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CLOSE-UP: OUR PREHISTORIC FUTURE

Steven Spielberg, Jurassic Park, 1993, 35 mm, color, 127 minutes.

IT’S NOT EVERY DAY that the world’s most famous paleontologist sits in judgment on technologies of visual representation. But when Stephen Jay Gould saw Jurassic Park, his concerns about stereotypical characterizations and the scientific infeasibility of the plot were offset by something close to awe:

The dinosaur scenes are spectacular. Intellectuals too often either pay no attention to such technical wizardry or, even worse, actually disdain special effects with such dismissive epithets as “merely mechanical.” I find such small-minded parochialism outrageous. . . . The use of technology to render accurate and believable animals [is] one of the greatest all-time challenges to human ingenuity. The field has a long and honorable history of continually improving techniques—and who would dare deny this story a place in the annals of human intellectual achievement[?] (“Dinomania,”

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