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Jurassic Park
1993 MCA Records

2013 Geffen Records

Composed, Conducted, and Produced by:
John Williams

Orchestrated by:
John Neufeld
Alexander Courage
Conrad Pope

Labels and Dates:
MCA Records/Universal
(May 25th, 1993)

Geffen Records
(April 9th, 2013)

Also See:
The Lost World: Jurassic Park
Jurassic Park III
Schindler's List
Far and Away

Audio Clips:
1993 MCA Album:

2. Theme from Jurassic Park (0:30):
WMA (193K)  MP3 (242K)
Real Audio (151K)

7. Welcome to Jurassic Park (0:30):
WMA (197K)  MP3 (243K)
Real Audio (151K)

15. T-Rex Rescue & Finale (0:29):
WMA (193K)  MP3 (240K)
Real Audio (149K)

16. End Credits (0:30):
WMA (193K)  MP3 (238K)
Real Audio (147K)

The 1993 MCA album is a regular U.S. release. There was also a limited edition picture disc released with identical contents. The picture disc had a slightly different cover and the CD itself has the Jurassic Park logo in shades of blue as well as the island itself. Since that limited edition CD has no extra music, its value is not above $20.

The 2013 expanded Geffen album is a regular commercial product but not available as a CD release. It was offered first as a lossy MP3 download and then later as a high-resolution download through outlets offering that option.

  Nominated for a Grammy Award.

Jurassic Park
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Our Price: $8.99

Sales Rank: 964

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Buy it... if you want a superior John Williams crossover score that connects the high-flying fantasy of his early 1980's efforts with the more complex rhythms, instrumentation, and density of his 1990's scores.

Avoid it... on the lossy versions of the expanded 2013 album that, by their compressed nature, nullify the benefits of the remastering of this classic, large-scale adventure and horror work.

Jurassic Park: (John Williams) With Michael Crichton's fabulously outlandish adventure story, the spectacular digital and live action effects of Industrial Light and Magic, and an odd assortment of entertaining character-actors, Steven Spielberg led the charge of Jurassic Park to immense box office returns that would spawn continued journeys back to the resurrected land of the dinosaurs in sequels to come. Budding DNA technology of the era made postulation about the reconstruction of dinosaurs a viable topic for mainstream imaginations, and Crichton took that thought down its natural commercial route, speculating that if dinosaurs were to be reborn in captivity, they would probably be exploited for profit in a zoo or amusement park. Needless to say, no adventure entry like this could pass without the natural horror element at its side, and before long, a nasty storm causes the safety mechanisms of "Jurassic Park" to fail and the monsters are unleashed upon the humans of the island. Spielberg expertly balanced the wonder of the concept with outright horror and a touch of humor, even going so far as to depict a T-Rex snatching a convenient human munchie directly off a toilet. The mania that surrounded Jurassic Park in 1993 was extraordinary, lines wrapping around theatres for an extended time and the media enamored by all the hype. The qualified success of Jurassic Park, in all its domination of the summer of 1993, somehow managed to leave famed composer John Williams behind. Despite a score of Herculean scale for Jurassic Park, Williams would overshadow his effort for Isla Nublar by composing Schindler's List later in the same year, a score that not only swept every major award for 1993, but is considered by many film score veterans to be among the most effective single film scores of the digital age. So outstanding was the reception to these two monumental scores that Williams would conduct them in concerts throughout 1994 and take a break from scoring assignments while doing so.

