harsens_rob (harsens_rob) wrote,

JAWS review - warning - really long. PART 1 of 2.

JAWS (1975)

Starring: Roy Scheider, Richard Dreyfuss, Robert Shaw, Lorraine Gary, Murray Hamilton

DIR: Steven Spielberg

Foreword: Ahh, what can one say about Jaws that hasn't been said over and over and over again. Not much, really. This was the blockbuster that started the unfortunate craving for summer blockbusters that has caused so much overhyped crap to appear in June through August. It also started a rip-off craze in which every animal imaginable suddenly felt a desire to kill people, featuring a character who refused to close the beach/cancel the tournament/refused to evacuate the park/etc, etc, etc due to various combinations of greed, stupidity, or hideously bad judgement (but usually greed is the big one) until half of the cast is wiped out. We had Grizzlies, we had more sharks, we had Orcas, we had (and still get) killer squid, killer octopi, killer mutant pirahna, killer snakes, killer cats, killer dogs, killer rats, killer bats, killer cockroaches, killer slugs(!), and even killer babies(!!). And, most of the time, their rubbish (especially those made nowadays with El Cheap non-Special Non-Effectos de CGI). Others can give you a passing good time, but none of them can reach the sheer tension generated in this granddaddy (including the more and more unfortunate sequels). So, let's just watch this bonafide classic and I'll try not to embarrass myself too much by pointing out the obvious.... And, as usual, this is not a spoiler free zone.

Scene 01: We start with odd noises over a black screen (possibly supposed to be echolocation whirrs?), followed by the production team and the three top star names. But, most importantly, the famous and parodied to death John Williams score. Our scene proper begins with a POV cruising along the bottom of the ocean, passing kelp and the like.

Commentary: And, I will point out here that the JAWS score is brilliant. Using a theme for the shark, even when we can't see it directly, was an amazing way to get around the fact that 'Bruce', the mechanical shark wouldn't work half the time because of the salt water. It cannot be over-emphasized how much this score, and the editing, and the actors themselves help Spielberg to make us afraid. As anyone over the age of 35 will know, this movie caused absolute panic across the nation. People were terrified to swim at the beach, they went on an (unfortunate) shark killing spree - afraid to death that sharks really were targeting them if they went into the surf (except the surfers, of course, who always knew better - and still won't get out of the water, even after they do get attacked occassionally). I remember having friends who wouldn't go in the deep end of the SWIMMING POOL - the film traumatized them that badly. I would have been 8 at the time this came out and I saw this at the drive in (ahhh, the drive in... such a shame those are nearly extinct). I wasn't afraid of going in the pool... but I will admit to looking below the surface a lot... just to make sure, you understand.

Anyway, we're along the bottom as the guest cast names are shown, along with John's credit and the editor's, Verna Fields. As the music crescendos we jump cut to...

Scene 02: ... a beach. Upon which, is a nice bonfire and a group of youngsters (say college age) enjoying music and pot and drink and making out and basically the same things that youngsters have been doing since the beginning of time and will be doing until we all become passionless, robot like cyborgs.

As the camera pans, we focus in on one particular shaggy, blond haired dude smoking a cigarette and drinking beer. He's staring intensely at a cute blonde sitting away from the fire a bit and staring back at him. She'll be Chrissie Watkins, and if you've read my review for 'Revenge of the Creature' you'll have a hint of what her fate will be (or if you've ever seen a monster movie anytime in your life).

Commentary: You'll note in this review that I'll be referring to the Creature series quite often, because though I didn't realize it before I'd gone scene by scene on them, it is impossible that Steven did not pattern many of his scenes on those movies.

Anyway, Aryan Perfection stare longingly at one another doing a wordless flirting. Chrissie smiles and gets one in return (in between his drinking his beer) and she looks away longingly toward the ocean, separate somehow from the partiers around her. This gets beer-stud off his rear end and walking over to talk to her.

