J.A. Bayona played a bittersweet version of John Williams’ ‘Jurassic Park’ melody to get his actors to emote during the sad moment.
[This story contains spoilers for Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom]
There’s a moment in Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom that may go down as one of the franchise’s most enduring images.
Owen (Chris Pratt), Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) and Franklin (Justice Smith) have escaped Isla Nublar on the last boat off the island before it’s destroyed by a volcano. The last thing they glimpse is a distressed Brachiosaurus on the dock, obscured by smoke and helpless to do anything as it awaits its death. It’s particularly poignant piece of symmetry, as a Brachiosaurus was the first dinosaur unveiled to audiences in 1993’s Jurassic Park. And this death is clearly affecting audiences today (just search “Brachiosaurus” on Twitter).
“That scene represents the ending of a dream that started 25 years ago,” director J.A. Bayona tells Heat Vision. “You are telling the ending of that island and the ending of that dream.”
Bayona ramped up the nostalgia on set to get his actors into the right emotional space, which is important when you are acting opposite a dot on a green screen.
“I played a very sweet and a little sad version of the Jurassic Park melody. So that was very effective for the actors, especially for Bryce,” says Bayona. “Being there, telling that story, listening to music from John Williams, they were all very emotional.”
The sad Brachiosaurus death follows an action-packed escape from the island as the lead characters flee a dinosaur stampede and end up in the water, with Claire and Franklin trapped inside a ball ride vehicle. Bayona placed a cameraman inside the vehicle with the actors and shot the scene as a single take to “help us create that sense of anguish and emotion and claustrophobia,” he notes.
But he says that even in the controlled environment of a movie set, he worried for his actors.
“They were inside the crystal ball that was sinking, trying to escape, and they were running out of air and it felt very dangerous from the outside,” says Bayona. “As a director, you try all the time to get that level of realism and try to capture the right emotion in the most expressive way.”
Fallen Kingdom is full of surprising empathy for its dinosaurs, with Blue, the ultra-smart Velociraptor introduced in 2015’s Jurassic World, taking on a larger role.
“People really connected with the idea of a human and a raptor connecting with each other, like most people do with their pets,” says Colin Trevorrow, who directed the first Jurassic World and co-wrote Fallen Kingdom with Derek Connolly.
Adds Pratt: “The dinosaurs [are] real characters. It’s great when you get to see their personalities on full display.”
Trevorrow is returning to direct Jurassic Park 3 and has said Fallen Kingdom “is about responsibility,” while the third installment “is about redemption.” In other words, now that people like Owen and Claire have learned they need to take responsibility for their roles in making Earth a Jurassic World, how will they redeem themselves? It’s easy to imagine Jurassic World 3 taking a page out of Matt Reeves’ recent Planet of the Apes films, which saw Andy Serkis’ Caesar and other ape characters become as relatable as the human ones. But the team isn’t getting specific on the plot.
Bayona worked to make sure Fallen Kingdom would get to where Trevorrow needed, but there were not many mandates.
“From time to time, he came to me and asked me to include a line or make a reference to some scenes in the movie, thinking about the third episode. But we never had a conversation in depth about it,” says Bayona.
Fallen Kingdom also introduces an unexpected element into the Jurassic Park mythos – the notion of a cloned human in the form of Maisie (Isabella Sermon), a clone of Benjamin Lockwood’s (James Cromwell) deceased daughter. For the filmmakers, Maisie gives the audience another way to understand the responsibilities of bringing life into the world through science. In the end, it is Maisie who decides to allow the dinosaurs to live, pressing a button to allow their escape from the fire happening inside her estate.
“You are bringing Maisie closer to the concepts the movie is talking about. It’s very interesting, this idea of creating empathy,” says Bayona. “We are talking about accepting what we don’t understand. You think we are talking about dinosaurs and there’s a moment that you find yourself connected to it … It’s a major step further in what Michael Crichton did in the past. Hopefully he would be very proud of it. ”
Fallen Kingdom ends with a shot of Blue, looking over a northern California neighborhood.
“We leave the island behind and then we set up a universe that we’ve never seen before. You have this cliffhanger at the end,” says Bayona. “I think Colin has a lot of possibilities in front of him right now.”
—Byron Burton contributed reporting