Approximately 40 percent of all movies are based on books, but now there are an increasing number of books based on movies. The Making of Jurassic Park by Don Shay & Jody Duncan (Ballantine Books, $18) chronicles the story of the big blockbuster that opened Friday in dozens of area theatres from its birth as a bestseller by Michael Crichton to its transformation into a mega movie hit. Shay and Duncan, who have written books on the making of Ghostbusters and Terminator 2, even provide in this oversized paperback a portfolio of the storyboard sketches used for Jurassic Park, an interesting glimpse into how movies are made.
Like most of these books about movies, The Making of Jurassic Park is filled with glossy photographs, this time of the various animatronic dinosaurs that were fabricated for the film extravaganza (one of the captions claims even the dinosaurs' eyeballs were "drawn from nature," whatever that means). We also learn that the movie was shot on the Hawaiian island of Kauai (Costa Rica, the place where Crichton set the novel Jurassic Park, was briefly considered but "rejected when the production schedule coincided with the region's rainy season.")
Crichton's book, which includes a mix of action and technology and is very visual, was not difficult to adapt to the screen, according to Steven Spielberg, the movie's director. There were some changes, however, that had to be made. "Believe it or not," said Spielberg,
Jurassic joking: A whimsical drawing from The Making of Jurassic Park. "the first thing I thought was that the book had too many dinosaurs in it. I didn't think it was physically possible to make a movie that chock-full of dinosaurs. But Michael had done a wonderful job on the book, both from the scientific perspective and from the adventure side. His best accomplishment, I think, was creating a basis of credibility that dinosaurs could return to the living today and walk amongst us. He had set up the logic and feasibility of such an occurrence. What I wanted to do was boil the book down and choose my seven or eight favorite scenes and base the script around those. So we crunched the book."
Cooking up a little magic
Ever since the release of the film Like Water for Chocolate, Laura Esquivel's novel of the same name has been selling like, well, hotcakes. Not that it didn't enjoy success on its own. First a bestseller in Mexico, Like Water for Chocolate did well when it was published last year by Doubleday (it even was nominated for an American Bookseller Book of the Year Award as one of the books booksellers most enjoyed selling). Now, however, the novel of magic realism with recipes and romance, is really, well, cooking. This week it is number 5 on the New York Times bestseller list.
In one memorable scene of the novel, which is also included in the movie (now playing locally at Movies At Pinellas Park), the lovestruck Tita fixes Quail In Rose Petal Sauce, a dish with some pretty explosive side effects. Officials at Miramax, which is distributing the film, have been inundated with calls from people who want to know how to cook the erotic meal. Here is the complete recipe they are providing:
INGREDIENTS: 12 roses, preferably red, 12 chestnuts, 2 tsp. butter, 2 tsp. cornstarch, 2 drops attar of roses, 2 tbs. anise, 2 tbs. honey, 2 cloves garlic, 6 quail, 1 pitaya.
Remove the petals from the roses, then grind with the anise in a mortar. Separately, brown the chestnuts in a pan, remove the peels, and cook them in water. Then, puree them.
Mince the garlic and brown slightly in butter; when it is transparent, add it to the chestnut puree, along with the honey, the ground pitaya, and the rose petals, and salt to taste. (To thicken the sauce slightly, you may add two teaspoons of cornstarch.)
Last, strain through a fine sieve and add no more than two drops of attar of roses, since otherwise it might have too strong a flavor and smell. As soon as the seasoning has been added, remove the sauce from the heat.
The quail should be immersed in this sauce for ten minutes to infuse them with the flavor, and then removed. Bake the quail in a 325 degree oven for approximately 50-60 minutes.
More "story' than "true'
The movie version of Tobias Wolff's autobiography, This Boy's Life, due out this summer in video, is subtitled A True Story. The emphasis, however, is more on story than true
At times the film's alteration of the truth radically changes the audience's perception of the events in Wolff's memoir. In the film Wolff tussles with a boy named Arthur Gayle after he calls the boy a "homo." In a later scene Gayle leans over and kisses Wolff while they are playing the piano together.
In the book (Harper & Row paperback, $10) Gayle's homosexuality is hinted at but never confirmed. He is called a "sissy," not a homo, and the scene at the piano of him and Wolff remains ambiguous. "One night he kissed me, or I kissed him, or we kissed each other," Wolff writes. "It surprised us both. After that, whenever we felt particularly close we turned on each other."
In real life truth is often more gray and ragged, less climatic than the demands of a film script allow. At the film's climax Tobias and his mother flee from their oppressive stepfather and husband Dwight in a single moment. In the memoir the separation is more drawn out. Sometimes the film's disregard for the truth (or at least the truth as Wolff has described it) is merely trivial. In the book Wolff grows up in Chinook and goes to high school 39 miles away in a town called Concrete. The filmmakers flipped these facts around, thinking it more evocative to be stuck in Concrete.
_ Margo Hammond