The Nameless Horror

Jurassic Park: Remembering Petticoat Lane

Yesterday I alluded on Twitter to stealing from by far my favourite scene in Jurassic Park (I’d link, but their stupid cocking #! URL syntax renders such things hopeless). I don’t have a video of it - the only version on YouTube is heavily cut and that rather ruins the point of the whole “death of an old man’s dream” thing - but here it is, in script form:

94  INT RESTAURANT  NIGHT

ELLIE comes into the darkened restaurant, following the source
of the flickering light.  A candle burns at a table in the corner.

JOHN HAMMOND sits at the table, alone.  There is a bucket of ice
cream in the middle, and he's eating a dish of it, staring down
morosely.

Ellie draws up to the table and Hammond looks up at her.  His
eyes are puffy, his hair is messed up - - for the first time we've seen
him, the fire is gone from his eyes.

    HAMMOND
It was all melting.

Ellie just nods.

    ELLIE
Malcolm's okay for now.  I gave him a shot of morphine.

    HAMMOND
They'll all be fine.  Who better to get the children
through Jurassic Park than a dinosaur expert?

Ellie nods.  Another pause.  Hammond breaks it again.

    HAMMOND (cont'd)
You know the first attraction I ever built when I came
down south from Scotland?  Was a Flea Circus, Petticoat
Lane.  Really quite wonderful. We had a wee trapeze, a
roundabout - - a merry-go - - what you call it?

    ELLIE
Carousel.

    HAMMOND
A carousel - - and a seesaw.  They all moved, motorized
of course, but people would swear they could see the
fleas.  "I see the fleas, mummy!  Can't you see the
fleas?" Clown fleas, high wire fleas, fleas on parade...
    (he trails off)

Ellie just looks at him, not sure what his state is.  He goes
on.

    HAMMOND
But with this place, I - - I wanted to give (show) them
something real, something that wasn't an illusion,
something they could see and touch.  An aim
devoid of merit.

    ELLIE
But you can't think through this one.  You have to feel
it.

    HAMMOND
You're absolutely right.  Yes, you're right.  Hiring
Nedry was a mistake, that's obvious.    We're over-
dependent on automation, I can see that now.  But that's
all correctable for the next time around.

    ELLIE
John, John.  John, you're still building onto that Flea
Circus, that illusion.  And now you're adding onto it by
what you're doing here.  That's the illusion.

    HAMMOND
Once we have control again we - -

    ELLIE
Control?!  You never had control!  I was overwhelmed by
the power of this place.  So I made a mistake too.  I
didn't have enough respect for that power, and it's out
now.  You're sitting here trying to pick up the pieces.
John, there's nothing worth picking up.  The only thing
that matters now are the people we love.  Alan, Lex, and
Tim.  And John, they're out there where people are dying
- - people are dying, you know?

There is a long pause.  Hammond avoids her gaze.  Ellie reaches
out and takes a spoon out of one of the buckets of ice cream, and licks
it.  Finally:

    ELLIE (cont'd)
It's good.

He looks up at her, and his face is different, as the unhappy
irony of what he's about to say finally hits home.

    HAMMOND
Spared no expense.

Lovely stuff. For what it’s worth, the only thing actually stolen is that a character, at a time of disaster, eats ice cream in a power cut, and I’m pretty sure that’s a common thing - ice cream is one of nature’s comfort foods, after all. But it made me think back, all the same.