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The production of a movie is often challenging for directors in the face of rising expectations from the audience. In fact, the directors are faced with the demand to produce movies of better quality than the previous film. This calls for the director to secure a better script leading to the total departure from the established sequence, strategies, and tactics that the audience observed in the previous films.
Prior to the release of The Lost World Jurassic Park (1997), Spielberg had not directed people-eating monsters that thrilled the audience with horror. The previous movie was the Oscar-winning Schindler’s List. During the last days of filming The Lost World, he declared that he wanted to be swinging between leisure movies and social-conscious films. True to his word, it became evident when he directed Catch Me If You Can (2002).
Movies made by the same director may be similar in some aspects, but different in other aspects. This essay seeks to compare and contrast two movies directed Steven Spielberg namely The Lost World Jurassic Park and Catch Me If You Can.
The movie industry is dynamic in many aspects that result in movies that are entirely different despite being produced by the same studio or director. This was the case regarding The Lost World Jurassic Park and Catch Me If You Can be directed by Steven Spielberg in 1997 and 2002 respectively. Since the release of The Lost World Jurassic Park (1997), catch me if you can be one of the most fascinating screen versions of the 80’s bestsellers.
It is about a global con artist and a swindler. The lead actor was the world’s youngest person to be placed in the Federal Investigation Bureau’s list. Jurassic Park is based on the Jurassic Park Site B Island. A team of researchers is designated to the role of studying dinosaurs. During the study, another group of alleged researchers appears in the park with an incredibly different motive. The movie takes twists and turns as the story unfolds.
On the other hand, Catch Me If You Can is based on several locations in the United States. In reality, the film was anchored on a real-life narrative. Leonardo DiCaprio plays the role of Frank Abagnale Jr. Abagnale was notorious for his tricks to achieve his personal desires.
Conversely, Jurassic Park is loosely founded on Michael Crichton’s “successor” as a thriller whia le Catch Me If You Can is based on a real story. The script regards a story about clandestine dinosaur-invaded site. From a technical perspective, the movie is excellently done. In fact, it depicts dinosaurs looking astonishingly authentic.
They can be seen plunging amidst the complete rotation actions. The movie is well made such that a motorcyclist cruises between the running monster’s legs (Romney, 1997a ). The monsters in the movie surpass the observable special effects. That is, they walk the park to illustrate that they have been there for a long time. However, similar practicality is not evident to human characters. The characters in the movie are constrained by the design conventions and action blueprint.
Catch Me If You Can is based on spirituality thus making it have an outstanding difference with the Jurassic Park. It is based on a Jewish tradition that in the next world people shall learn with their adversaries. The adversaries will become partners in studying. This is for the sole motive that the enemies will possess most lessons to teach us.
The movie emotionally and persuasively explores the theme of the spiritual worth of an adversary. In the United States, people pride themselves in captivating each other at face value. In such a community with customs that pride in people falling over themselves to empower the alluring reflections with essence, any fast-witted cheat can have a good time in false pretense (Macnab, 2003).
In this regard, the movies are different as Jurassic Park is based on imagination regarding how humans would co-exist with monsters in the face of glaring human greed. Catch me if you can, on the contrary, is based on a real story. The imagination in the movie is hard to decipher, as the movie is not fictitious. The audience easily associates events with real-life events.
The movies are different in terms of the actions and intelligence of the characters. In Jurassic Park, the script binds characters to perform foolish actions to be pursued by the monsters that sometimes chew them. The plot illustrates to the audience why dinosaurs may still be amongst humans. It also brings out the theme of human pride and insatiability as well as the consequent punishment. Besides, it demonstrates why it is risky for humans to meddle with Mother Nature.
The movie does not ignore habitual plot aspects to allow the characters to explore into the anonymous why the audience observes their astonishment or even panic (Doogan, 2000). Within the first few minutes of the film, this aspect is observable when the audience is treated to a scene where the monsters are grazing in grace past the tall vegetation. Unfortunately, the unknown is cut short by the plot. The script directs the monsters to pursue, scare and chew men.
However, novice characters are not given the opportunity to express their astonishment when they first see the monsters. A large part of the movie is captured in the downpour at night. This strategy allows the film to capture special effects. For instance, there are significantly fewer monsters in clear light. The night view permits the director to utilize his great flashlights trademark. Catch me if you can, the good and the bad characters demonstrate unequaled intelligence.
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The director creates an extremely entertaining image of an “ethical impostor” in Catch me if you can while the characters in Jurassic Park are portrayed as plainly unethical. During the ‘To Tell the Truth’ television show, DiCaprio stands at the center of the contestants. The fraudster carries the least flicker of naughtiness in his eyes. He has a baby face that further conceals his real character. The lead actor brilliantly engages the audience from the beginning.
