This year is the 40th anniversary of the June 1975 release of the movie Jaws. Coincidentally there has been an increase in shark attacks along the Carolina coast this summer. The scientific explanation is that warmer, saltier waters are creating ideal conditions for sharks. Probably the obesity rate of ever increasing beach crowds, doesn’t hurt. All you can eat buffet?
Sorry, shark attack victims. I don’t go in the water.
I don’t want to say the someone ( Spielberg) in the publicity department thought that it would be a great idea to inundate the coastline with extra sharks in time for re-releases of the film, but we’re all thinking it. Right?
How many small beach communities dependent on tourism are having the same Fourth of July conversation debating the closing of beaches as Chief Brody and Mayor Vaughn in the movie? Perfect!
(Dear Mr. Spielberg, please don’t sue me for slander or libel or something. I have nothing you want. I just teach high school and am a socially inappropriate smart ass who is apt to make jokes about shark attacks. I love Jaws! Poltergeist is pretty good, and Indiana Jones is the man! I’ve never seen E.T. start to finish, but I’m okay with that. If it’s any consolation I’ve never seen Bambi either. You were great in The Blues Brothers. Love you. Don’t sue me. Thanks!)
There was a Jaws marathon on last night. I caught the tail end of #3- Jaws hangs out at Sea World with Dennis Quaid- and rolled right in to the magic of #1. I would have been just a little over one year old when Jaws was released. I’m pretty sure I did not see it that year. I think my first official theater movie was The Rescuers (1977), talking mice none of which were eaten by sharks although I think there were alligators involved. By the time I was in elementary school, it was a cool, scary thing to do to play the movie theme on the music teacher’s piano. It only took two fingers on two keys going “Duh dun, duh dun, duh dun,duh dun,duh dun,duh dun,duh dun,” while the rest of us squealed.
My lifetime swimming policy is to not go in to water that I can’t see through. I love being at the beach for the sounds, scents, and sights of nature (and for the crazy stuff you can find walking on the beach). I will get my feet wet…End. Of. Story. Although generally shark-free, this swimming policy applies to lakes and rivers as well. I cannot say whether this policy stems from Jaws or the report I did on sharks in the 8th grade. Plus swimming requires a bathing suit, and I despise my fat, cheesy body.
I don’t remember the first time I saw Jaws, but I do know that if it is on t.v., I am compelled to watch it. Last night I tried to assess my love of the movie:
- I know I am happier once Richard Dreyfuss shows up and when they all get on the boat. Until that point Chief Brody is at the mercy of politics that he doesn’t totally understand because he is made to feel out of his element: it’s his first summer as chief, he’s not from Amity, he doesn’t understand the profits of tourism, HE DOESN’T GO IN THE WATER! I am annoyed for him every time. In fact, this plot device of the politician making obviously bad decisions based on money and appearances annoys me in any medium.
- The moment when the shark quietly overturns Alex Kintner’s raft with a belly roll and the camera zooms in on Brody’s horrified face. It implies that no one else has noticed and that’s the horror of it.
- Richard Dreyfuss and I jump every time Ben Gardner’s decaying head pops out of the bottom of the boat. Even last night I did a little hop as I was cruising through the living room during this scene.
- Oh, the first time Brody sees the shark! I dare anyone to lean over water and not think about the shark popping up like it wants chum and a cigarette. Here Brody is out of his element again. He hates being on the water, he can’t tie knots, he’s not allowed to drive the boat, and he can barely take directions from Quint. Despite all of this, he remains eerily calm to deliver the renowned line: “You’re gonna need a bigger boat.”
- The sound of Richard Dreyfuss laughing at his own bad joke. (2:01 in this clip) I laugh in response much in the same way.
- My absolute favorite scene is the scar sharing one-upmanship that segues into Quint’s very serious retelling of the sinking of the USS Indianapolis. The image of the shark’s eyes: “he’s got… lifeless eyes, black eyes, like a doll’s eye” has always stuck with me. What’s a creepier horror movie image than the doll that seems to be watching you from cold, dead eyes? The imagery reminds me of Gpa’s uncensored moments when he talks about being a prisoner of war. Quint: “I bumped into a friend of mine, Herbie Robinson from Cleveland. Baseball player, Bosun’s Mate. I thought he was asleep, reached over to wake him up. Bobbed up and down in the water, just like a kinda top. Up ended. Well… he’d been bitten in half below the waist.” It’s the same matter-of-fact delivery of gruesome to the point details.
- Much of what Quint says reflects the actual event, the only thing that bursts my bubble a little is that Quint has it all happening a month early. Most articles indicate that the ship went down on July 29, 1945. However it is too good overall not to share.
Show me the way to go home. I’m tired and I want to go to bed. I had a little drink about an hour ago and it went right to my head.
Be careful, beach goers.