.

Later on, the raptors become some of the most dangerous animals at Jurassic Park, killing Muldoon and Arnold. 

Jurassic Park  •  Themes and Characters

Hammond is another Jurassic Park character that learns the error of his ways. Hammond is a genuinely good person, but he is extremely narrow-minded in his thinking. He believes that all of his power and money are greater than the forces of nature. Of course, everything goes awry and a lot of people die. It takes an emotional reprimand from Ellie before the gravity of arrogance is made apparent.

Jurassic Park Ellie Reprimands Hammond  •  Read Full Scene

All of this comes together in the Jurassic Park ending. Both Hammond and Grant agree that the park isn’t safe or salvageable. It is the growth of both of these characters that makes them relatable and drives the Jurassic Park screenplay. All of the dinosaurs and special effects in the World can’t save a script that has bland characters.

Jurassic Park Script Takeaway #2

Jurassic Park quotes are memorable

A story is truly memorable if people are constantly quoting it in pop culture. The Jurassic Park screenplay is full of fun, memorable lines that also serve the story well.

The Jurassic Park plot focuses heavily on the ethics of mankind and science versus nature. Perhaps the single most important quote in the Jurassic Park script comes from Ian Malcolm. After seeing the hatching of a velociraptor, Malcolm discusses the ethics of Jurassic Park. In philosophical fashion he says “Life finds a way.”

Jurassic Park Life Finds a Way  •  Read Full Scene

This quote foreshadows the inevitable downfall of the park as well as the dinosaurs’ ability to evolve.

Life Finds a Way Scene  •  Jurassic Park

Another important Jurassic Park quote comes from John Hammond. Throughout the script, he says “Spared no expense.” He throws this around as a point of pride, believing that his money gave him absolutely control; it didn’t.

The Jurassic Park script is full of great, quotable lines:

  • "Welcome to Jurassic Park."
  • "Clever girl."
  • "Hold onto your butts."
  • "Mr. Hammond, after careful consideration, I’ve decided not to endorse your park."
  • "You didn't say the magic word!"
  • "Dodgson, Dodgson. We got Dodgson here! See, nobody cares."
  • "T-rex doesn't want to be fed; he wants to hunt. You can't just suppress sixty-five million years of gut instinct."
  • "The lack of humility before nature that's been displayed here staggers me."

Jurassic Park Script Takeaway #3

Jurassic Park has great action

From the T-rex breaking out of its paddock, to the raptors hunting Muldoon, Jurassic Park has a variety of action sequences that build suspense and invigorate the imagination.

These scenes aren’t just for fluff; they add to the story. For example, when the dilophosaurus attacks Nedry.

Jurassic Park The Dilophosaurus Attacks  •  Read Full Scene

On the surface, this seems like just another dino kill. However, this scene does something very important; remove Nedry from the movie. Since he was the only person seemingly capable of fixing Jurassic Park, Nedry’s death raises the stakes and makes survival even more difficult.

Nedry’s Plan Goes Awry Scene  •  Jurassic Park

Of course, let’s not forget one of the most memorable action sequences. In the Jurassic Park ending, just when it seems there’s no escape for our Grant, Ellie, Lex and Tim, an unlikely “hero” arrives.

T-Rex vs Raptors Scene  •  Jurassic Park

What better way to end a movie about dinosaurs than to have a dinosaur fight? The action sequences in Jurassic Park were brilliantly written to advance the plot and complete the story, not just kill the characters.

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Jurassic Park is an outstanding story with great characters and special effects that mostly hold up to this day. If you want to continue reading screenplays, we have similar titles like The Avengers, The Matrix, and Star Wars: A New Hope in our screenplay database. Browse and download PDFs for all of our scripts as you read, write and practice your craft to become the next great screenwriter.

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