Movie Club: Jaws

Discussion in 'Introductions & Off Topic' started by LiamABC, Apr 1, 2017.

  1. LiamABC

    LiamABC Thunderian Legend

    A big thanks to everyone that are joining us through all of this.

    This week's movie is "Jaws" - picked by Wilycub. Something I've never actually seen despite being nearly 35yrs old!
    Remember any ideas for films to discuss are most welcome, and should be made on the Movie Club Introduction thread (the sticky one).

    Just a friendly reminder to everyone that, whilst fans are obviously welcome to passionately discuss and give their views on these episodes, please remember to keep things on a friendly footing and respect your fellow posters.
    Also, please do not post where or how to find the full movie online. And do not post asking others to PM it to you. You are however allowed to watch the movie in whatever manner you want.
  2. Wilycub

    Wilycub Staff Writer and Artist Staff

    "You go inside the cage, cage goes in the water, you go in the water, shark's in the water, our shark"

    I've seen this movie so many times that I've lost count. I know pretty much every scene, every dialogue and every musical cue by heart. As a kid I just enjoyed watching the shark, but as I grew older I learned to appreciate the many different aspects of this movie.

    Right from the beginning Spielberg grabs your attention with the violent attack on Chrissie. You see her being pulled violently, you see her struggling, you hear her blood curdling scream. Immediately the audience is scared and Spielberg achieved this without even a single shot of the shark. Just the music and the camerawork.

    Spielberg said in an interview that he initially laughed when John Williams played him the two notes of the Jaws theme on the piano, thinking that the composer was pulling his leg. He then went on to say that Jaws owes half of its success to Williams' score. The shark's theme is probably one of the most recognizable piece of music in film history, but Williams' other musical pieces for the movie are equally good. Most of them have a very jaunty, pirate-y kind of sound, helping to ease the tension from time to time.

    The scenes with the shark are no doubt the highlights of the movie, but the real brilliance of Jaws is the character development. Throughout the movie we slowly get to learn about the characters and become familiar with them. The three heroes are each poles apart in nature and that gives us some great friction, especially between Quint and Hooper. When the shark appears, all three work together to try and kill/catch it, but as soon as it is gone, they go back to bumping heads with each other. They never really become friends like most buddy movies tend to show.

    There are so many memorable scenes that I could go on and on about each one of them. But my favorite scene is probably the one where the two fishermen (Charlie and his buddy) try to catch the shark with a holiday roast. The shark pulls the roast away with such a force that it rips the pier apart, dragging one of the fisherman quite far away from the shore. We don't see the shark, just the part of the pier that it is dragging away towards the sea. Suddenly everything goes quiet and the broken piece of pier slowly turns around with a creaking sound. Then it starts heading towards Charlie and the Jaws music starts playing at full blast. What an incredible scene!!!

    Whenever I watch Jaws, I always feel a bit sad because of Roy Scheider. He was a good actor but unfortunately never got many good roles or became very popular.
    Mark M likes this.
  3. LiamABC

    LiamABC Thunderian Legend

    I've just seen this film for the first time in my life - quite a feat considering that I'm going to be 35 next month. So I'm viewing this from the exact opposite standpoint to you Wilycub.

    In any event . . . wow.

    The first thing to talk about is of course the music. Those two notes, repeated relentlessly, are so synonymous with the film, you only have to hear them once and you're thinking about sharks. The entire score is very recogniseable as being John Williams, familiar as I am with many of his other scores, notably Star Wars, Home Alone and Jurassic Park. The music reminds me of two things from the 1960s, Bernard Herrmann's music for Psycho, and Sol Kaplan's score for the classic Star Trek episode "The Doomsday Machine".