Compared to the great action themes that Williams has etched into the minds of mainstream movie-goers through the years, Jurassic Park has become surprisingly anonymous, with its bold identity rarely heard in public performances since the franchise's original trilogy reached its sputtering conclusion at the cinemas many years later. This does not mean, however, that Jurassic Park is no less a score; it was, and will always be, one of John Williams' most impressive masterpieces, despite the tepid criticism of the score that you will likely see from even the most veteran film score reviewers. With Jurassic Park, Williams was given an opportunity to merge nearly every one of his dominant compositional styles of the early 1990's, a fantastic era for the composer, by all accounts, into one score. And in the process of rolling all of these styles in to Jurassic Park, he managed to create a score with a magically cohesive core that is extremely potent in the film itself. Among the styles that fans of Williams enjoy in Jurassic Park are, first and foremost, the bold themes, with the primary identity of the island split into two separate ones (more on that later). The multitude of themes that receive full performances in Jurassic Park will remind collectors of Far and Away, while the broad spectrum of emotions covered in those themes, especially in their sensitivity, will recall the sadness of Hook. Varied electronic rhythms, sometimes brutal in execution, thump their way from the suspense of JFK. Relentless orchestral rhythms, often led by intense chopping of the string section, hail the glory of action cues all the way back to Raiders of the Lost Ark. Charming piano and light percussion solos, and their integration into an ever-increasing orchestral depth, relate back to E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial and more recently raise the brightness of Home Alone. Williams only sparingly uses choral ensembles, though the employment of such a group in Jurassic Park is the icing on the cake, infusing the score with a delicious flavor that any fantasy film should be so lucky to have.

Perhaps the most amazing aspect of Williams' ability to combine all of these elements into one score is the wide range of genres the music was required to traverse in the film. From fantasy to adventure, the horror to the child-like, Jurassic Park covers miles of territory musically, making Williams' achievement all the more impressive in the film and interesting on album. Loyalty to the development of his themes is critical in Jurassic Park, for Williams' continuing collaboration with Spielberg would lead to projects with fabulous, but fractured themes (A.I.) or no dominant thematic presence whatsoever (Minority Report, War of the Worlds). There are few blocks of 30 seconds in Jurassic Park when Williams is not developing (or combining) his multitude of themes, providing the film with easy identification points and causing a fluid listening experience on album. In a somewhat irregular, but in this case understandable move, Williams graces Jurassic Park with two primary themes. Their purposes are obviously different: a bold and layered brass romp, aided by crashing cymbals and rolling timpani, introduce the audience to the island near the outset of the film and continues to define the adventure associated with the park. Conversely, Williams wrote what is technically "the theme" for the film in the form of a romantic string and choral piece that remains as noble a fantasy theme as any Williams has ever created. The composer boils this identity down to a solemn but lovely piano solo for the finale scene, suggesting sadness at the loss of life and a return to a more normal suburban existence, a surprisingly elegant choice for that scene. As the theme is extended over the end credits, listeners are treated to Williams pleasant interlude within the idea that rarely receives treatment during the actual film. It's interesting to note that Williams would return more heavily to the bolder brass theme in The Lost World, thus attaching its identity with the concept of the dinosaurs' return and placing the string and choir theme from Jurassic Park as the identity of the particular island in the first story.

Viewers of Jurassic Park are met with a bevy of strong secondary ideas in the score as well, introduced to the "panic theme" relatively early in the film. In the latter half of "Incident at Isla Nublar," after a nasty little accident with a raptor, Williams presents the rolling woodwind panic theme, often performed in the depths of the section. It rises through the clarinets and is eventually aided by strings in both that cue and at the outset of "High-Wire Stunts," where it builds to a phenomenal, full-ensemble crescendo of horror. As a churning resident of the lower ranges of the ensemble, this representation of growing panic is not only extremely effective in achieving an ominous emotional response, but also remains harmonious enough to enjoy apart from the visuals. Williams has, through the years, proven himself capable of creating remarkable dread using bass woodwinds, using these rolling techniques that extended through his Harry Potter scores. More obvious is the identity for the dreaded raptors that would fit any predator, taking the rhythmic movement of the ensemble even lower. Growing out of an animal-like bass growl used purely to signal impending trouble (as in "Coming Storm") is a highly mechanical four-note theme performed by harsh brass tones that remains a perfect identity for the equally mechanical killers, and it is malleable enough to be used as a foreshadowing device (as partially heard, for instance, in the opening titles). The static movement of the progressions is heard with nearly every form of emotional appeal in the work, extending into the realm of awe as necessary a few times. But by the flourishing and frenzied "Hungry Raptor," the idea envelopes the now-wild suspense motif from earlier in the score and is as determined in it malice as Williams' famed rhythmic motif from Jaws. The raptor motif lacks a natural opening note other than a bass statement on key, intriguingly staggered so that it starts unnervingly in the middle of each measure. While the raptor's theme is an extremely effective tool, it's a tougher pill to swallow on the album, and one of Williams' rare oversights in the score is the lack of this theme's foreshadowing in "Hatching Baby Raptor." Some listeners claim that there is a relationship between this rhythmic theme and Williams' iconic five-note idea from Close Encounters of the Third Kind, such similarity is likely coincidental.

