Recently, I watched the newly released movie “Jurassic Park: The Fallen Kingdom” in the theatre. Technically and story-wise, it was a good movie. The usual plot of any Jurassic Park/World movie is almost the same, someone gets greedy and wants to use genetic technology and dinosaurs for their selfish purpose. For example, in the first film, John Hammond wanted to create something amazing with his money and influence so he built the theme park to astonish the world with living dinosaurs. The next part had his son bringing out the T-rex to sell it to a park. The third part deals with adrenaline junkie kids who visit the island for an adventure. Then there is the “Jurassic World” series, where the park is rebuilt and we see two parties- 1) The park’s founding body who think that dinosaurs are just toys to showcase in their amusement park and 2) The military who want to create dinosaur species to hunt a given target. In the end, everyone learns a lesson in their own way.
The latest sequel talks about one more problem – the volcano on Isla Nublar is getting more and more active. It has the potential to burn down the island completely and wipe out all the dinosaur species from earth (once again).
This creates a conflict – whether to let mother nature take her course (and let the dinosaurs die) or meddle in her business (and save the animals by displacing them to a new island). Immediately, there are two groups on either side: those who want to save the dinosaurs and those who don’t want to take any additional actions. There is a third hidden group of opportunists, who deceive the first group to track the dinosaurs on the island and capture them for experimentation and military purposes.
There is one incident in the movie where, from the island, military men rescue as many dinosaur species as possible and take them on their military ship. The time is critical and the volcano is at the peak of destruction. Everyone is on board and suddenly they all hear an excruciating sound, the sad cries of a giant Diplodocus who was left behind, standing alone on the deck. As if she was calling for them to come back for her, or saying her goodbyes, no one would know. No one could do anything. They didn’t return for her, maybe because she was just a harmless herbivore, who took too much space and couldn’t be a killer. In seconds, the lava erupts and the poor dinosaur, who was once the crown jewel of the park and an epic magnanimous creature of the planet, was engulfed in flames. This triggers something in the viewers, that they can describe with no locution.
The Senate witnesses a debate between first two groups – whether or not to save Isla Nublar’s dinosaurs from the volcanic eruption. Tough questions are posed – Who has more right to live than others? Who is the better one? Who has the right to decide that someone is better than others? Who gets the authority to decide everyone’s net worth? Is there any measure, any unit to describe it? How many units are good and how many are bad? What is good and what is bad?
This reminded me of another movie, “The Oxford Murders”. Here, the protagonist was Martin, a university student. He unravels the mystery of his landlady’s murder while being fooled by his idol – Arthur Seldom – who is actually, trying to cover for the murderer because of some guilt from his past. Seldom makes Martin believe that the serial killer is challenging them by giving them mathematical problems. But his puzzles are being used as a cover by a desperate father of a seven-year-old girl in need of a lung transplant and he murders the next few (who are already on the verge of dying).
He plans to blow up the school-bus of differently-abled kids and use one of their lungs for his daughter’s transplant. He dies in the ordeal, but the curious thing is, why did he think it’s appropriate to take the lives of those kids? Because their consciousness was not as developed as ours? Does it make them any less insignificant?
The French graphic novel “Le Transperceneige” (on which the movie “Snowpiercer” is based), shows the struggle for survival of human beings after a failed global-warming experiment induces an ice age. It effectively highlights the class difference among humans and how some lives are considered more precious than others. It reflects the narcissistic nature of human beings – how little we care about each other and other living creatures.
There are many movies and fictional shows that show a similar line of existential crisis. It’s funny how the production houses for such movies (which are mostly Hollywood-based, like Marvel or Warner Bros, etc.) keep their own countries at the centre of the decision-making in these films and still make money on an international level. Even the kid’s cartoon, “Doraemon” shows the world from a Japanese perspective because that’s where it is made. Whereas, the Potterverse mentions and acknowledges the magical population only from Europe. This is, of course, obvious. Everyone favours their own troupe. We naturally feel safe in a familiar environment with people we know. This natural instinct – a characteristic feature representing our animalistic lineage – is interpreted by the human population as a license to berate the unfamiliar.
In his book “Sapiens – A Brief History Of Mankind”, Yuval Noah Harari has beautifully given an account of the socio-psycho-biological evolution of mankind. There were more than six species under the category of ‘Humans’ (under the genus Homo) one of which is us, the Homo sapiens. What made the others decline to make us the only human species? Or the question should be, what is so special about sapiens that they are the only lasting members of the said genus?
The answer is cognitive evolution, which involves more than just communication skills. Many animals and humans (other than sapiens) could say “Careful! A lion!”– to make others aware and run for their lives. But a modern human-sapiens-can tell their friends that this morning near the bend in the river, they saw a lion tracking a herd of bison. They can then describe the exact location, including different paths leading to the area. With this data, they all can discuss whether they should approach the river, chase away the lion and hunt the bison.
This cognitive revolution also allows Homo sapiens to acquire the ability to say, “The lion is the guardian spirit of our tribe.” Only us sapiens can construct and believe in a world based entirely on fiction. This enables us to cooperate on a massive level. Using one faith system, we just have to believe in the guardian spirit of the lion – without forming an intimate bond with each other, which is crucial for other animals to trust each other. This is our secret behind the dominance over other species. But this comes with a great responsibility because we live in a world that has a huge number of elements connected by webs intermingled with each other in a complicated fashion. It needs to be intact because we can’t afford any single thread in the web to be broken.
I’d say in accordance with the cognitive revolution theory, our current behaviour showing favouritism towards those who are useful to us and thrashing others – is very ‘un-sapiens-like’. We are supposed to be cooperating with everyone so that the web of life is not disturbed. Looking at the history of evolution, that’s the ultimate purpose of our existence. If everyone understands this, even in a fictional world, it’d be easier for us to decide what to do with the dinosaurs on Isla Nublar.