    Speaking of Psycho, the influence of Alfred Hitchcock as a director is very apparent here. The concept of this film reminds me of "The Birds", as well as Moby Dick, but I'll get to that later, for now, the Hitchcock influence. "The Birds" is one of the few Hitchcock films that left me somewhat underwhelmed when I saw it (admittedly I've only seen it once, 4yrs ago, and need to have a proper watch again), and watching Jaws, I thought, "this is what The Birds could have been". In any event, yes, Wilyub, the suspense element from the start - the first victim, the screaming, the disappearing, the blood, all happens without a single shot of the shark. Imagination is a powerful weapon, and the viewer's imagination fills in the blanks better than any shots of the shark would have. I think I read somewhere that they had problems with the mechanical shark, which ultimately turned out for the better. The less-is-more principle worked here. Hold something back until you absolutely have to show it, and then don't overdo it. That's why Blofeld was such an effective villain in the early Bond films, he was just a shadowy figure, a voice, a hand stroking a cat. See his face too often and the magic vanishes. Same with the shark. We know there's something out there eating people. Don't show it too much early on, the viewers will build up a tolerance for the image.

    As for Moby Dick, that's the second half of the film when they actually go out to catch the fish. Quint does go a little mad, and has the odd Ahab moment here and there. He dies trying to kill the shark - it's how he wanted to go, I guess. Hooper, I must admit, I wasn't quite sure what had happened to him until he bobbed up again, was he still alive or had he been killed? I really hadn't been sure. As for Brody throwing the canister into the shark's mouth and then shooting - that worked very well, even if it was the prototype for the sort of gimmick that audiences roll their eyes at now.

    This brings me onto the cinematography itself. I've talked about the Hitchcock influence already, and it applies again here. What modern filmmakers forget is that when you're making a big massive blockbuster thriller, the objective is not to make the audience gasp at every shot. You need to make it all look regular, believable, so that when the big shots come, they'll gasp as the contrast. And that's what Spielberg does here. It's what Hitchcock did in the 50s, it's what Robert Zemeckis did with the Back To The Future films, and it seems to have become a forgotten talent already.

    The characterisation between the three heroes is interesting. There's an instant respect between Brody and Hooper, a tolerance of each other's world, alien to them but and understanding nevertheless. Then they get Quint and his boat, and he's uncompromising. The parallels between Quint and Ahab I've talked about already, and I wasn't the first to do so. Whatever marbles Quint had remaining at the start of the film are all gone when the shark appears. It's all about the game for him. He wrecks the radio - wtf?!? Quint does eventually form a bond with Hooper when they compare scars, but between Quint and Brody, there is nothing. Brody doesn't seem terribly cut up about Quint's death at the end, and I guess he had no reason to be.

    I remember hearing many years ago about the death of the boy early on in the film, was Spielberg's stating to the viewer that ANYONE could be killed in this story.

    One other point. In the novel "Goodbye California" by Alistair MacLean, written only a couple of years after this film came out, there's a reference to this film, about how everyone who wanted to keep the beach open had their own financial motive for doing so, their greed blinded them to the truth. An interesting sentiment, sadly too accurate in real life as well. For the record, while I am generally a fan of MacLean's writing, "Goodbye California" was a bit on the dull side. Although I still think that the basic story idea would make a good film.

    And speaking of good films, that is exactly what this is. I would say more but I won't. If I say more, I'm gonna need a bigger post.
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  4. Wilycub

    Wilycub Staff Writer and Artist Staff

    I'm very happy that you finally watched Jaws and liked it too, Liam! You were really missing a great masterpiece! :)

    I checked out the score for "The Doomsday Machine" on youtube and you are right, it almost seems identical to the theme of Jaws at times. The same two notes played endlessly. I wouldn't be surprised if Williams was inspired by this. He actually does draw a lot of inspiration from classical composers. Many of his Star Wars music is very similar to that of the classical composers. There is even a youtube video which compares the two musics side by side.

    That is true. The mechanical shark caused a lot of problems, and malfunctioned all the time. So while the crew were fixing it, Spielberg decided to use other "tricks" to indicate the presence of the shark like pieces of the broken pier or the yellow barrels. In the end it turned out to be a blessing in disguise because if the shark had worked as planned then it would have been featured a lot in the film and that would have ruined the whole fear that was generated in the imagination of the viewers when they did not see the shark.

