Why Steven Spielberg Resented Filming Jurassic Park

Directing a movie to completion is a real challenge. Directing two movies to completion and releasing them within the span of a single year could be called "Pulling a Spielberg." (Or maybe a Ridley Scott). Yes, Steven Spielberg has not only performed this trick multiple times over the course of his filmmaking career, the resulting movies have often been good or even great. Of course, he's never managed this maneuver as successfully as the time he did it in 1993, with "Jurassic Park" and "Schindler's List."

Both Oscar-winning classics in their own right, Spielberg's rip-roaring dinosaur adventure and harrowing dramatization of the Holocaust are worlds apart from one another, as far their subjects, tone, and style go. And while that makes it all the easier for those of us on the outside looking in to admire Spielberg's accomplishment, the filmmaker has confessed he initially felt anything but great about spinning those two plates at once.

The problem was that Spielberg was still knee-deep working on "Jurassic Park" when he felt "Schindler's List" scribe Steve Zaillian had gotten the script to where he wanted it. "[But] I didn't want to miss the winter," he explained at the Tribeca Film Festival's 25th anniversary screening of the latter movie. "I knew I had to be shooting ['Schindler's List'] in January [on location] in Poland, so it came together awfully quickly."

Spielberg Found a Way

"Schindler's List" ultimately began production in Poland in March 1993, a mere three months before "Jurassic Park" opened in theaters. Because of this, Spielberg had "about two to three" evenings per week where, upon completing filming on "Schindler's List" for the day, he would get on "a very crude satellite feed to Northern California to be able to approve T-Rex shots" for his dino flick.

This, in turn, led Spielberg to build up "a tremendous amount of resentment and anger" towards "Jurassic Park" for reasons that go well beyond the stress of having to work around the clock. More than anything, he said it was strain of having to switch gears from the emotionally draining and psychologically exhausting process of recreating the real-life horrors of the Holocaust to signing off on shots of "dinosaurs chasing jeeps" and other moments from "Jurassic Park" that, as suspenseful as they are to watch in the movie, are obviously removed from reality in a way "Schindler's List" isn't. "... All I could express was how angry that made me at the time," he noted.

Spielberg's anger naturally gave way to him being "grateful" when "Jurassic Park" bowed to widespread accolades and huge box office returns, despite it being "a burden" up until then. And of the many valuable lessons one could take away from this story, perhaps the most universally applicable is this: you never really know the true worth of something you're working on until after it's completely done.