We don't get to hear what their exchange, but whatever Stud-muffin says has Chrissie get up and run from him, grinning widely with him following behind.

Scene 03: Over a dune she runs, with he close behind. Chrissie runs along the beach, happily removing clothing as she goes while Studly-one drunkenly stumbles after her, insisting he's not drunk (which she never claimed he was - but he so obviously is). Chrissie informs him that they're going to go swimming!

Oh, Chrissie... if only you hadn't taken off your clothing. Drunk guy tries to take his sweater off, but tumbles down a dune as she gets to the water.

Commentary: There is a defect in JAWS... I know, with the way it's gushed over you wouldn't think so, but here we are: day for night photography. The problem here is that there are some shots in which the sun is clearly visible on the horizon, but in long shots, the light on the ocean is so silver, it gives the impression of a full moon in the night sky. In addition to the sun/moon confusion, the sky is very clearly overcast making the long shots non-sensical. It's a small thing and you may not notice it because you suspect what is about to happen and once the JAWS theme starts up your entire focus shifts to wanting Chrissie Watkins to get the hell out of the water.

Scene 04: Anyway, Chrissie dives into the water and starts to swim out from the beach. Drunken fratboy is still struggling with the sweater and alas, we won't get to see him equally nude, of course. Instead, he passes out onto the beach for a nap to sleep it off.

Chrissie is doing water ballet out near a buoy (recalling all of the women in bathing suit's ballets in each Creature movie), awaiting him to finally get out of his clothes and join her....

She breaks the surface, sun low on the horizon behind her and looks for her boytoy. She shouts at him to come in the water, but thankfully this is about the time that he can't stay standing, saving himself some unpleasantness.

Scene 05: We see Chrissie swimming from below her (again with a really bright full moon causing her clearly seen silouette). And, we hear the JAWS theme kick in.

She stops backstroking and treads water, grinning happily and wondering what is taking what's-his-face so long to join her. From below we slowly approach her giving us an almost too intimate look at her below the waist, if you get what I'm saying and I think you do.

The music is beginning to quicken, along with our collective pulse.

Scene 06: Above the surface again, we watch Chrissie's sudden look of shock as she jerks downward into the water. She's pulled down several times, when suddenly the water erupts in her thrashing around, and her screaming.

She's dragged through the water, and repeatedly jerked under the water. As she gulps for air, she screams for God and for someone to help her. But, Blond-Guy is lying on his back and only semi-conscious and he only mutters to her to "I'm coming, I'm coming" before passing out for the night.

Chrissie screams some more, yelling "It hurts!" and is dragged to the buoy in the bay....

Commentary: And, she clings to it just like Helen... and just like her, the monster doesn't leave her be once she thinks she's found a modicum of safety. Unlike Helen, who was fully clothed though, Chrissie is all-showing so she doesn't climb out of the water.

Chrissie is, almost casually, dragged away from her perch and as she screams some more for God to help her, she's dragged under for the last time.

Commentary: I think what makes this scene so memorable and traumatizing to the audience (especially for first time, unjaded, viewers) is how long it takes her to finally be killed. The shark isn't in a hurry - not only is she being eaten alive, but she's fully aware of what is happening - at the same time, this isn't a gratuitous scene (except for the naked sissor-kicking) as it isn't set up for us to enjoy; (the way torture porn clearly is...) we're focusing on the horror of her circumstance, not on every gruesome detail of her debasement or suffering.

Scene 07: The next morning, we see Roy sitting up in bed, the ocean clearly visible from his bedroom window. He complains to his wife about the sun, but she points out that they bought the house in the fall - this is summer.

She asks if he sees the kids, but he tells her they must be in the back yard.

She tells him, "In Amity, you say 'yahhd'", which he tries, but she jokes with him that he talks like a New Yorker.

