Wednesday, January 28, 2004

Jaws: great summer flick

Jaws is a very good example of how network TV syndication with screen-fitting-reformatting and commercial breakathons can completely ruin a movie for you. I've seen this movie overplayed on numerous TV channels, and when I finally settled down to watch the DVD, I was blown away. Honestly. The scares are ample, the gore variably-toned (the outtakes include a bloody scene which Spielberg knocked out for its ghastliness ... the existing gore makes me question his decision). I hate the epic music that John Williams churns out and there's a lot of that (especially in the moments when the Orca gives chase to "Bruce" -- rankled me!). Yet, the key theme (with odes to Herrmann and Dvorak's 9th) is a product of pure genius. It works wonderfully in the film. And then there's the element of suspense: you actually don't see the shark till very late in the film. The title of the film appearing against a vegetation-rich aqua-bottom is a piece of classic summer flickdom. What else? Great performances (including a cameo from writer Peter Benchley). My favourite section of the film is when Quint describes the crisis of the USS Indianopolis. A genre classic.

The "Making Of" has lots of interesting photographs of a beardless Spielberg (great idea for a trivia bout) as well a rare moment where SS uses the F-word.

And then I wonder: the Spielbergian moments of family make their appearance in this film, although they are not as obtrusive and emotionally drenched as in his later films. That led me to wondering how this film would have been in the hands of Martin Scorsese. Or even Joe Dante.

Sound trivia note: When the bloody remains of the shark sink slowly to the bottom of the sea, you hear a low slow growl in the background. This is the same sound used when the monster truck plummets over the end of a cliff in Spielberg's earlier (and thematically similar) Duel (Spielberg did this to establish a conscious link between the two films). This was a sound bit from a dinosaur growling in the original The Lost World.

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