Out of all the changes between the Jurassic Park book and the film, this character might be the biggest one of the lot. Seriously, the two are almost unrecognizable as the same dude.
John Hammond is essentially the living, breathing inciting incident of the Jurassic Park story. He’s the dude that made the park in the first place. He’s the guy that brings every single character into the action. This old man is one of, if not the, most important character to the story.
Which is probably the biggest reason that the book and the movie are so vastly different. Because those two characters are not the same John Hammond.
The Common Ground
Now, don’t get me wrong. There is enough here for fans of either version to recognize the other as John Hammond. It’s in the later, finer details that things start to change more dramatically.
Hammond is introduced in both versions as a sort of childish old man with a love of dinosaurs. He is confident in the quality of Jurassic Park and determined to make it a success, no matter the cost. In fact, he’s quite adamant that he spared no expense, telling the characters that exact thing several times throughout the story.
In fact, he’s so confident that he can become somewhat hostile. Anyone who brings up fair and valid concerns or criticisms of the park are dismissed by Hammond, who claims that they just don’t see the wonder in it. His disdain for these people, whether they be lawyers or Ian Malcolm, is extremely adamant.
Essentially, Hammond lives in denial. He denies that there are any issues with the park. He denies that things have flown out of control. He firmly believes that he can control nature, despite nature clearly showing him evidence to the contrary. With every mistake, he doubles, triples, and quadruples down.
Now, this is where we get into the differences.
In the book, Hammond doesn’t change. If anything, he gets worse. He becomes so embittered, so angry, and so delusional, that he pushes everyone else away. Even after nearly being eaten by raptors, he still denies that anything is wrong with his park.
Still, he is rattled after the events of the crisis. He becomes jumpy and paranoid, believing that everyone is out to get him and that he should just tear it all down and try again. Upon even the sound of a dinosaur, he becomes terrified, even if he keeps telling himself that everything is under control.
Which leads to his untimely demise. An unfortunate accident involving the children having too much fun with the intercom leads to Hammond being stranded alone at the bottom of a hill with a broken ankle. This is the peak of his negative character arc, where he becomes completely bitter and hateful of everyone and everything around him.
Then he gets eaten by fucking dinosaurs. Yeah! In the book, Hammond straight up fucking dies! Not at all like the movie!
In this version, Hammond’s arc transforms from a negative one to a positive one.
At first, he seems very much like the Hammond we know from the book. However, after a talk with Ellie, he comes to his senses. He admits that everything is out of his control and that people are dying. He fully joins in with everyone’s efforts to escape the park, even full on admitting at the end that it was a bad idea through this exchange.
Grant: Mr. Hammond! After careful consideration, I have decided not to endorse your park!That quote is so much cooler in the movie than it is on the page; just further proof that good actors are essential.
Hammond: So have I.
This is the primary difference between each Hammond. In the book, he refuses to learn from his mistakes and pays the consequences for it. In the movie, he admits to his failures and works to make them right, which earns him a happy ending. These two versions of the character are literally polar opposites!
Now, I won’t say which one is better than the other. Honestly, neither one is superior in any way. Both versions work well for different reasons and help the stories their in a great deal. Neither one is better.
Doesn’t make for a thrilling conclusion, does it?