07 July 2011

6 July - "You got city hands, Mr. Hooper. Been countin' money all your life."

Jaws (1975)

dir. Steven Spielberg (Hook, 1991)

Roy Scheider
Robert Shaw
Richard Dreyfuss (James and the Giant Peach (voice), 1996)
Carl Gottlieb (The Jerk, 1979)

I not sure why, but for some reason I'm just totally not in the mood for writing about Jaws. Which is odd because I would about myself that, at given moment, I am on average 70% enthusiastic about talking about Jaws (and sometimes I'm sleepy or hungry and I don't really feel like talking about anything at all, so obviously that skews the statistics.)

Despite this setback, we will press on. Jaws is one of the most iconic American films ever. Consider the soundtrack, DUN DUNT! - two notes that are immediately recognizable and undoubtedly creepy. How about that perpetually misquoted line, "You're gonna need a bigger boat."?

And the villian! There are no special effects, there's no sinister back story. It's not a mutant shark, it's not a super shark, it's not a particularly clever shark. None of that, this movie appeals to the basic shared human instinct: sharks are creepy as fuck. AH! There's one here!

Look at those unfeeling black eyes, the mouth that doesn't seem to fit quite right on it's head. If you can call that a head. It just sort of tapers at the front end of the body. Would you even call it a snout?

Sharks are just one of those animals that when I see them in real life I just have to say AH! because I really cannot wrap my head around the fact that I am sharing the planet with something that is so different from me. It's like, what are you doing in my universe?

And if you don't feel anything like that sort of feeling then there is not enough wonder in your life.

The major conflict of the movie is that even as Chief Brody knows that the shark will kill again, Mayor Vaughn doesn't want to close the beaches on fourth of July weekend, the big tourist holiday and the major source of revenue for Amity Island. Isn't it so true that we refuse to account for the primal forces of nature as we are making our personal agendas? Mayor Vaughn's conscious cognitive dissonance stems from the belief that nature is something controlled and subjected. The horror of Jaws is the in-your-face reality that this enormous animal is very real - it's in the world with us right now, and it's bigger than you and it's underwater and it can kill you so, so easily and if it decides to chill out off the coast of New England during tourist season there isn't a lot you can do about it. That's scary stuff, right there.

And my favorite part, because I'm also tired, and I want to go home.

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