Until recently, I never saw Jaws. Now you might find that odd, or you could argue that since I was born and raised in Hawaii, this made perfect sense. We don’t fear the water over here; we respect it. I grew up listening to the surf report on the radio. Our islands have good warning systems in place to inform the population of strong surf or any other hazards. Lastly, I never heard of shark attacks.
So on the one hand, while it’s crazy that I never watched this epic film, it wasn’t as if I didn’t see many clips and pop cultural references throughout my life. (SNL’s land shark anyone?) It’s one of those movies where I knew, at least on the very surface level, what happened. But of course, it was about so much more that a shark terrorizing the small town of Amity. In fact, “in 2001, it was selected by the Library of Congress for preservation in the United States National Film Registry as “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.
- Interestingly, Steven Spielberg, a mere 26 years old, thought he would never be able to make another movie again because he was grossly over budget.
- It also didn’t help that he was told by a very well-known actress while at a party, ‘I just came back from LA and everybody says this picture is a complete stinker. It’s a total failure and nobody will ever hire you again because you’re profligate in your spending and you’re irresponsible. Everybody’s calling you irresponsible!’
- Producers wanted Spielberg to hire someone to train a great white.
- The mechanical sharks used malfunctioned frequently and caused many problems but this serendipitously allowed for the now iconic music score to “step in and fill the gaps” where the shark was supposed to have performed.
- This also forced Spielberg to get creative, build suspense with hints of shark, and use real footage, all of which resulted in box-office gold.
- Prior to Jaws, there was no such thing as summer blockbusters. Traditionally, Hollywood concentrated their movie releases during Christmastime, but Jaws (and later Star Wars) changed that.
- And once producers realized they had a hit with the test audiences, they threw copious amounts of advertising money into promoting the film, also unheard of at the time.
- Jaws went on to win three Academy Awards for best film editing, original dramatic score and best sound.
- Jaws became the new model for horror films after its release. Ridley Scott even pitched “Alien” as ” ‘Jaws’ in space.”
For a thriller, the acting is impressive, as is the fact that you could probably watch the film multiple times and get something else out of it. Funnily, there are debates as to what the movie really means, from Watergate to masculinity to capitalism to my favorite “three different approaches to solving an obstacle: science (represented by Hooper), spiritualism (represented by Quint), and the common man (represented by Brody).”
And you thought it just had to do with a shark.
I saved the best for last. We watched the film on the exact day of its release June 20 but we had no idea until afterwards. How crazy is that?
Have you seen Jaws? Do you prefer to swim in the ocean or the pool?