Friday, June 11, 2010

Jaws Returns...

It seems Jaws has recently been injected back into the pop culture zeitgeist.

First, it's certainly no Indiana Jones moment, but Cory Turner, reporting for NPR, casts out in hopes of finding the original mechanical shark (affectionately known as "Bruce," named after Spielberg's lawyer).

The film's art director, Joe Alves, was hired to create the shark, and he remembers very clearly how he decided on those 25 feet. He made two life-size paper drawings of Bruce — one 20 feet long, the other 30 feet. He took the two to a parking garage on the Universal Studios back lot and put them side by side for studio executives. In a classic Goldilocks moment, the bigger shark seemed too big and the little shark too little. So Alves took the middle road.
Thirty years later, Jeff Pirtle, NBC Universal's manager of archives and collections, invited me to his office on the Universal Studios lot and showed me a number of Alves' original schematics for the shark. The width of those famous jaws: nearly 5 feet. The head alone, according to one schematic, weighed 400 pounds.
How pumped would you be just to have a portion of the original drawings?

Of course, that's not the most interesting Jaws related article I've read in the past week. I mean, Take a look at this article, over at Overthinking It that deconstructs the movie. I mean really deconstructs the movie.

Jaws was a trailblazer here, as in so many things. Chief Brody (Roy Scheider) begins the movie as the epitome of American manhood, almost to the point of cliche. He’s a loving husband, a devoted father, and a solitary lawman protecting his community. When confronted by the shark, however, everything spirals out of control. He watches a little boy get chewed up in front of his eyes, and is publicly berated by the grieving mother. Then the shark strikes again, despite the security measures he puts in place… and this time, his own child is nearly taken. If the first two-thirds of the movie is about anything, it’s revealing the impotence of male stereotypes.
Now, I'll be honest, I've seen Jaws well over 100 times, and never delved so deep into it's psyche. But I loved this article. I mean, I'm not going to try to convince you that any of it was done deliberately, but even if it wasn't, it's a great look into what possibly could get into a movie from a director's subconscious.

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