Ahoy, squirts! Quint here with today’s Behind the Scenes Pic!
On May 2nd, 1974 young Steven Spielberg woke up in his rented log cabin on Martha’s Vineyard, cleared the sleep from his eyes and went out to roll cameras for the first time on Jaws. Thirty-seven years to the day a fat geek in Austin, TX sits down at his computer to write about it.
I know it was a nightmare for Spielberg to film, but it’s a testament to his skill as a storyteller that none of that shows through in the final film. None of the zoning issues, onset bickering or technical problems hindered this film. In fact, Spielberg somehow used all of his problems to his advantage. The slower shooting schedule gave Spielberg and writer Carl Gottlieb an excuse to refine the script, adapt it daily to fit the production. Technical difficulties forced him to write around his inability to show the shark.
Did you know that the original version of the opening had Bruce leaping out of the water with Chrissie in his mouth? What they did instead was 100 times more effective, never seeing the shark in full until Brody does. One of the best images of the film, for me, is when we can barely make out the shark as it glides just below the surface in the estuary, en route to chomp off Ted Grossman’s leg.
There’s incredibly strong character work in this movie and a brilliant visual storytelling technique that I don’t believe Spielberg has ever topped. Pop the movie in today, turn down the sound and watch it with an eye towards visual storytelling and you might be surprised to find things you never noticed before, like how Spielberg builds tension during the Kitner attack by giving the illusion of one take using people walking back and forth in front of the camera to hide the transitions. Each time he does that Spielberg punches in closer to either Brody or what he’s looking at, selling his paranoia that every little thing happening in the water is his shark returning.
Whether the flick is brilliant out of necessity or a happy accident, the result is a film that I’m proud to call my favorite movie ever made.
So, on the 37th anniversary of the first day of production, this crusty seaman raises a glass and toasts an amazing film. Here’s to swimmin’ with bow-legged women!
Thanks to Steve C.! Click to embiggen!
I’m not done with Jaws stuff. Very shortly I’ll be running a review of the fantastic Making Of book that sees release this summer as well as a giveaway of that very book.
Tomorrow’s Behind the Scenes Pic shows a captain foolin’ around with his director… highly illogical!