    It is interesting that you mentioned "Moby Dick" because apart from the character of Quint clearly being inspired by Captain Ahab, there was supposed to be a scene in the movie in which Quint is watching the 1956 "Moby Dick" movie in the theater and laughing out loudly, but Gregory Peck, the star and producer of the film refused the usage of any footage from the film as he really hated it. Also in the "Jaws" novel, Quint dies by being dragged underwater after a harpoon line gets tangled in his leg, just like how Captain Ahab died.

    There are quite a few differences between the novel (which is very mediocre) and the movie, and the writers did a great job of removing all the unnecessary stuff from the novel for the movie.

    That also was a last minute change. Hooper was originally supposed to die in the original screenplay, but when the stuntman who was inside the cage with the actual shark refused to go back in after the shark got tangled in the cage wires, Spielberg decided to change the script to show that Hooper had survived to account for the scene of the shark wrestling with the empty cage.

    A very very good point, Liam! Filmmakers of today seemed to have completely forgotten about this. So what we get are movies that are crammed with big CGI explosions and characters in every other scene. The audience never connects with the characters. It ends up becoming more like a video game than a movie.

    LOL! That really made me laugh! :laugh Quint really went bananas near the end. It was probably a combination of ego and fear, as the shark was doing everything that sharks were NOT supposed to do, according to him and his many years of experience hunting sharks. But then you can see how he silently admits defeat and defers to Hooper's expertise, a man whom he had mocked throughout the film. It's a good thing Hooper didn't rub it in Quint's face! :D

    One other interesting thing about Jaws is that the first half takes place over the course of many days but the second part, the hunt, takes place over only two days. BUt yet it feels like they are stranded at sea for longer than that.
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  5. Mark M

    Mark M Thunderian Legend

    Glad you enjoyed the film Liam.

    I would like to read the book of Jaws. It's interesting you found the book mediocre as usually most people claim the book is superior to the film. I can only think of a couple movies based on a book that I read that due to the movie being so good I would have to say the movie is better, and one of those movies would be Misery.

    Jaws really is a cinematic masterpiece.
    It is one of the first 'horror' movies I ever saw some of when I was really young. Ironically I seen this around the time of starting to go swimming at the beach and going on holiday on the boat.

    I never got to fully watch the film properly until around 2004 when I was 19.

    I believe I read that Spielberg was a big Hitchcock fan and tried to get to meet him but Hitchcock was embarrassed as he did a voice over for the theme park ride that Spielberg wasn't happy about. I could be wrong on this but I believe I read that or it was mentioned to me in conversation.

    The Birds is a good film but overall I think Jaws is a better movie. Of course these films started the animal horror film craze. Arachnophobia, Anaconda, Bats, Lake Placid, Cujo etc.
    Like Hitchock's Psycho, Jaws has a truly iconic piece of soundtrack music.

    Less is more definitely worked for Jaws. Keeping Jaws off the screen for so long and letting the audience use there imagination is a great way to make his appearance really mean something and be more memorable. Very much like how the same thing was done in Alien.

    Jaws really is a wonderful movie!
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  6. LiamABC

    LiamABC Thunderian Legend

    Jaws is really what The Birds could have been with a bit more effort.

    I haven't actually seen the 1950s Moby Dick. I didn't know Gregory Peck hated it. I guess it makes sense then that he'd say please don't use it. Odd then why he took a small part in the 1998 version (starring Patrick Stewart and Ted Levine).

    Thanks for explaining about Hooper. It kind of reminded me of Chewbacca at the end of Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens. He's unaccounted for when the explosion happens but appears a bit later on to pilot the Millennium Falcon. It does make more sense for Hooper to surive - let's face it, Brody is the fish out of water here (if you'll excuse the pun), Hooper and Quint are the two experts, Brody's there more 'cos he's the star and has to be there at the climax. For both opposing experts to perish and Brody to survive alone wouldn't have been right.