Several subthemes prevail throughout the score for Jurassic Park, often contributing impressive individual tracks that stand out as tonally pleasing on the album. Usually enjoyed by collectors are the lush string layers in "My Friend, The Brachiosaurus," a cue that treats the non-threatening dinosaurs with the wondrous and imaginative innocence from a child's perspective. Significant parallels can be drawn between this cue and similar ones from Hook. Another cue slight on the volume is "Remembering Petticoat Lane," a music box piece for the lamentation of the park's creator as all goes to Hell. While this cue is a significant departure from the overarching style of Jurassic Park, reflecting the more ethereal emotions of Always, Williams uses the same general instrumentation to represent a calming influence on the story's two children in "A Tree for My Bed" (this time returning to the film's primary string theme for structure). For the film's bumbling conspirator, Dennis, we hear a return (with no surprise) to the electronic bass rhythms of JFK, including the rambling piano motifs and tinkling percussion largely identical to the previous score. This material is perhaps the score's only truly disappointing identity, if only because the composer so clearly yanked it from a previous context. It is effective once again in this context, however, so for non-Williams collectors, the referencing won't really matter. Several other partial structures exist throughout Jurassic Park, with a noteworthy amount of them featuring some sort of four-note construct; it's not known if this is an intentional choice by Williams, but it's definitely a trend in the score's themes to be considered. As expected, the "panic" and raptor themes do eventually draw closer to one another, with the churning bass of the raptor theme adopting the panic theme's structure by the final cues of the film. Even the brass that perform the raptor theme merge finally with the panic theme at 2:20 in "T-Rex Rescue," appropriately erasing their distinctions. The arrangements of the two primary themes remain rooted in mostly concert suite-based form, and therefore don't mingle in any great volume during the rest of the score. Their variations on album are even more generous than those in the film, with multiple mixes of both themes available separately, and two cues combining them for use in the film.

There are individual aspects of Jurassic Park's music that help give it the memorable personality it has maintained through the years, apart from the major themes discussed above. First, the opening titles are treated to an electronically-distorted thump of a Japanese drum, an unmistakable way to start the score and suggest the approaching stomping of a large animal's feet. Watch out for volume levels on your stereo system when playing this track (somewhat inconvenient in that it begins the CD); it has a tendency to cause distortion on lower-end systems. Also used in that cue is sakauhachi flute, a staple of James Horner's career that flutters and blasts with an eerie, wet (echoing) sound during Dennis' attempted escape. The use of electronics and low male choir in the short opening titles and "Incident at Isla Nublar" are rare in their combined employment by Williams in his career. This material briefly extends in mixed vocal form to "The Encased Mosquito," an initially unreleased cue representing the true fantasy of the science behind the concept. This ethereal, other-worldly tone transfers to only the female voices early in "Hatching Baby Raptor" with a sound more familiar to Williams' collectors as his standard technique of eerie wonderment. Other unique moments include the native drum rhythm of "Jurassic Park Gate," aided by harp (of all things), which sets a perfect mood for entry into the park. The cute "Stalling Around" cue for the cartoon demonstration of how the science was accomplished is a soft xylophone-based romp that predicts a few techniques in the Harry Potter scores and is mostly unrelated to the rest of Jurassic Park. The last 30 monumental seconds of "Finale" stand among Williams' most satisfying closing statements, letting rip with forceful bass string rhythms that recall the explosive final scene in The Fury. A handful of other brief moments of major, tonal relief punctuate the score, including one notable escape announcement about a minute into "High-Wire Stunts." In "Eye to Eye," a cue that contains several unused sections of music that Williams assembled into one place for the original album, there is a minute-long, snare-aided passage just after the 3:00 mark that infuses the slight militaristic tones of the Raiders of the Lost Ark scores. Finally, of course, Williams slips in a faint brass inclusion of the raptor's theme at the end of the titles (and concert suite) to leave the door open for the inevitable sequel.

