Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the water

The film Jaws has been shown on TV an awful lot this summer. In fact, they ran all four Jaws films sequentially on Memorial Day on Encore. Last night, the first Jaws was shown on Turner Classic Movies, and it is just one of those things that I HAVE to watch every time it is on tv.

There is something about that film that doesn't get old. First off, it was filmed on the Vineyard, which always makes me think of (Former) Co-Worker Nina, who I miss A LOT. But despite the fact that the clothing, hairstyles and cars are pretty dated, the experience of the characters in the film never really ages.

Nothing really changes on a touristy island like Amity in the summer. My own experiences on Nantucket are very much like the day to day in the lives of Sheriff Brody and his family (including our own experience of seeing a shark fin in the distance and not going ANYWHERE near the water that day.)

And the shark never stops being scary. No matter how much you know about the "making of" the film, knowing the shark was a robot named Bruce and that he sank the first time they put him in the water... when that shark surfaces as the sheriff is throwing the chum in the water, that is still incredibly scary. "You're going to need a bigger boat" indeed!

I think a big part of the charm of Jaws is the score by John Williams. There is something unsettling about it. (There is something about horror films with simple scores that just makes them scarier...cf. the strings in Psycho.) Case in point: I went with JR and RH to see Maestro Williams conduct the Pops back in May and one of the things they did was a tribute to the Spielberg/Williams films, complete with film montage. The first bit they played was Jaws, and when they begin to play that "dun-dun-dun" shark theme, an awkward and uncomfortable chuckle went through the crowd which morphed into a quiet murmur of "this music scares me, are they going to play Star Wars soon?" Compare that to when Star Wars started and the whole place erupted into a cheer.

There is something nice about a "horror" film that has the ability to last, that is still able to scare and thrill its audience thirty years later. Even the most jaded horror film buff probably thinks twice before blindly running into the ocean at sundown for a little skinny dipping.

1 comment:

  1. I've been thinking about Jaws and remembering that I was too afraid to watch it in California because I knew I would never go in the ocean again. I saw it for the first time when I moved to Boston. It's a classic!



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