The Return of Jaws

This column was originally published in the Central Western Daily on Tuesday 3rd July 2012.

As a child I thought that whenever I went to the beach, I’d know if a shark was coming because I would hear the Jaws theme first. Da dum, da dum. I definitely had not seen the film at that time, but I still knew what those two simple notes played on a tuba represented: a primal, relentless man eater.

In fact, it actually represents a disobedient, rubber, hydraulic shark named Bruce. The stories of Steven Spielberg’s shoot for Jaws, his second feature film, are stuff of Hollywood legend. Shot on location on Martha’s Vineyard, production was hampered by delays and glitches. Platforms sank, boats took on water when the actors climbed aboard and Bruce never worked properly out in the open sea. Over budget and one hundred days over schedule, Spielberg thought he would never be given the Director’s chair again.

Of course, Jaws went on to be a box office smash, the first true summer blockbuster. As for Spielberg, well, you know what happened.

My first experience with the Jaws franchise was completely out of chronological order. Somehow, I managed to convince my grandmother that seeing Jaws 3-D at the now defunct Hoyts Roxy in Parramatta was a good idea. This was in 1983, so 3D movies involved a pair of cardboard old school glasses. I’ll never forget the terror I experienced witnessing a severed arm floating out of the screen at me. I screamed when the mother shark silently approaches the underwater control room window and then shattered the glass towards the audience.

I know now that the true horror of Jaws 3-D is actually Louis Gossett Jr. and Dennis Quaid’s acting. Actually, the whole film is an abomination.

You would think that my next step would be to seek out the original film. Unfortunately in 1987, I found myself at the Greater Union drive-in at Blacktown with my aunty, to witness Jaws: The Revenge in a double feature with Summer School (starring a pre-NCIS Mark Harmon).

Even at the age of 12, I could tell that this movie was a stinker. Star Michael Caine admits he did it to pay for a new house and have a great holiday in The Bahamas. The storyline is ridiculous. After the introduction of sharks as silent primal killers in the first film, we are supposed to believe that they are actually vengeful family minded creatures that will follow the wife of the original protagonist to the tropics to seek retribution for the murder of their fishy relatives.

The ending of the Jaws: The Revenge is a classic. The shark is impaled on a boat’s bowsprit and explodes. That’s correct. There are no combustible materials involved. The shark just explodes.

Despite my initial experiences, I did go on to appreciate Spielberg’s original masterpiece and its serviceable sequel. And that’s why I am very excited that Jaws will finally receive a high def makeover for its release on blu-ray in August. In celebration of Universal Studio’s 100th Anniversary, there will also be several one off screenings of the restored print around the country.

Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the water, Jaws returns in stunning blu-ray to scare the pants off a new generation of fans. And make sure you keep an ear out for that theme tune next time you hit the surf. It may save your life.

Published in: on July 5, 2012 at 02:30  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

The URI to TrackBack this entry is:

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: