The wonder and thrill of Jurassic Park can be summated in the iconic moment when Dr. Grant (Sam Neill) and Dr. Sattler (Laura Dern) see a brachiosaurus for the first time, but Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum) doesn’t react with awe for the movie’s big dinosaur scene for a very important reason. John Hammond (Richard Attenborough) has invited the paleontologist, paleobotanist, and mathematician for the weekend to review his theme park filled with dinosaurs, promising them the unique chance to study living creatures they’ve only seen in history books or identified by their bones. Neither Hammon nor his guests can imagine the horror that awaits when the park’s inhabitants run rampant.
Unlike the other guests in the party, Malcolm is impressed by very little Hammond has to offer, and even when a T rex breaks free from its paddock, he doesn’t seem nearly as surprised as the others at the danger erupting all around them. While Malcolm may be simply trying to play it cool, either to convince himself or Dr. Sattler that he’s incapable of showing fear, the source material points to a pivotal reason why Malcolm behaves the way he does. Steven Spielberg’s film can’t possibly fit everything from Michael Crichton’s novel into his film of the same name, but this piece of information helps clarify Malcolm’s nonchalance.
Ian Malcolm Already Knew About The Dinosaurs
While it’s not made explicitly clear in the movie, the Jurassic Park novel clarifies that unlike Dr. Grant or Dr. Sattler, Ian Malcolm already knew about the dinosaurs before coming to Isla Nublar. He’d been working with Hammond and his lawyer, Donald Gennaro, so when he says, “You did it, you son of a b**** you did it,” he’s simply verifying that Hammond has completed his experiment. In the book, Gennaro is the lawyer acting on the investor’s behalf rather than on his financial interest, who visits Isla Nublar with the chaos theorist to determine if the park is safe.
Unfortunately, the lawyer doesn’t make sense in Jurassic Park but does in the book, and parts of Malcolm’s character feel a bit disconnected from everything else going on around him. However, for these new characters to operate within the movie’s logic, Gennaro (who survives at the end of the book) must be eaten by the T Rex, while Malcolm, who dies in the book Jurassic Park after succumbing to his injuries from the T Rex attack, must be the one to live. His indefatigable sense of calm helps Malcolm develop into an even more iconic character in the franchise, even if it originally came from a place of intellectual depth.
Why Hammond Hired A Mathematician
It might seem confusing at first that Hammond hires paleontologists and lawyers and a mathematician instead of a structural engineer, but aside from Michael Crichton being very interested in Chaos Theory himself, in the book Ian Malcolm serves as a foil for all the scientists who think they can control the randomness of the natural world. Hammond thinks if there’s one person whose opinion will matter most, it’s someone who’s already highly skeptical of what he’s accomplishing. In essence, he sets himself up against the toughest audience and the biggest devil’s advocate to ensure that if he wins them over, Jurassic Park will be a success.
In this way, Malcolm serves as Crichton’s earpiece, a character that sometimes feels like a cipher because he discusses Chaos Theory any chance he gets. His agenda is against the hubris of scientists, while the movie puts a greater emphasis on the folly of capitalism. Malcolm knew what Hammond was doing was wrong all along but felt it was still in his capacity to oversee his folly. Knowing about Hammond’s plans and vowing to see them through is an integral part of Malcolm’s character and why he can remain collected during such an awe-inspiring moment in Jurassic Park.