Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Jaws: Where it all began.

There are so many things I could say about the movie Jaws. It's a film I will watch at least once a week, it is that special and significant in my life. When I was a child, I was really into body boarding, but as soon as I started watching Jaws  more and more frequently, it became evident I was becoming afraid of the water. Now most people would have probably stopped watching Jaws and continued swimming in the ocean. My love for this film was so intense as a child, that I decided I was going to avoid swimming in the ocean if I could help it. I just couldn't get enough of this film. 

As you all know by now I have spoken a lot about violent action and martial art movies. Now while those kind of movies are really special to me and have a big place in my heart, it was Jaws that changed my life and made me really pay attention to movies, and appreciate them with all my heart. This is a film I can quote line for line, and no matter how many times I have seen it, I just appreciate it's greatness even more. For me, this is truly a flawless film. I remember renting this and watching it on TV every chance I got. I will never forget the moment I saw Ben Gardner's head pop out from the side of the boat. It scared the SHIT out of me! 

The thing that scared me a lot when watching this and to this day stills creeps me out, is not seeing the shark. That opening scene is one of the most terrifying moments I have ever seen. Just imagine it. You are swimming out far into the ocean, it's fairly dark and there is no one around besides a drunken guy you left on the beach to pass out. You are relaxed and calm, and you just feel something pull you down, at first it's a slight gnaw at your leg...that little gnaw is telling you one thing. It's feeding time. Without much warning you are getting thrashed about, you are dragged under the water repeatedly, you are screaming and no one can help you. You know you are going to die, alone in the water, and the next few moments are going to be the most painful of your life, as your last few breaths are pushed out of you and you are gushing blood. So if you put it that way and realise what is actually happening under that water, it makes the film all the more frightening. 

What really adds to the intensity and mood to this film is the score by John Williams. When you see the camera underwater and you can see potential victims or just the beautiful underwater landscape, hearing the Jaws theme just puts it all in perspective. The music plays as if you are in an underwater world. If there is any sound under water that could be heard, this theme would be it. I just love how it starts off slow and then it becomes more quick as the shark swims faster towards the potential victim. It is fucking intense. And whenever I watch this film, I am always on the edge of my seat, and the hairs stand up on the back of my neck. 

The actors in this masterpiece, could not have been more perfectly cast.  I really enjoyed seeing Quint and Hooper's rivalry throughout the film, because in real life, Shaw and Drefuss really did not care for each other one bit. You can really see their dislike for each other seep through into their character's psyche. And it works. Roy Schieder was brilliant as Chief Brody. You could see the conflict in Brody's eyes and in his body language and it was so simply done but so damn effective. He is the chief of police on Amity Island and while he does want to do what is best for the town especially on the Fourth of July, he does want to keep people safe, including his own family. But it's his natural instincts which prevails in the end as we all know. Lorraine Gary was another perfect choice to play Ellen Brody. She really brought you into the closeness of the Brody family. While all the crap the chief is dealing with, she just has to say a few words like 'Wanna get drunk and fool around?', amongst other things, and it's these things which do put the chief's mind at rest most of the time. And while he thinks he needs to be invincible, she just remind's he is just a man, and he can only do so much. She doesn't have to say that, her body language and love says it all. 

I love the mechanical shark that was used in the film. Having actual practical effects are so much more awesome than CGI. And it's a shame that in a lot of movies we have to resort to that today. Now I understand if you are making a direct to DVD film which is meant to be 'shlocky' and have that exploitation vibe to it, because those are the things that make those films entertaining. But if you have a stereotypical blockbuster and you are overdoing it on the CGI, it can just look really silly.I know most people will always argue with me on this and say the shark looks fake in Jaws. All I have to say is this, watch Sharks in Venice and THEN tell me the shark in Jaws looks fake. 

It shocks me how many people don't like this film. I know a lot of people who don't like it because the film looks old, the shark looks fake, it's silly because the shark explodes at the end. These are the things people are always telling me. If it wasn't for Jaws, you wouldn't have the 'Summer Blockbuster'. Jaws changed a lot in film history and paved the way for bigger movies to come. If Jaws wasn't a success, we may never have gotten to see Raiders of the Lost Ark. Just think of it that way. 

I never thought my love for Jaws could become more intense until it came out on Blu Ray. At my last job I was a DVD manager so obviously we sold movies at this place and I could not wait to get my hands on a copy. When it finally arrived into the store in a big box, I slowly opened it up carefully and I just saw a tiny bit of the cover and I could feel the tears welling up. As I finally was able to hold the Jaws Blu Ray in my hands, I started to cry. I had been waiting so long for this. To see my favourite film of all time, remastered with so much time, care and love, was just overwhelming. It was one of the happiest days of my life. If it wasn't for Spielberg, Benchley and Gottlieb and their ideas, determination, love and passion to create and put this amazing story onto the screen, I think our film industry would be in a completely different place it is in now. 

Jaws is a film, that should be respected, even if you don't like it. My love for Jaws will never die. And every time I watch this film, I am reminded of the first time I watched it and how scared but excited it made me feel. But also I am reminded of the impact it has had on my life, and how it made me appreciate films and love them. I can tell you without a doubt, that if Jaws had not been made, I would be a very different person, and I probably would not writing these movie blogs today. And the passion I have for movies, wouldn't exist. 

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