Commentary: One of the wonderful things about the movie is that these aren't actors putting on a skit. They're characters who are warm and loving. And though Lorraine screwed the pooch when she tried to play the lead (the abysmal JAWS IV - lets not speak of it again) as a support player, she and Roy have such a chemistry that you never doubt that they're a couple who've been married for years and still very much in love. This is such a far cry from the bickering teenagers or hate-filled couples that are served up as 'characters' in modern films that I instantly want to grab JAWS by the shoulders and french kiss it until its toes curl... except I don't want to have my face bitten off, so I refrain.

Scene 08: Now in the kitchen, a short time later, the Brody's eldest kid comes in with a wound on his hand. He's received it from playing on the rusted out swingset in the yard. He's been told to stay off of it until Roy can fix it, but we can tell it's a chore that has been put off and put off (we're clearly in summer and it hasn't been done, yet).

As Ellen cleans her son's hand in the sink, the sheriff receives a call on the 'police phone' to the house.

Commentary: Yes, we really haven't gotten their names or careers yet - but we all know who they're playing so I'm short-cutting it. It's actually amazing that it takes us so long to learn the details of these folks, but again, they're such likable and 'real' characters that you don't notice you're not getting any real information and it's over 6 minutes into the film - five of which wasn't even spent with the main characters!

While Ellen is talking to her son in the background, Martin Brody is being told about the missing Chrissie. There are more indications that he hasn't been at the job long as he asks whoever is on the phone about how they find somebody in the ocean, wondering if they float up or wash up on the beach or what. He also tells whomever to "keep him there, I'll be in in 15, 15 - 20 minutes"... so we can assume that we'll see stud again.

Scene 09: Outside the Brody home, Ellen sends the Sheriff off with a 'be careful, will ya', but he jokes about the quietness of the town. As Ellen gets on the swingset with the youngest son, Sean, she reminds her husband she wants her coffee cup back.

Scene 10: Martin drives toward the beach, passing the Amity Island town sign, advertising an upcoming Regatta week for the July 4th holiday. There Chrissie's would-be paramour tells him that he didn't see what happened to her, explaining that he sort of passed out. The Sheriff asks if she might not have simply run out on him, but insists that isn't what happened.

While the Sheriff small talks with him, a police whistle sounds from down the beach. Martin and Handsome-Blond race down the beach.

Scene 11: We cut to the Deputy and he looks like he's barely keeping himself from being sick. As Brody races up, he comes to an abrupt halt and stops Blondie from getting any closer.

We cut to a hand jutting up out of the sand, crabs mobbing it. We hold on Martin for several seconds...

Scene 12: ... and cut to inside the police station, where Honey-Blonde is sitting with an untouched glass of water, obviously in shock. Deputy Hendricks looks about the same.

Polly, the Sheriff's secretary comes in, wondering why everyone is in so early. She tells the chief about the problems with the karate school kids karate chopping people's picket fences, while he's busy typing rather intently. As she bubbles on, the phone rings and she answers it, reporting that it's the coroner on the line.

As Brody takes the phone, we cut to Chrissie's death certificate and he pages down to 'Cause of Death'... he types out 'SHARK ATTACK'.

After he hangs up, he grabs up his jacket as he cross-talks with Polly. She goes on about the Fire Chief wanting something in regards to the 4th, while he talks over her stating that he wants a full list of the water activities planned off Amity for that day.

As he tries to get out of the office, one of the townfolk comes in to complain about something petty, but the Chief has a much bigger fish to fry (hah!).

Scene 13: He takes off on a brisk walk into downtown, encountering more people complaining about things that seem unimportant next to Chrissie's recent death by shark.

In the background, we see the Coroner also making a beeline out of his office (we don't understand who is he yet or what the significance is) as well as a newspaper man coming out of his office.

Scene 14: Brody enters a general store passing a guy who is haranguing the clerk for not having one thing he'd ordered for the 4th. As that is happening, Brody is grabbing up plywood and poster paints.

