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John Hammond as portrayed in the film and the book

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Many times in literature, a character may remind the reader of a character of another work of literature or someone famous. When this piece of literature is translated to a film, the character’s representation may change entirely. A wonderful example of this representation is Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park. In this work, the character John Hammond portrays a greedy, arrogant, and pompous old man with a dream to build a park full of cloned dinosaurs using DNA found in preserved mosquitoes. Hammond’s character changes severely from the novel to the film and has a major impact on the overall story. In the film, Hammond is portrayed as a jolly old man with only two wishes: to do something that has never been done and please children. John Hammond’s change from a insatiable old man to a jolly, grandfatherly entertainer is a major transformation and has a huge effect on the theme.

In the novel, Crichton portrays his character, Hammond, as a guy with a dream at first. With the development of the story also comes the development of Hammond’s character. The reader begins to see Hammond’s evil side. Hammond becomes a greedy man who wishes to play god through bio-technology and cloning. Hammond supports this argument when he stated, “Face the damn facts, Henry … This isn’t America. This isn’t even Costa Rica. This is my island. I own it. And nothing is going to stop me from opening Jurassic Park to all the children of the world … Or, at least, to the rich ones.”

Hammond desires to have control over the dinosaurs no matter what the cost ends up being. The selfishness of Hammond’s character also led to stubbornness. This stubbornness would not allow Hammond to foresee the consequences of his island, but rather only allows him to envision future profits that he would like to think will come to the island.

Hammond’s character in the novel can be related to Marry Shelley’s Dr. Frankenstein. In many aspects of the novel Hammond portrays a mad scientist on a ravenous quest for power. This quest is ultimately to play God. Dr. Frankenstein and John Hammond each have an obvious desire to create a life and have it belong to him. Both creations turned out to be too much for the creator to handle and in both cases the creator dies before the creation and nothing is certain what becomes of each of the creatures. Hammond’s own carelessness, selfishness, and greediness lead to his final destruction of being eaten by a group of Procompsognathus’.

In the movie, Steven Spielberg decides to portray John Hammond as a kind thoughtful old grandfather, who loves his grandchildren. This loving old man has just a dream in the film. This contrasts sharply with the novel in which Hammond’s dream becomes an intense obsession. The film portrays Jurassic Park as an innocent mistake made by a helpless old man, instead of an atrocity committed by a villain on a quest for godly power.

In contrast with the novel, the film portrays Hammond as a character who is much like P.T. Barnum. Like P.T. Barnum Hammond is an entertainer and wishes purely to entertain people, particularly children. This is also a definite contrast to the quest to play God that occurs in the novel. This P.T. Barnum type of character is then well liked by the audience and changes the whole outcome of the story. Because Hammond is portrayed as an old man who made a couple mistakes, it would not be justified in the film if Hammond were to die, and so he doesn’t.

The impact that this transition has on the theme is incredible. Jurassic Park was written in 1990, amid the fever of the information age when seemingly the whole world was suddenly interested in computerizing. This occurred just ten years before the predicted turn-of-the-millennium “Y2K” computer glitch that had computer technicians and information technology professionals across the globe bracing for disaster. One of the themes that is explored in the story is the question of what would happen if all of the world’s computers were to shut down. Another theme was that man can not irresponsibly play God and not suffer consequences. Furthermore, life will find a way. Because Hammond’s entire personality changes, he no longer seems like an evil scientist blinded by a mad quest. Because of this, the movie is transformed into an adventure story and loses most of the theme presented in the novel.

The final analysis of both of these works shows a great shift in a character from an obsessed villain to a jolly man who makes a mistake that he could not foresee due to childish ignorance and not selfish blindness. The audience watching the movie takes the childish ignorance as a mistake that anyone could have made and excuses it. Hammond is thus more widely liked in the movie, while he is hated by the end of the novel. This altering of Hammond’s character changes a theme that presents challenges against the modern computer and bio-tech age, into a theme that is as simple as an adventure story.

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