As demanded by Williams himself, the original album presentation for Jurassic Park was significantly rearranged from chronological film order, though to his credit it does include a sampling of every major idea from the score despite missing some significant material. The formation of the two primary themes on album for Jurassic Park can be confusing to those not familiar with the film. Their two combined performances are both heard in the film; "Journey to the Island" is exactly that, and it features easily the most robust performances of both themes. The "Welcome to Jurassic Park" cue is actually the end titles, employing Williams' trademark use of piano to introduce the theme in the credits before providing the string-based fantasy theme with its only significant brass treatment. Unfortunately, the following performance of that fantasy theme by the strings is lacking the necessary choral presence in the end credits, a disappointing event more than likely meant to make the cue accessible for concert performances. The album cuts of "Theme from Jurassic Park" and "End Credits" are edits and mixes heard in other cues (from the journey and end titles cues, respectively). The 1993 product was missing about 14 minutes of music, some of which quite good. In 2013, for the 20th anniversary of the picture, Universal released a Williams-approved expanded album containing all but about 3 minutes of the score (three short cues remain unreleased). Instead of placing the cues in proper order, however, the four additional tracks are tacked onto the end. The first of these, "The History Lesson," is essentially the Hammond character's music from early in the picture, easy renditions of the island's theme for woodwinds, harp, and piano. As mentioned previously, "Stalling Around" is the cartoonish demonstration music. Slapped together are three cues in "The Coming Storm," the first 1:20 actually dedicated to that moment of dread. From after that until 2:45, the cue presents a T-Rex chase sequence from later in the film. Finally, the last mixed cue offers "The Encased Mosquito," the impressive choral sequence most notably absent from the prior album. With "Hungry Raptor," listeners can assemble the entirety of the action music for the last third of the picture, a notable entry that layers the raptor motif over electronic jungle rhythms. Although this 2013 album was unfortunately not released on CD, those who demand a lossless version were treated to that option by outlets offering high-resolution downloads.

Learn about

Much of the hype generated about the 2013 expanded album involved its supposed remastered sound quality and its availability as 24-bit/96kHz and 24-bit/192kHz downloads. Ignore the popular MP3/AAC download options, as they are pointless since they nullify the remastered clarity. In high-resolution form, while the 192kHz and 96kHz aspects don't have meaning to people's ears (we're not dogs, after all), the 24-bit presentation does open up the soundscape a bit more. In any case, a little more reverb can be added to give either the 16-bit (original CD) or 24-bit (high-resolution expanded download) options that extra fantasy touch. Overall, Jurassic Park remains a crossover score that connects the high-flying fantasy of Williams' early 1980's efforts with the more complex rhythms, instrumentation, and density of his 1990's scores. Despite whatever cynicism you may read from other film score critics regarding Jurassic Park, some of whom may have been soured by the less effective use of the same themes in the two sequels, this score is as enjoyable as Hook and Far and Away and is even more technically ingenious. Kudos need to go to the recording team for Jurassic Park; rarely is a score with so many instrumental layers mixed with such attention to detail. The mixture of wet and dry elements is well handled, especially in a multifaceted cue like "Dennis Steals the Embryo." The choral mix in Jurassic Park is also outstanding; on occasion, Williams utilizes it as a subtle background element in a way that you don't really notice its presence. Such is the case in "Journey to the Island," a cue in which you don't outwardly notice their contribution until they majestically alternate to a counterpoint line at 6:45 (the same applies to the second track mix on the album). In the years following Jurassic Park, Williams began moving away from the unashamed enthusiasm of his full-blown fantasy scores, with an absence of new material in 1994 leading to four underachieving or decidedly darker scores before returning with Spielberg to score The Lost World in 1997. Unlike many of Williams' impressive works for sequels, and despite many outstanding qualities of his music for The Lost World, he wouldn't quite capture the same abundance of energy heard in Jurassic Park. The third film in the franchise was scored by Don Davis, making use of Williams' themes but presenting only average material surrounding those ideas. Whether overshadowed by Schindler's List or not, Jurassic Park is one of Williams' very best action scores, and no collection of the maestro's works would be complete without it. ***** Price Hunt: CD or Download