In the movie, DiCaprio portrays ‘his’ fraud ways as a genius fraud. He makes the narration of the deceit sensational, and, he appears self-assured. The director of portrays DiCaprio throughout the movie as an unusual runny and intuitive actor. This is aimed at bringing out the perceived character of Abagnale as one who had the capacity to get himself out of any circumstances. DiCaprio brings out the character of Abagnale as one who was talented in executing his scheme with instinctive slippery to slide and evade his pursuers.
A primary thread of the movie is the father-son affection in each story. Abagnale readily and aggressively takes up his shady deceptive father’s example in dishonesty, corruption, and flattery. There is evident chemistry between Abagnale and Walken (acting as the father) that presents the audience with a strong and compassionate screen show.
Unlike Jurassic Park, there is minimal use of flashlights, and the audience is given sufficient time to be able to establish a connection with the new characters. The characters are given sufficient time to accustom themselves with the surroundings such as the scene at the airport.
Catch me if you can progresses in spins, bounds and downs that reflect the wandering antihero changing identities and alteration of fate unlike the Jurassic Park that is significantly an action movie. When the movie starts, the brightness shown around DiCaprio is meant to tell the audience that he is the good guy in the movie. The observable vertical lines stretch from the lower side to the upper side of the screen.
These depicts that DiCaprio’s escape is restrained. This is evident given the challenges he had to contend with in order to escape and succeed. The emergence of Tom Hanks’ name in the title display makes the bright colors turn dark. This depicts that his character is the bad one. He would contribute significantly in obscuring DiCaprio’s life. On the other hand, Jurassic Park opens with a serene scene with dinosaurs gracing in peace (Travers, 1997). This demonstrates that the animals are in their natural surrounding and existing in harmony.
The movies are similar concerning the use of flashlights to illustrate anxiety, fear and insecurity. The role of a trickster in the society is accompanied by deep fear and insecurity. DiCaprio’s face is full of these elements. However, in order to augment the intensity of these elements, Spielberg utilizes the flashing lights. These illustrate the scene as one that is full of uncertainty.
DiCaprio on his part conveys Abagnale’s intense sessions of anxiety and fright. This aspect is essential as it demonstrates to the audience that the movie is not only hilarious but also has intense moments just like in real life where the cornered fraudsters experience panic. They are not always successful in their schemes.
The elaborate sequence is also effectively used to demonstrate that despite the brilliance observable in Abagnale, there is a close link between DiCaprio and the juvenile’s extreme anxiety behind his audacity. Abagnale was not executing his schemes for his selfish interest but was attempting to regain the livelihood standards his father had established but could not maintain as he was being pursued by authorities.
The elaborate sequence illustrates that although the teenager was brilliant, he was bound to face the unprecedented terrifying moments during his escapades. His inexperience would present him with a series of obstacles in pursuing his objectives. Similarly, the imposter researchers seek to reap financial gains by exploiting the monsters in their natural settings. However, the huge physical potential inherent in the monsters stands between them and the realization of the objective creating anxiety.
Each of the movies’ title relates well with the content of the movie. The title of the movie is well represented by DiCaprio in Catch me if you can when he is seen to hurry through the airport. The title at this point attains pertinent meaning. This brings significant sense to the entire movie title.
The movie then jumps over to France in 1969. It brings to attention the existence of Hanks who was the passage-corded FBI operative who trailed Abagnale with intense persistence. He confronts him with a series of scandalous accusations in a depressing Marseille penitentiary. It then skips six years back to the New Rochelle. This is where the 15-year old called Abagnale together with his mother were attending a ceremony to honor Frank.
The scene then bounces to Miami with stopovers in Los Angeles through Atlanta and New Orleans. This makes the movie to sway from one location to another further emphasizing the meaning of the title. In all these locations, Abagnale takes different careers by impersonating different professionals (Hofler, 2013).
Similarly, the title of Jurassic Park auger well with what happens in the movie. The movie is shot at Jurassic Park albeit with few scenes outside the park to give flow to the entire script by making connections with the outside world.
Most of the elaborate situations in Jurassic Park remain as elaborate as they appear to the audience while most of the scenes in catch me if you can are prelude to unprecedented events. The obvious scenes do not create suspense to the audience or the characters. For example, the prolonged scene of the suspended researcher over the rock face and other characters are hanging over a horrifying rock face involves a leading actor trying to save the character when a monster attacks.
Evidently, this is simply an action sequence (Romney, 1997). It does not give lead to anything other than occupy screen time. The sequence was not necessary. This diffuses the writer, producer and the director’s ability to create something more captivating and help in the development of the storyline.
Both movies bring out an element of human greed. Abagnale is motivated by gluttony to regain the livelihood standards scavenged by his counterfeiting father who naturally evaded tax. Consequently, the IRS is pursuing the father. The family is paying dearly for the actions of the father named Frank.
