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In the first Jumanji film, during one of Alan's turns and is presented with the following message from the game;

A hunter from darkest wild, make you feel just like a child.

To which Alan responds,

Van Pelt...

Van Pelt then appears and immediately open fire on Alan with his rifle and chasing after him yelling,

You miserable coward, come back and fight me like a man.

Later on Van Pelt is chasing Sarah and the children through the store and eventually gets the upper hand on them and they have this exchange,

Van Pelt: Stop your cringing woman, I could have shot you at any moment.

Sarah: Then why didn't you?

Van Pelt: You didn't roll the dice, Alan did.

So it is this last line about Alan rolling the dice that gets me... It is established that Alan and Van Pelt are adversaries while Alan was trapped in the jungle and that Van Pelt has fetish for hunting people. However, once in the real world Van Pelt has a fixation on Alan and mentions the dice roll.

So is this fixation caused by Alan's original roll in 1968 or is it because of the new roll in 1995? Would Van Pelt been fixated on another player had they made the roll that summoned Van Pelt?

I also understand it seems the game is designed to teach Alan a lesson about facing his fears and how to handle adversity, and that the same actor played both Sam Parrish (Alan's father) and Van Pelt; does this have anything to with the situation?

Is there anything I missing within the context of the film or are there any cast/crew interviews that explain the relationship in further detail?

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5 Answers 5

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It don't think it will be possible to get a completely satisfactory explanation of what is going on between Alan and Van Pelt, because the movie seems to contradict itself on this point. When the hunter's coming is announced, Alan appears to recognize him.

Alan Parrish [reading]: "A hunter from the darkest wild/
Makes you feel just like a child."
Sarah Whittle: What is it?
Alan Parrish: Van Pelt.

However, shortly thereafter, he claims not to have known about Van Pelt's presence in the jungle.

Sarah Whittle: You might've told us there was a man in there with a rifle that hunts people.
Alan Parrish: Well, I didn't know, okay? It's just the roll of the dice!

I noticed this when I first saw the film. Presumably, the inconsistency arose when changes were being made to the script. However, as a result of the contradiction being present, an authoritative answer from the film seems to be impossible.

Immediately after the preceding quote, Alan also avers that, apart from the rules of the game, he does not know why Van Pelt is hunting him.

Sarah Whittle: What is the deal with you and this guy?
Alan Parrish: He's a hunter. He kills things, that's what he does. And right now, he wants to hunt me and kill me, okay?
Sarah Whittle: Why you?
Alan Parrish: Why me? I don't know. Everything about me he finds offensive. You'd think it'd be a waste of his time. Maybe he needs something for his wall, you know, a Parrish—something to go between penguin and partridge.

However, casting the same actor as Alan's father and as Van Pelt has a clear symbolic effect; it gives the same face to the two more powerful, older men (one in each time period) that Alan comes into conflict with. In spite of this, there does not appear to be any in-universe explanation of whether or not the game somehow "modeled" Van Pelt on Samuel Parrish.

The casting of a single actor in both parts is also an out-of-universe allusion to the standard practice of having Mr. Darling and Captain Hook played by the same character in the stage play version of Peter Pan (a tradition that dates back to the original production—both roles were created by Gerald du Maurier, who was actually the uncle of the boys who inspired J. M. Barrie to create the character of Peter Pan).

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    I think Alan's comment about just being the roll of the dice means, "Hey there is a lot scary stuff in there and any of it could have came out. If I say here and told you everything I learned in my time in jungle we would be here for days"
    – Skooba
    Feb 23, 2019 at 11:48
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    "A hunter from the darkest wild / Makes you feel just like a child." I think the rhyme supports the "in-universe modeling" of Van Pelt on Alan's father. Dec 18, 2019 at 14:42
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    Alan's first roll was also what sucked him into the game, so it makes sense that Van Pelt would be hunting only him in the jungle too, the 2nd roll just pulled Van Pelt out where he continued to hunt ONLY Alan - that makes sense to me, the hunter was created in the jungle to only hunt Alan on the roll that sucked him in. The roll of the dice comment just mean I didn't know was was going to be pulled out next - it doesn't mean he has never met Van Pelt before
    – Matt
    Dec 18, 2019 at 16:46
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It's not stated explicitly in the movie, but I think it's safe to say that Van Pelt is referring to the dice roll that had just happened, otherwise Van Pelt would have said something like "You weren't trapped in the jungle, Alan was" - or made some reference to the jungle, even just as a way of preventing confusion amongst the audience.