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 Track Listings (1993 MCA Album): Total Time: 70:20

• 1. Opening Titles (0:33)
• 2. Theme from Jurassic Park (3:27)
• 3. Incident at Isla Nublar (5:20)
• 4. Journey to the Island (8:52)
• 5. The Raptor Attack (2:49)
• 6. Hatching Baby Raptor (3:20)
• 7. Welcome to Jurassic Park (7:54)
• 8. My Friend, the Brachiosaurus (4:16)
• 9. Dennis Stelas the Embryo (4:55)
• 10. A Tree for My Bed (2:12)
• 11. High-Wire Stunts (4:08)
• 12. Remembering Petticoat Lane (2:48)
• 13. Jurassic Park Gate (2:03)
• 14. Eye to Eye (6:32)
• 15. T-Rex Rescue & Finale (7:39)
• 16. End Credits (3:26)

 Track Listings (2013 Geffen Album): Total Time: 81:09

• 1. Opening Titles (0:33)
• 2. Theme From Jurassic Park (3:27)
• 3. Incident at Isla Nublar (5:20)
• 4. Journey to the Island (8:52)
• 5. The Raptor Attack (2:49)
• 6. Hatching Baby Raptor (3:20)
• 7. Welcome to Jurassic Park (7:54)
• 8. My Friend, the Brachiosaurus (4:16)
• 9. Dennis Steals the Embryo (4:55)
• 10. A Tree For My Bed (2:12)
• 11. High-Wire Stunts (4:08)
• 12. Remembering Petticoat Lane (2:48)
• 13. Jurassic Park Gate (2:03)
• 14. Eye to Eye (6:32)
• 15. T-Rex Rescue & Finale (7:39)
• 16. End Credits (3:26)

Bonus Tracks: (11:05)
• 17. The History Lesson (2:28)
• 18. Stalling Around (2:33)
• 19. The Coming Storm (4:00)
• 20. Hungry Raptor (2:06)

 Notes and Quotes:  

The digital booklet of the 2013 Geffen album is useless, containing no information about the film or score, not even the following note from Steven Spielberg that was featured in the insert of the 1993 MCA album:

"Sixty-five million years ago, dinosaurs roamed the earth. Now, through the miracle of DNA, cloning and John Williams' talent, we're back in the Jurassic Era, listening to a score which I can only call classic, vintage Williams.

John and I haven't made a movie like this together since "Jaws," and it was a lot of fun for us to revisit a genre that we got such a kick out of 18 years ago.

When listening to this score, you should pay particular attention to the music of the raptors - as well as the haunting and enobling sounds of the brachiosaurus - in my opinion some of the most original writing John has ever done for the movies.

"Jurassic Park" marks the end of our first dozen films together. It's the longest personal working relationship I've ever had with anyone in the motion picture industry, and I consider it a privilege to call John my friend."

        -- Steven Spielberg, director.

  All artwork and sound clips from Jurassic Park are Copyright © 1993, 2013, MCA Records/Universal, Geffen Records. The reviews and other textual content contained on the site may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without the prior written authority of Filmtracks Publications. Audio clips can be heard using RealPlayer but cannot be redistributed without the label's expressed written consent. Page created 9/24/96 and last updated 7/28/13. Review Version 5.1 (PHP). Copyright © 1996-2015, Christian Clemmensen (Filmtracks Publications). All rights reserved.