    As for the film being better than the book, it does happen sometimes. Not often, but sometimes. Easier with a bad book, but it can even happen with a good book. For instance The Guns Of Navarone (by Alistair MacLean again) is a truly excellent novel, but the movie - which coincidentally stars Gregory Peck - manages to improve on it. The movie is so good that when MacLean actually wrote the only sequel of his career (all his other books used completely different sets of characters), Force Ten From Navarone, a full decade after the original, he wrote it as a sequel not to his original book but to the movie! I read the two books back-to-back in my teens, and wondered why it was 2000 men on Kheros, not 1200, or why Miller didn't sound American in the sequel - because MacLean was writing him with the voice of David Niven, who played him so wonderfully in the movie, that's why!

    And I say again his dull book Goodbye California would still make a great movie!

    Of course, more than half of his books were filmed, with varying degrees of effectiveness. The two best are generally considered (and I agree) to be The Guns Of Navarone and Where Eagles Dare.

    But back to Jaws. Sounds like another parallel with Psycho is the dodgy sequels that happened in the 80s. Just stick to the originals of each, both of which employ the less-is-more principle.

    Curiously, someone on youtube did a mashup of the music to Jaws and Psycho, and they do work well together. A little out of time in parts, but I have played the two motifs simultaneously on my keyboard and they fit. As for the Star Trek influence, the music in this movie does have a Star Trek feel to it at times. John Williams would have fitted in perfectly as a Star Trek composer. Of course, The Doomsday Machine is a retelling of Moby Dick in itself, so perhaps the similarity isn't that surprising. I really ought to have a watch of the original Moby Dick and see if there's any music in that that might have influenced either!

    As for Quint, that's another funny thing. When we first see him at the start, he does actually sound like the only person with any grasp on the "how to kill this monster" problem. You can tell he's working out in his head what exactly he thinks he needs. Then we don't see him again until the halfway point, when Brody insists that they need him. Actually that's another Moby Dick parallel I can think of in that the whole boat gets destroyed. Although obviously Orca isn't as big as the Pequod, but then a shark isn't as big as a whale either.

    I'd heard about the famous line "we're gonna need a bigger boat" - funny thing was, I'd always imagined that at that point, they would go back and get one, but no, they were stuck out there. Strange how you know one detail and imagine it to be completely different to how it actually is. The difference context makes can be amazing.
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  7. Mark M

    Mark M Thunderian Legend

    I have heard Jaws 2 is quite good but 3 and (especially) 4 are terrible.
    As for Psycho I must say Psycho 2 is a very good horror film and works excellently as a sequel to the original. But much like the Jaws sequels, avoid 3 and 4, those are really awful movies.
  8. Wilycub

    Wilycub Staff Writer and Artist Staff

    Yes, usually the books are often superior than the movie, but not in the case of "Jaws". There's a lot of other sub-plots in the novel that dilute the whole tension of the story. Some of the differences are:
    • In the novel Hooper has an affair with Brody's wife Ellen
    • In the novel the mayor keeps the beaches open because he is forced to do so by the mafia who had invested a lot of money in the real estate in Amity Island
    • In the novel the Orca comes home each night after the shark hunt and then the next day goes out again to hunt the shark
    • In the novel Hooper is killed in the shark cage
    • In the novel Quint is pulled underwater by a harpoon line
    • In the novel the shark dies from the harpoon wounds just as it is charging to attack Brody. It just stops and dies. :confused
    You can see how these things really would have ruined the movie if they had been written in the script. Peter Benchley was so adamant on wanting to use his original shark death scene in the movie that he kept on protesting to Spielberg until Spielberg had him thrown off the set during the shooting of that scene.
    "Jaws 2", while nowhere near as good as the first one, is a fun, fast paced, monster movie. Obviously the makers couldn't have started with the whole "unseen shark" thing as we had already seen the shark in the second half of the first movie. So making the sequel with the same tactics as the first would have just been repetitious. Instead the makers went full out and showed us a lot more shark attacks. It really isn't as bad as people make it out to be. I actually quite enjoyed it, and we have Roy Scheider back as Brody. :)

    A lot of successful sequels have used the same formula. "Alien", "Terminator", "First Blood", "Rocky" were all more restrained, more suspenseful, more character driven. Their sequels were all more fast-paced with a lot more action as there was no point in again building up the suspense and again exploring the characters.