As to why Van Pelt was hunting Alan during his time in the jungle: Alan seems to have learned a lot during his time in the jungle about the various hazards in the game (e.g. the stampede, the monsoon), which implies that when in the jungle, you have to face the various hazards without the dice roll having to call them. Sort of a "wild-card" punishment.

It may seem a bit unfair but presumably the game wasn't designed for players taking decades between turns, and the assumption was that a 5 or an 8 would be rolled soon enough.

As for Van Pelt being played by the same actor as Alan's father. This would be more artistic symbolism on the part of the film makers, given Alan's relationship with his father, rather than an aspect of the plot. Nobody in-universe acknowledged the resemblance.

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Actually, Van Pelt is the game's representation of Alan's father, only amplified. At the start of the film, Alan gets beat up outside the factory; when his father finds out, he doesn't try to comfort Alan, he instead tells Alan to stand up and take it like a man. This of course makes Alan angry at his father and a bit humiliated, as he is still just a child. Alan has the same relationship with Van Pelt, only wildly exaggerated - Van Pelt expects Alan to die like a man! Van Pelt is hunting Alan precisely because Alan is running. It is only at the very end of the game, when Alan finally stops running, that Van Pelt shows Alan any respect.

As to the line where Alan denies knowing about Van Pelt, the answer is simple: Alan is lying! He denies knowing about Van Pelt because he doesn't want to admit - even to himself - exactly why Van Pelt is hunting him: To make him act like the man his father wants him to be. This is very much in line with the fact that, emotionally, he hasn't really grown up yet (there are other places in the film that show this, e.g when Peter gets him to play the game again using reverse psychology).

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    Interesting take! Welcome to the site!
    – Skooba
    Apr 29, 2020 at 13:02
  • @Skooba this person creates a new account for each answer. PMar I suggest you link your accounts so you can reap the benefits of your answering.
    – Edlothiad
    Apr 29, 2020 at 13:06
  • This feels like a fan-theory. Can you offer any evidence to back up these bold statements?
    – Valorum
    Apr 29, 2020 at 13:54
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I played a lot of board games. They frequently have mechanics that:

  1. target all players,
  2. target the current player,
  3. target the player that is the best (for example, to stop them - as a rubberbanding mechanic), or
  4. target the last player (for example to give them a catchup mechanic).

The last did not appear in Jumanji. The first one, on the other hand, is abundant: the bats, the monkeys, the vines - almost all events are clearly affecting all the players in the game (and even some people outside of it). The one that targets the current player is also an option: the quicksand event clearly targets Alan (Sarah only gets caught because she had jumped into it). It could be argued that some of the events are also targeted at a specific person, but due to their wide range everyone is affected (like the monsoon one).

When I watched the movie it was clear to me that Van Pelt was an event targeting only one player. He only looks like his father because the event talks about "making him feel like a kid". Thorough the entire movie I saw no indication that it was a wrong interpretation.

As for why Alan remembers Van Pelt but then forgets him, it sounds like it's just a plot hole with no deeper meaning.

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Van Pelt is a metaphor for the childhood fear of Growing up and accepting responsibility. In the Game's crystal, "A HUNTER FROM THE DARKEST WILD. MAKES YOU FEEL JUST LIKE A CHILD." A predator you cannot outrun; your growth. Like Peter Pan or other grow up tales, the idea of having to put away your immaturity for responsibility is an extremely frightening concept for the unprepaired. In various instances Van Pelt demands honorable conduct and Challenges or "Fight like a man". Thus he serves as a foil to childish immaturity. Van Pelt also acts as the Predator personificaton and exposure to sadism in real life. They don't just hunt out of hunger, they do it because they know they can kill something. (playing with your prey) In a game perspective, Van Pelt is not merely an antagonist, but also a system administrator designed to ensure fair play. In a sense the game itself is "sentient" it is aware of the personal fears of every game player, and exploits them. Alan: Chronophobia, fear of time or fear of the inevitable- An antagonist with no defined personal hatred but constantly pursues him Judy- Autophobia, Loneliness Peter- Atychiphobia, Measuring up Sarah- fear of ostracism

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