Written by Michael David Martin
San Francisco – One of the top directors of all time, Steven Spielberg, best known for Jaws, ET, Raiders of the Lost Ark and Back to the Future, to name a few, had one of his most exciting shows at Davies Symphony Hall on January 6. His clever story of cloning dinosaurs, from the T-Rex to the Brontosaurus, was brought to life. The earliest form of computer animation he utilized wowed people of all ages in the early 90s. This was the very first-time computer animation had reached a level where audiences would be astounded, knowing this is something we’ve never seen before, and it was only the beginning. What a great way to use this technology and bring our childhood favorite friends, dinosaurs, back to life! The dinosaurs were created with groundbreaking computer-generated imagery by Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) and life-sized animatronic dinosaurs built by Stan Winston’s team. When the T-Rex first appears on screen, it’s like you’re on a roller coaster ride with the combined feeling of joy and terror.
Although this was filmed in 1993, Jurassic Park remains a timeless Sci-Fi classic with a significant cult following. I was thrilled to watch it again with a live audience and live orchestra. San Francisco delivered us another stormy night of rain and extreme wind. The perfect weather for the dinosaur jungle atmosphere we were about to experience together in the elegant Davies Symphony Hall. As the timeless Jurassic Park logo flashed on the big movie screen, our world-class SF Symphony warmed up its instruments as we rushed to our seats. As I gazed around at the packed audience, I could see San Francisco’s diversity in full effect with young and old fans of every colour. I always watch for the best dressed, and there were quite a few, especially with younger couples on romantic dates. On this night, we were treated to the musical lead of conductor Constantine Kitsopoulos who flawlessly commanded the score of music score legend John Williams. You may also know a few of his other timeless scores, Star Wars and Superman (1978). As a child of the 70’s going to movie theatres, the musical scores of Mr Williams created an even larger landscape that left a timeless imprint that continues to be some of the best music in cinema. While watching the movie, you forget there’s a large orchestra onstage playing the film score live! It all became harmoniously in sync and looked so effortless. One could tell the professionalism of the great musicians before us as they mastered every nuisance.
The orchestra elegantly and powerfully portrayed the action where a cast of actors are pitted against our friends from 65 million years ago. Actor Jeff Goldblum was at his best in his role with a subtle natural ability to fill Davies Hall with laughter. Goldblum’s sex appeal was apparent as he was the perfect cast as the comedic and flirty scientist. Laura Dern played paleo-botanist Dr Ellie Sattler, a partner in work and romance with New Zealand actor Sam Neil. I couldn’t help but notice the similarities between the weather we were having on this night in San Francisco to that of the Island where the movie took place, an atmospheric storm. That only added to the drama occurring onscreen and onstage, and as always, we were treated to an intermission to take it all in. The break is an excellent time to mingle with a glass of champagne and enjoy the elegant beauty of the hall’s magic. As often as I’ve visited, there’s always something new to discover while looking and wandering around. My advice if you ever attend the San Francisco Symphony is always to look up, you’ll be delighted with what you may see.
It was time to take our seats which weren’t too hard to find again, thanks to the excellent and friendly ushers who were always there to accommodate us with their kind hospitality. Our conductor commenced, and our action-packed adventure continued. Did I mention this was a child-friendly film? All children love dinosaurs and understand their ferocity and magnificence. Spielberg gives us the ultimate ride fueled with adrenaline when the Raptors make their entrance onscreen. They aren’t as large as the T-Rex but don’t let that fool you because they are intelligent and problem-solving hunters of prey. A fun thing to do while watching the film was to watch and single out each musician performing their instrument. There are so many unique sounds and players to explore and enjoy from strings and horns to the woodwinds galore. As the movie came to a close, it was time to get off the Island and make our way to exit Davies Hall. Of course, not without participating in the thunderous applause and standing ovation for another dynamite performance. Once we left and started our walk to our cars, I noticed that the storm had knocked down some trees. The rain was pounding hard on us, and thunder could be heard through the big San Francisco skies. It felt like we were in Jurassic World all over again, and it brought a smile of joy to my face. It was definitely an enjoyable pre-historic experience for all that attended.
San Francisco Symphony
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