    I would suggest that when you get time and are in the mood for watching a monster flick, do check out "Jaws 2". But don't bother with parts 3 and 4, as Mark said. Even when you have nothing at all to watch, better to switch off the TV than watch those two abominations! ;)
    Interestingly, that particular line was ad-libbed by Scheider. He himself said that he had no idea it would become so iconic! :)
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  9. LiamABC

    LiamABC Thunderian Legend

    You know, you've listed a whole load of films up there that I haven't actually seen! Rocky, Alien, Terminator, I haven't seen any of the films in any of those franchises (and I've only seen First Blood because we covered it here last year)! I guess there's a lot for me to be introduced to here.

    The Mafia angle would have worked OK enough as an addition, and Hooper dying in the shark cage would have added to the tension at the end, but the other details you mentioned, yes, not necessary, and the tweaks to the film worked. The exploding shark just made for a more exciting finish, than if it had just suddenly dropped dead a la War Of The Worlds.

    Actually, this reminds me of other films that are improvements on their books. The Three Musketeers, for instance, is a book that has several ups and downs, but there are a couple of good films of it. And some bad ones! But the 1973-4 adaption starring Michael York and Oliver Reed is first rate. (It's actually split into two films.) Something I'm thinking of including in this group. The novel spawned a few sequels, all of which were a bit tedious. The first sequel was filmed in 1989 with Michael York and the rest of the 70s cast, and made as good a job of it as could be hoped for. Shame they didn't carry on filming the rest of them. Well, I say "the rest of them", I can't remember much plot to one of them. The action and tension levels varied from one chapter to the next in all of them. I do need to read them again.

    Equally, Dumas' other masterpiece, The Count Of Monte Cristo has so many subplots that make it tough to read, but has the makings of a good film. Sadly, neither of the films I've seen have done it full justice. Richard Chamberlain (who played Aramis in the above films) starred as Edmond Dantes in the 1970s film of this, which was faithful to the book, and decent enough, but nothing special. Conversely, the early 2000s version with Jim Caviezel took a few liberties with the book to make it more cinematic, but that didn't quite work either.

    Richard Chamberlain also starred in the 1970s version of The Man In The Iron Mask - seriously, there is an actor who loves his Dumas! - as both brothers. This was actually the final Musketeers book, but is often viewed as an independent adventure.

    The funny thing with Jaws, though - when I saw the name "Roy Scheider" I thought, "oh, him out of The Odd Couple!" - but no, I was mistaken. I looked up the film, and I was getting mixed up with a character called Roy who was played by an actor called David Sheiner. Woops!
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  10. Mark M

    Mark M Thunderian Legend

    You need top see these films.

    I completely agree about the Musketeers book and movie.

    Wow. That's quite a bit of changes. That definitely would have spoiled the film.

    Alien, Predator, Rocky, Terminator and some of the sequels definitely need watched. :D

    We should watch The Shining at some point. It is a very good book but nowhere near as great as the film. I wont go into too much about the differences as I don't believe Liam has seen it either.
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  11. LiamABC

    LiamABC Thunderian Legend

    Horror is not my preferred genre as a rule. You've suggested a couple of Stephen King titles already this week. Of course, I've been talking about Alistair MacLean, so it works both ways.
  12. Mark M

    Mark M Thunderian Legend

    The problem with horrors are there are so many poorly made horror movies. I wouldn't say I am a big horror movie fan either but there definitely a good few I really like as they are really well made movies.
  13. Wilycub

    Wilycub Staff Writer and Artist Staff

    Really?? Man you really need to watch them. Not necessarily for our discussions but these movies are so iconic and popular that it is almost like its compulsory for movie-going people to have seen them. People just assume and expect that others must have seen these movies, at least once. I have seen documentaries set in Third World countries where people don't even understand English, but still they know "Rambo" and watch the movies. :) Mark, I think it is up to you and I to get Liam up to speed on popular movies. :biggrin

    Out of all the Duma's adaptations that you mentioned, I have only seen the Jim Caviezel's version of "The Count of Monte Cristo". It started off good, but kind of deteriorated as it went along. And to me Richard Chamberlain will always be the guy responsible for starting the fire in "The Towering Inferno". :biggrin