Abagnale has to contend with the bitter truth disclosed to him by an attorney that his parents would divorce. Similarly, in the Jurassic Park, the disgruntled humans are being punished by nature particularly through monsters for their greed. Nature punishes both the innocent and the guilty. In the context of Spielberg as a director, the approach brings out his view that messing with nature has dire consequences. Both movies develop and reinforce this view.
The two movies bring out the element of blood closeness. Frank and his wife are divorced and Abagnale imagines that if he accumulated enough cash, he would be able to reunite them. This is an indication that there is a cordial relationship between him and the parents. Initially, he flees from home when he is informed about the imminent divorce and given the option to choose between the two parents.
This creates a dilemma for him, as he feels equally and closely related to both parents. This parental-sibling closeness is demonstrated in the Jurassic Park through the human and dinosaurs associations. Malcolm’s experiences in the park led him to forging stronger relationship with his daughter and motherly figure dubbed as Harding.
The unfortunate circumstances the characters find themselves in led them towards growing closer to each other. Similarly, the disappearance of baby T-Rex makes the monsters to turn into protectors. They aggressively search for the baby and destroy anything that appears to stand on their way while seeking the baby.
In the movies compared in this study, both films reflect the past and probable future. Spielberg is famous for directing movies regarding the contemporary society. Others depict what the future is likely to look like. The Jurassic Park roles back in time to present the audience with ancient monsters that have been declared extinct for centuries. Spielberg may not have intended to create monsters for the sake of generations to know how they looked like.
He wanted to create a serene atmosphere where Mother Nature was in control to illustrate where the disaster human greed can lead us to after sometime. The fundamental message in the movie is to caution humanity about the disaster that may hit us if we continue to exploit the environment for selfish gains.
Spielberg in the movie Jurassic Park fails to capture the attention of the audience by hastily allowing the action sequences to overshadow the elaborate sequences. The novel characters are not allowed time to relate with the setting as they are chased and mauled by the dinosaurs. The audience is not presented with the opportunity to familiarize themselves with the characters. This is a total contrast to Catch Me If You Can.
In the latter movie, the audience is given hints on where the story line is coming from through the ‘To Tell the Truth’ television show. The telecaster states that Abagnale had effectively posed as a pilot, a physician and an attorney. He also got millions forging payment documents.
The audience is hence aware of the type of character DiCaprio is in the movie. Spielberg effectively utilizes elaborate sequence in Catch Me If You Can by directing DiCaprio to dissolve into the body and mentality of a crafty intelligent 19-year old who effectively operates clandestinely as a master counterfeiter.
The Jurassic Park largely brings out the intelligence of the characters as low. The characters are made to do things that clearly will result in obvious dire consequences. The actors provoke the monsters that are naturally bound to respond with intense anger. This is the reverse in Catch Me If You Can.
In one of the humorous and intelligent scenes, Abagnale is betrothed to an affectionate idealist nurse called Amy Adams. He met her in his short-lived profession impersonating a physician. He cunningly charms Adams’ sycophantic father named Martin Sheen. In fact, Sheen even helps Abagnale to secure a new personality as a deputy prosecutor.
The amusement-show extracts that follow the beginning of catching me if you can are calm animated title series while opening scenes in Jurassic Park depict serene and undisturbed natural environment inhabited by dinosaurs. The extracts in Catch me if you can set humorous tone insinuating high regard for Abagnale nearly to the position of doing away with ethical judgment. This is in complete contrast to Jurassic Park.
Both the legitimate and illegitimate research teams are depicted as immoral. They are presented in a way that suggests that the characters are out to exploit nature for their own benefits or those of their institutions. The movie harshly judges the characters for invading Mother Nature and seems to applaud the punishment they receive.
The movie directors work under pressure to deliver to the audience a film that they can associate with around social, economic, environmental and entertainment demands. This perspective calls for the directors to be capricious in delivery. The audience often expects a director to have a trademark in their production career.
However, the market demands that the director be conversant with new demands leading to the departure from what they have been doing and create a new niche as well as new approaches. This aspect is a core determinant of the similarity and differences that may be observed between movies directed by the same studio or movie directors.
Doogan, T. (2000, May 10). The lost world: Jurassic park. Video Store Magazine, 22(39), p.25.
Hofler, R. (2013, August 21). Catch me if you can. Daily Variety, 318(46), p.5.
Macnab, G. (2003). Catch me if you can. Sight and Sound Journal, 13(2), 38-39.
Romney, J. (1997). The lost world: Jurassic park. Sight and Sound Journal, 7(7), 42- 44.
Travers, P. (1997). The lost world: Jurassic park. Rolling Stone Journal, 26(763), 57-60.