I’m a movie buff. Not a total cinephile mind you, but I know more about directors, composers and how to play “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon” than I do about, say, ratios, negative numbers, and how to “solve for X”.
So I’m often asked what my favorite movie is, and the only way I can respond is: “Why don’t you ask me an EASY question, like which of my children I love most?” Sheesh. I can’t even list a favorite genre, much less a favorite film.
There IS one, however, that consistently floats to the top 10…
- Back in the days when I wore a mood ring
- and listened to the Bay City Rollers on 8-track
- when I thought Pong was the greatest thing since frosted Pop-Tarts
- and watched Brady Bunch reruns religiously
- and believed that “Love Will Keep Us Together”
- Before I started Junior High
- or got my first bra
- or began shaving my legs
- or even had my first kiss in the back of the church bus
….this movie became the first-ever summer blockbuster. Problem was, it was rated PG, and I had never been allowed to view a PG before. This was a big deal. A BIG deal. It wasn’t just that I wanted to see ANY PG-rated movie. It’s that I wanted to see THIS PG-rated movie. After all, this was the summer of 1975. Everybody was going to the theater… and as a result, nobody was going in the water.
I begged. I pleaded. I made “Big Eyes” like a Margaret Keane painting and looked pitiful. I kept my room clean to earn brownie points. I tried every method known to 11-year-olds to convince my parents that IF I DID NOT GET TO SEE THIS MOVIE I would certainly be mocked and ostracized by every single member of the incoming 6th grade class.
Finally an exception was made to the “not old enough for PG movies” rule, and Jaws became my introduction to “grown up” movies. (I actually wrote “adult” movies, but realized the term “great white” would take on a whole different connotation. Haha. Sorry, I made myself laugh.)
Where was I? Oh yeah. Jaws.
Cue the ominous, repetitive John Williams’ cello theme…
Truthfully, I think my parents gave in because I was a timid little thing and they thought the monster shark would scare the toe socks off of me.
Instead, I was hooked (unlike the 25-foot mechanical shark). From Chrissie’s first terrifying scream to Matt Hooper’s nerdy enthusiasm to Captain Quint’s riveting monologue to Chief Brody’s “I used to hate the water”, I was IN LOVE with this movie.
Frankly, I still am.
When I talk about it, I get giddy. My eyes light up. I can’t explain it. Part nostalgia. Part originality. Part dialogue. (“I’m not going to waste my time arguing with a man who’s lining up to be a hot lunch.”) Part soundtrack. (Du du. Du du. Du du du du du du du du dududuuuuu!) Part directing. Part…everything. I’ve read Peter Benchley’s novel. I’ve worn out a VHS. I’ve purchased and repurchased the DVD. I’ve even read the script.
I can go a little overboard when it comes to Jaws. (Hehe. See what I did there?)
I tried to find an application for this blog. Something like “Life lessons I learned from Jaws”.
- “The past always seems better when you look back on it than it did at the time.” Especially true of old photographs of yourself.
- “Why don’t we start leading the shark to shore instead of him leading us out to sea?” Simply put, why are we letting someone else call the shots in our life?
- “It’s only an island if you look at it from the water.” Yeah, sometimes what we fool ourselves into thinking is good and safe turns out to be tragic if we don’t step back and look at things from a different angle.
- “I’ll never put on a lifejacket again.” Meaning, literally, “sink or swim” but don’t bobble in fear waiting to be eaten.
I also tried to find a comedic angle to this blog. Like how I thought Brody’s line was “You’re gonna need a bigger butt”… followed by 10 steps outlining how I became an overachiever.
I toyed with doing a creature feature comparison between Jurassic World and Jaws, to include the subtle homage to Jaws where Spielberg’s original monster, the Great White Shark, is used as bait to feed Jurassic’s Mosasaur.
I thought maybe I could blog about how Chief Brody’s story mimics my own…well, except for bikinis and harpoons and other weapons. But you know what I mean. Brody’s character wasn’t really pursuing the Great White – he was learning to stand up for himself. A public servant bombarded by a sea of brass bands and demanding islanders. Unassuming and accommodating, trying to please everyone, all the while losing himself. On the ONE occasion when he does speak up, he’s shot down – metaphorically told not to rock the boat. “Don’t mess with our little community’s way of life.” Little by little, however, it’s all left behind, the voices grow quiet, the music simplifies…everything that prevents Brody from being true to himself is stripped away until he is left all alone to face the beast…and is able to emerge victorious.
But the only real angle I have for this blog is that I STINKING LOVE THIS MOVIE. The Hitchcockian filming. The M*A*S*H-like characters. The iconic soundtrack.
No, it can’t measure up to today’s computer-generated special effects, but darn it, it’s 40 years old. It was brilliant in 1975 and it’s brilliant in 2015. Drama, action, horror, comedy, suspense – the “Quint”essential battle between good and evil – all rolled into one giant animatronic fish saga. And a young Richard Dreyfus spewing out lines like, “He ate the light”.
I mean, what’s not to love?
On Sunday, June 21, Cinemark is reviving Jaws on the big screen in honor of its 40th Anniversary.
You know where I’ll be.
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