    Like Liam, I too am not a big fan of horror movies. There are very very few that I like. And you are right Mark, it is probably the one genre with the most number of terrible movies! :00 Every Tom, Dick and Harry with a little bit of money thinks that they can make a good horror film. There are so many sub-genres of horror movies, and again I dislike most of them like the ones with Vampires, Werewolves, Zombies, Slasher movies, etc. A lot of blood and gore just does not appeal to me. I prefer more "cerebral" horror movies which target the imagination more, kinda like "Jaws". And there are very few of those around. Nowadays most horror movies are just full of cheap CGI.
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  14. LiamABC

    LiamABC Thunderian Legend

    I guess it's what comes of being born to parents who were almost a generation removed from everyone else's parents. My mum was 38 when she had me, and my dad was 42. The film and music upbringing I got was 50s and 60s stuff - admittedly great stuff mind you! But yes, 70s and 80s classics I've had to discover for myself.

    Which means we can just educate each other then for the next few weeks.! The occasional Hitchcock or suchlike, and the 80s classics I've not seen.
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  15. Wilycub

    Wilycub Staff Writer and Artist Staff

    In a way that is good. At least you are already familiar with the 50s and 60s, something which people of my generation (from the 80s) find difficult to get into. My mum is also quite a bit into the 60s and 70s stuff so thanks to her, I've also developed a liking for the music of Elvis, Cliff Richard, The Beatles, The Shadows, The Ventures, ABBA as well as old movies like those of Cliff Richard (Summer Holiday, The Young Ones), The Nutty Professor (Jerry Lewis one), and a number of other ones that I probably wouldn't have discovered on my own. :)

    I'm sure you'll get up to speed on the 70s and 80s stuff in no time! :thumbsup
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  16. LiamABC

    LiamABC Thunderian Legend

    Well, my music collection did a long time ago. You'll find Queen, Foreigner, Bryan Adams, Elton John, Sting/Police, ABBA, Billy Joel and a few more to boot.

    It's weird, because my TV comedy education growing up was very 1970s, with greats like Porridge, Dad's Army and Fawlty Towers being regular viewing, along with 80s shows like Yes Minister and Open All Hours. I got into Only Fools & Horses and Red Dwarf on my own, however.
  17. Wilycub

    Wilycub Staff Writer and Artist Staff

    The only TV sitcom from the 70s that I grew up watching was the Britcom "Mind Your Language". Either one of you familiar with it?
  18. Mark M

    Mark M Thunderian Legend

    My Mum and Dad like country music and music from the 60's and 70's so I grew up listening to that but I really was never that interested in music. I didn't get really into music until I was about 15 and got really into metal and heavy rock bands like Metallica, Megadeth, Judas Priest, Pantera etc. as my cousin had loads of them on tape and CD and lot me browse his collection. But during college to present I got into lots of the different bands and styles of music lie Bruce Springsteen, Queen, Prince, Dwight Yokham and numerous other bands and styles.

    As for movies I grew up seeing loads of movies from the 70's, 80's and early 90's but I also got to see lots of older films my mum and dad like such as westerns, Hitchcok, Jerry Lewis, John Wayne etc. This is also why I loved films about Knights.
    Start watching Film4 the ITV channels moreoften Liam as they usually show lots of cult classic 80's and early 90's movies. :D
  19. Mark M

    Mark M Thunderian Legend

    Not familiar with that. I got see stuff like ''Rising Damp'' but didn't really watch many sitcoms growing up. The only non cartoon TV show I really watched a lot was ''The A-Team''. I wish we could cover that in ROCKS sometime. :D For some reason even back then I really loved watched ''Murder, She Wrote'' and ''Columbo''.
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  20. Wilycub

    Wilycub Staff Writer and Artist Staff

    I've seen a few episodes of Columbo. That guy was amazing at annoying criminals into confessing their crimes! LOL! :biggrin

    As for non-cartoon TV shows, I watched plenty of "The Incredible Hulk", "Knight Rider", a little bit of "The A-Team", and almost all of "Baywatch". ;)
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