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Woman inherits the earth: The female power of Jurassic Park

Contributed by
Jun 20, 2018

A quarter century later, the true tea on the original Jurassic Park film is that it’s about men making ill-advised decisions, resulting in the female dinosaurs and their human counterparts teaming up to right those wrongs.

“Dinosaurs eat man, and woman inherits the earth.” Ellie Sattler, played by Laura Dern, not only shook the table while talking to Jeff Goldblum's character Ian Malcolm, but she also gave the audience some serious foreshadowing. Director Steven Spielberg took some of the more heroic moments from the Michael Crichton novel that were offered to the male characters and gave them to his female leads. As a result, Jurassic Park is a film where the female characters reign supreme. 

John Hammond knew damn well he had no business bringing animals he knew nothing about back to life, but capitalism is a strong repellent for common sense. Capitalism also fuels Dennis Nedry’s plans, which ultimately result in speeding up the disaster that was already Jurassic Park. He causes catastrophic problems due to his corporate espionage mission that goes terribly wrong, setting up the stage for the women of the movie to save the day. 

Jurassic Park, Ellie Satler

Credit: Universal Pictures

Now, assuming that the dinosaurs in the park are all female, as B.D. Wong’s Henry Wu states, Nedry, as well as a few other men in Jurassic Park, are handily dealt with by even more female characters.

Nedry meets his demise at the poisonous projectile spit of a female dilophosaurus, effectively preventing the stolen dino embryos he had in his possession from getting off the island and into the hands of another group of men at Biosyn. A few moments later, the lawyer Gennaro makes the cowardly mistake of leaving Hammond's grandchildren behind in the Jeep once mama Tyrannosaurus rex makes her way through the powerless fences. He is rewarded for his cowardice by becoming digestive mates with the goat that the T-rex ate prior to escaping, something I like to call Jurassic karma. 

Nedry really caused a world of trouble by cutting off the power to the island. He is the sole reason why a roaming T-rex and a pack of vicious velociraptors wreaked havoc on the island. However, thanks to Ellie Sattler and her Olympic-level hurtling through the jungle to the shed, the power is brought back online. It's a scene that demonstrates the pure determination of a woman who taps into another level of bravery. Ellie getting the power back on is essential in setting up Lex’s (Ariana Richards) time to shine a little later in the film. Spielberg’s Jurassic Park really does a great job of giving Ellie the opportunity to go out into clear danger and do what Ray Arnold (Samuel L. Jackson) was unable to from the safety of the control room. 

And this is where Lex comes in. After saving herself and her younger brother by quickly locking a velociraptor in the freezer, she brings the security systems back online. Her brother teases her earlier in the movie about being a nerd because she enjoys spending time on the computer, but those "nerdy" skills are what save him and ultimately everyone else still alive in Jurassic Park. Lex gets the door to lock again, preventing the other velociraptor on the loose from coming into the control room as well as getting the phone lines back up so that they can call for help. Without her computer prowess, everyone would've been in for an even longer weekend and way more ramblings from Ian Malcolm about chaos theory. 

The Jurassic Park film does what Michael Crichton’s novel doesn’t: give its female characters, like Ellie and Lex, agency. The stakes are extremely high, and both of them step up to save not only themselves, but everyone else in the process. 25 years later, it’s still a triumph in shining a spotlight on strong female characters — even the ones with scales. While women didn’t inherit the earth after the dinosaurs ate some of the men, they did indeed save the uneaten men from themselves, which is probably why there have been so many sequels.