Twenty-five years. To think it has been a quarter of a century since Jurassic Park, Steven Spielberg’s spellbinding science-fiction adventure adaptation of Michael Crichton’s disaster-science novel, changed the landscape of blockbuster cinema in 1993 is astonishing. For so many of us, Jurassic Park was a defining part of our childhood’s, as indeed was one crucial element which never gets lost amidst the dinosaurs: the music. Something, to mark this anniversary, London’s Royal Albert Hall celebrated in style.
John Williams, arguably the finest Hollywood composer of at least the second half of the 20th century (possibly all of cinema history to date), has produced a legion of scores, often alongside Spielberg, which often transcend the pictures they’re attached to. Jurassic Park, as a piece, does not necessarily leap off the screen in the way the Star Wars fanfare might, or the signature character pieces for Indiana Jones or Superman do, but there is an elegant resonance and power to Williams’ Jurassic Park score which perfectly aligns with Spielberg’s family friendly, yet simultaneously dark and ominous, film about man, science and nature.
Many a Williams film score has graced the towering, legendary auditorium within London’s premiere music establishment, and Jurassic Park took its place in this 25th anniversary concert as one of the greats. Conducted by Ben Palmer, alongside the Czech National Symphony Orchestra, Williams’ sumptuous sunrise and sunset on the genetic restoration of the Earth’s first stewards, 65 million years ago, was brought to life with rousing style. As usual with the orchestras and conductors who grace the RHA, they never miss a beat in conveying Williams’ beautiful score.
What surprises, in listening, is just how much of Jurassic Park doesn’t *have* a score at all; there are numerous scenes which utilise the power of silence (such as the memorable first appearance of the T-Rex) before Williams thunderously brings his brass and drums into full use to throw Sam Neill’s Dr Alan Grant and all the players around him head on into peril. That is not to say the orchestra were not busy throughout – they were entirely note perfect, particularly for what to my mind is the signature piece on Williams’ score, ‘Journey to the Island’, in which the main overture kicks in to grand, spine-tingling effect as our main characters reach Isla Nublar.
Though a limited event, once again the Royal Albert Hall continue to prove that their sojourn into spearheading film music concerts at the venue is a wonderful choice to draw in thousands of cinema fans who may not have the opportunity to embrace classical music otherwise. Jurassic Park: In Concert, another triumph, is part of the broader Festival of Film season which will cover films as diverse as Metropolis, The English Patient (with a live Q&A with composer Gabriel Yared) and Harry Potter & the Prisoner of Azkaban, yet another John Williams triumph. Should you have the opportunity and means, do attend. These concerts are such a glorious, sweeping way of appreciating cinema and orchestral film music.
Jurassic Park: In Concert was certainly an extra-special one for me, given it was the first picture that truly took my breath away on the big screen, and it was a joy to see it in this way. You could say it was an experience 65 million years (ok maybe 25 years) in the making…
Jurassic Park: In Concert took place at the Royal Albert Hall on Friday 28th & Saturday 29th 2018.