Julis Cinema Challenge: Jurassic World

The 2015 film Jurassic World revolves around two main plot arcs. The first deals with the accidental release of the genetically-modified Indominus Rex, and the second with the use and treatment of a pack of Velociraptors. While neither of these subjects would immediately radiate a tie-in to Judaism, both plot arcs do an impressive job of stressing the Jewish principle of Tza’ar ba’alei chayim. Tza’ar ba’alei chayim (literally: “suffering of living creatures) is a collection of principles that deals with the way that animals are to be treated. For instance, work animals are supposed to be able to rest during the Sabbath, livestock are to be slaughtered in the least painful way possible, and animals in general are not to be killed needlessly (such as in hunting for sport or bullfighting). Jurassic World espouses in the way that it treats the subjects of both the I. Rex and the Velociraptors. The protagonist Owen (Chris Pratt) is quick to identify that the I. Rex has been isolated in such a way as to cause it damage and immediately alerts the park staff to this fact. This lack of respect for the animal results in it being extremely destructive once it gets loose. Ultimately, it takes a willingness to free other animals—Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) releasing the similarly isolated Tyrannosaurus—to be able to effectively counter the threat of the Indominus. A similar situation occurs between Owen and the ex-military Vic (Vincent D’Onofrio) regarding the Velociraptors. Vic feels strongly that the raptors can be immediately forced into duty as military assets or against the Indominus, while Owen consistently argues that the animals must be treated with respect before they will follow commands. In the end, Owen’s treatment of the raptors helps to save him and others from injury, while Vic’s general lack of respect nearly results in the raptors’ temporary allegiance with the I. rex, and the death of his character towards the end of the film.

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Michael Ashery

Points Earned: 5