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SYFY WIRE Jurassic Park

A tale of a Barbasol can: How the Jurassic Park McGuffin grew beyond David Keopp’s intentions

By Vanessa Armstrong
Jurassic Park Dennis Nedry Wayne Knight

It’s one of the most iconic pieces of personal hygiene equipment ever to grace the big screen — it's as simple as it is insidious, as much a symbol of corporate greed as engineering ingenuity.

We’re talking, of course, about Dennis Nedry’s Barbasol can in Jurassic Park — that tiny shaving cream container that the evil corporate entity BioSyn transformed into a dinosaur embryo storage unit.

In a new interview with The Hollywood Reporter, David Koepp, a longtime Steven Spielberg collaborator and screenwriter of the classic 1993 dinosaur film, opines on the how the infamous Barbasol can took on a life of its own after (spoiler!) it’s buried under a pile of mud after a pack (a flock? a scrum?) of Dilophosauruses kill and presumably eat the double-crossing Nedry (Wayne Knight).

“I really thought that [the Barbasol can] was buried,” Koepp told The Hollywood Reporter. “My intention with the shot the way I wrote it — and I believe Steven’s intention with the shot the way he shot it — was to say, ‘Oh look, the gold dust has blown away in the wind.’ That’s the treasure that he sought. That was the thing. And like the money in the suitcase at the end of The Killing that blows away in the propeller wash or the gold dust in The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, we were trying to imply that it’s gone forever. And so, I thought that buried in that mud, it was to imply that it was gone forever.”

Many fans of the can, however, believed that the Barbasol container's story was far from over — instead of being gone forever, the shaving cream can turned embryo storage unit was a buried treasure eagerly waiting for someone to find it. (Whether they were successfully able to use it, however, is another issue.)

And so the can lived on. After the first movie, it showed up in two of the franchise’s video game adaptations: 2011's Jurassic Park: The Game and 2015's LEGO Jurassic World. The shaving cream takes on different storylines in each, but just as in the original film, the can ultimately becomes a MacGuffin — a physical representation of corporate greed that ultimately ends in disaster and destruction (although in the LEGO version, the Barbasol does offer you a Gold Brick if you play it right).

But even though this particular container of shaving cream can’t seem to escape an ignominious end, it still isn’t above making cameo appearances — those who have been on Universal Studios' Jurassic Park: The Ride, for example, may notice a lonely-looking Barbasol can lying innocently near the Dilophosaurus pen. And when Jurassic World came out, fans of the can could get their own dinosaur-themed shaving cream, which featured either a Pteranodon or Velociraptor, depending on your Barbasol preference.

We're stuck with the can now — it's become an integral part of the Jurassic Park world, whether Keopp likes it or not. “I didn’t want to do anything with the Barbasol can myself,” he admits, “but I understand people have interpreted it differently. So, I guess I’ve got to live with that now.”

(via The Hollywood Reporter)