JAWS — Going back to Amity: A Classic Film Recommendation. Where were you when you first watched Jaws? Do you have a story to tell? Please let me know what your thoughts are in the comments section.
“You’re gonna need a bigger boat.” — improvised line by Roy Scheider from Jaws.
State biologists confirmed today that what was believed to be a seal bite was indeed the work of a Great White! A man was bathing in the waters off of Truro MA yesterday when he was attacked. The shark took both of the man’s legs into its mouth and bit down mid calf. The man attempted to kick his legs free of the sharks grasp, causing severe tearing to tendons in his legs. The man was able to escape to the safety of the beach where he was aided by fellow beach goers. The man attacked was taken to Cape Cod Hospital. His injuries were deemed too great for treatment on the Cape. He was later transferred to Mass general where he underwent surgery early this morning. The swimmer is expected to survive. The size of the Great White is still unknown and very little shark activity has been reported in the area of the attack. The Cape Cod Shark Hunters will continue their patrols and tagging activity.
Also, this just in, as of September 22nd, the Great White shark migration back to what is called the Red Triangle is occurring and a 20-foot big-boy was spotted. Here is that story. An incredible tale all on its own. Please read by clicking HERE.
I first visited the world of Jaws through the bestselling novel by Peter Benchley. He was born into a literary family of giants, grandson of Robert Benchley, Algonquin Round Table founder. A newspaperman, his articles gaining the interest of an editor from Doubleday, Peter Benchley was given a thousand dollars to write what would become Jaws, published in 1974. He also cowrote the screenplay and appeared as a news reporter on the beach in the Steven Spielberg film.
I was nine when I read Jaws, and could not wait to see the film. Most of the main characters stayed true, but the relationship between the oceanographer and Chief Brody’s wife, heated in the book, was nixed for the film. None of the characters in the book are that likable, but Spielberg made them better, rounder characters, even if the background for most are paper thin. Robert Shaw steals every scene he is in, chewing scenery more than the shark at times.
So, over thirty years later, the new Blu-Ray edition of Jaws came out this Summer, and I had to see if the movie holds up. Back then, my older sister, at the age of 11, would not sleep alone for months afterwards. Trips to the public swimming pool brought on games of shark attack, kids holding pointy elbows above the water, mimicking the shark from Jaws.
The movie is the best digitally remastered and fully restored film I have seen in quite some time and should hold onto this ad tagline easily: The film that still makes audiences afraid to go in the water.
Most people who reminisce about the first time they saw Jaws speak about how terrified of leaving the beach and going into the ocean they were, how scared they were on their boats, but when asked for more memories they also mention the wonderful score by John Williams. Play only a couple notes and most people know the music, but when I watched the film again, and I have seen it countless times, I noticed how the music changed during the film. I divide the film into two parts. The first part is true suspense, the opening scene of a young woman’s slaughter still bringing fright, the music tense, with a deep throbbing pulse, moving to more scenes of the shark feasting on the unaware, or the foolish. When Quint, Robert Shaw, introduces himself by scratching his fingernails across a blackboard, everyone comes to attention. He is the crusty malcontent, a misanthrope, with a hidden darkness motivating his actions. When the three men take Quint’s boat, the Orca, out to hunt the great white shark, the music, especially in the daylight scenes, turns to what is now familiar adventure-themed notes — what has become something of a Spielberg flourish in many of his other rousing cinematic escapades.
Sure Roy Scheider is great as the police chief and a young Richard Dreyfuss nails the smarminess of the pushy, know-it-all shark expert, Hooper, but Robert Shaw gets to deliver one of the most revered monologues ever written for film. The audience, and the men on board his boat, get to learn what drives him, and soon, it’s obvious to everyone that his mania has always been barely held in check. The role of a lifetime.
Quint: “This shark, swallow you whole.”
The shark becomes the ominous other, the monster beneath the reef, the bogeyman that haunts nightmares, and man looks enfeebled in his terrifying presence. The heart of Jaws belongs to the shark, and many people who read the book were on the shark’s side. Spielberg is one of the few who made a movie version better than the book; he humanized the characters. The picture quality is restored for the Blu-Ray disc, and it looks as it once did upon its premiere way back in 1975. My favorite scenes: when the mother of the boy on the raft, slaps Chief Brody’s face and tells him her boy is dead, that she wanted him to know that . . . when Chief Brody and Hooper explore an abandoned boat and discover the actual size of the shark when they find a tooth lodged in a hole and a surprise awaits them. The extras on the disc are phenomenal and many are brand new to the release, including a feature length documentary with never-before-seen footage and interviews with cast and crew including Steven Spielberg, Richard Dreyfuss and Roy Scheider.
Don’t miss out on seeing Jaws the way it was intended to be seen. Click HERE to read about it at Amazon.
This movie is one of my favorite films of all time. Enjoy the last month of summer.
Mayor Vaughn: I’m only trying to say that Amity is a summer town. We need summer dollars. Now, if the people can’t swim here, they’ll be glad to swim at the beaches of Cape Cod, the Hamptons, Long Island…
Brody: That doesn’t mean we have to serve them up as smörgåsbord!
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