Very big by his size, more than two meters high, Michael CRICHTON knew high success and he could even to direct himself some movies, that is rather rare - although without link with the filmaker Charles CRICHTON ( A FISH CALLED WANDA, a SPACE 1999 translation to movie theater... ). Although his success, Michael CRICHTON had a time without be able to write anymore and his private life was rather complicated, with five marriages.
Unlike a lot of older science-fiction writers recently dead, as Alfred Elton VAN VOGT, Arthur C. CLARKE and the genious Stanislas LEM, Michael CRICHTON was more a main stream writer than a typical science-fiction author : he created the serie ER, from his experience as graduate and treated with the same curiosity the most various subjects, like a real famous hold-up with his movie THE GREAT ATTACK OF THE GOLDEN TRAIN staring Sean CONNERY
Because of his strong interest in science, a lot of his works have a link with science-fiction. It's the case of his movie THE TERMINAL MAN ( 1972 ) about computerized neurological treatment, of ANDROMEDA STAIN ( 1969 ) dealing of contamination caused by an extraterrrestrial cristal-like virus and same for COMA ( 1977 ), all of them spoking of medical ethics. In this latest, a disturbing movie, a doctor discovers than the hospital sells organs from some patients, tin order to have rather money to be able to sustain research. The director played by the frightening Richard WIDMARK says than few lifes sacrified are not a too high price for progress and the medicine, a "great social strength".
french cover for ANDROMEDA STRAIN novel
If the LOOKER's direction is a bit lacklustre, this movie anticipated in 1981 the question of the rights of models seen in publicity, because a lot of them are now at least a bit computerized. An esthetic surgeon played by Albert FINNEY tries to understand the reason of the cause of several patients deaths, murdered by a television mogul, John RESTON ( James COBURN ), who replaced them by a virtual double; this can seem rather illogical, because he could just buy their image rights. The movie ended on a funny struggle indeed subliminal publicity studios.
RUNAWAY ( 1984 ) is an intense movie staring Tom SELLECK ( the famous MAGNUM's interpreter ) about domestic robots gone awful because they are programmed to kill by a terrorist. His novel PREY deals of frightening nanotechnological molecular robots able to duplicate themself - even if the theme was treated a first time by Greg BEAR with BLOOD MUSIC ( and after by NEW OUTER LIMITS's New breed episode ).
His novel SPHERE, adapted to screen by Barry LEVINSON ( YOUNG SHERLOCK HOLMES ), made allusion to extraterrestrials, because the unknown artefact is just a way to put off the fears of the adventurers, as SOLARIS'organic ocean; as opposite to the more plus subtil end of CRICHTON's novel , the climax of the movie seems to be rather naive, because, unlike the final miracle of TARKOVSKI's STALKER, with psychokinesis caused by supra human power too , after a deep mystical atmospher, it comes a little like a pun.
JURASSIC PARK ( 1990 ) - and the sequel LE MONDE PERDU ( 1995 ) - to pay hommage to Conan DOYLE - is of course his most famous novel, based on a simple and genious idea both, the ability to clone Dinosaurs from some blood samples of Mosquitoes kept in amber - but the special effects creator Jim DANFORTH said to have a rather similar idea for a comedy some years before. The novel details the marvellous enthousiasm for the fabulous project to give life to Dinosaurs, and contains some terrific scenes when things go to rampage, like Compsognathus attack ( opening sequence of LOST WORLD movie ), the Pteranodons ( seen in JURASSIC PARK 3, less frightening on screen because virtual ones only are showed ) and the very creepy and cruel game of a young Tyrannosaurus with a character before to devor him during a terrible moon light night - these one not seen on theaters ). In spite of some differences, like the courageous advocate became on screen a coward, the inversion of roles of the two children, or the first visit in Jurassic Park without any problems unlike in the film, the adaptation by SPIELBERG is rather faithful at the spirit of the novel, with Richard ATTENBOROUGH played with enthousiasm the man doing his dream child becoming real.
The writer, not without hesitation, brought back in his sequel THE LOST WORLD the mathematician expert Ian Malcolm, herault of chaos theory, dead at the end of JURASSIC PARK novel, unlike the movie by Steven SPIELBERG. Because of therenewed interest for dinosaurs by Michael CRICHTON, it was given to a new Dinosaur a name from the writer's, Crichtonosaurus.
The JURASSIC PARK synopsis is rather similar to the WESTWORLD's one, wrote and directed in 1973 by Michael CRICHTON, talking about androids of a park, including a terrific cow-boy played by Yul BRYNNER, suddenly run amock and kill really the visitors. The first part deals with irony of this false universe and its childlike tourists; the second one goes to terror with the frightening chase of people by the robots that can be stopped. The movie is built of a classic and very efficient manner, as a perfect mechanisme like the androids. Arnold SCHWARZENZEGGER said to take inspiration of the frightful Yul BRYNNER. The producers gave a sequel, FUTUREWORLD, the park being use to replace politicians by perfect copys to serve their dishonest interests.
Sometimes, CRICHTON took politically incorrect positions, like with HARASSMENT ( 1994 ), seen as anti-feminist because he shows than women are able too to abuse of professionnal power - he was considered one time as xenophobic too with RISING SUN dealing of the conquest of american economy by japonese interests ( Terry GILLIAM gave to us some oniric scenes on this theme in his movie BRAZIL ). In URGENCE STATE ( 2004 ), he imagines the story of some eco-terrorists - like the ones showed in the very good telefilm of Edward ZWICK SPECIAL BULLETIN staring David CLENNON (THE THING ); this novel deals of bad effects of ecology when it turnts into ideology - it's true that some ecological products a little too fast said as safe are in really very dangerous - but he has probably less power to convict us when he minimises global warming*, extinction of species and risks from DDT,whereas his own death is a new illustration of the rising cases of cancer - even his warning than we must examine facts before to elaborate some conclusion is stil available.
( *a very recent work shows than the mountain vegetation was 65 meters higher in 1993 than in 1971 because warming, and mountain glaciers disappeared everywhere, from White Mount to Everest and Kilimanjaro )
( NB : this text was put for the first time in french the 6 th november 2008 )