As the Chief leaves the store and the complainer behind, Hendricks pulls up in the police truck. He tells Brody that Polly wants him to know that the local scouts are out in the bay, earning their swimming badges!

Brody orders Hendricks to go back to the office with the supplies and begin to make 'Beach Closed' signs, while he takes the truck and rushes out to the point in order to intercept the kids and get them out of the water.

In the meantime, someone calls out to the Chief, but he doesn't stop (this man will turn out to be the unctuous Mayor who will inspire generations of officials who will get progressively greedier and stupider than their inspiration in all other monster movies to come).

The Mayor confronts Hendricks on what he is doing with the sign supplies and Hendricks explains about the shark attack and the orders to close down the beaches.

Scene 15: We cut to a shot of the bay, where the kids are in the water doing their merit badge laps. Brody asks a ferry operator to pull over near the kids so he can tell their scout leader he wants them out of the water. Unfortunately, the Mayor catches up in his own car and is able to get aboard before he can do so.

Commentary: And the next scene is the 'cover up/ignore the danger' scene that will be taken to extremes in the coming years. Here, it isn't so egregious on the Mayor's side. Although he obviously pressures the coroner (who we'll talk about shortly) and Brody, one attack does not a major menace make - Chrissie was swimming at dusk when sharks are more likely to be feeding. And, it is far more likely that she was an isolated attack from a passing shark who was attacted to her splashing around than that there would be a 'rogue shark' hanging out off Amity. This is especially true when you consider that the 'rogue shark' was an entirely unproven conjecture at the time and that there just wasn't a lot known about the habits of sharks when this was made. I give both the Mayor and the Councilman in the background a pass here for not going with ruining the entire summer haul on one isolated shark attack, no matter how tragic. I cannot give a pass on the newsman, however, who is obviously only too happy to forget the shark story in exchange for being assured it was a boating accident and nothing more.

Scene 16: The Mayor confronts Brody on his plans to close the beaches on his own authority, and the news editor accompanying him informs him that technically he needs the town council to approve any such plan. The Medical Inspector is also with them, as is the deputy and that Councilman - I believe it was the guy that was running the general store, but I'm not sure. He doesn't get any lines right now, he just stands there impatiently.

Commentary: The local paper editor guy, makes things worse by pushing my patience with wearing an appalling 70s baby blue suit. APPALLING. I also think he is very wrong. I'm pretty sure that Brody has the authority to close the beaches for public safety any damn time he feels it is required.

Anyway, this would be where Mayor Vaughn goes into his schpiel about Amity needing summer dollars and that Brody is jumping the gun. Blue-Suit also points out that Amity Island has never had that sort of trouble in these waters. In addition, the Mayor really puts the pressure on by casually mentioning that this is Brody's first summer and he's not familiar with the needs of the community yet (implying that he doesn't know what he's doing and should listen to the folks who are 'Islanders'... the difference between Islanders and everyone else is mentioned or alluded to throughout the movie - they're a close knit community and the Chief is an outsider who's judgement is suspect).

The Chief asks if it wasn't a shark, then what could have caused the damage to Chrissie's body and the Mayor suggests a boat propeller which the Medical Examiner quickly agrees could be a possibility. More pressure is applied to Brody to change his official report and to forget that crazy notion of closing the beaches before the July 4th holiday (when presumably the bulk of the local businesses are put in the black for the year).

Brody rightly points out he was only reacting to what he was told on the phone, but the Mayor continues to talk at him like he just popped up with the theory it was a shark attack all on his own. When Brody asks the ME if he'll stick by the new report, he says he will and Brody has little choice but to accept the will of the Islanders. The Mayor orders the ferry to abort approaching the scouts and take them back in....

Commentary: Now, let's talk about the ME. While the Mayor and Brody gets a pass from me due to the unusual circumstances, this putz does not. Not only should he have the wherewithal to resist the Mayor's attempts to strong arm him, being a local, but what he pressures Brody to do is not only immoral, it is illegal. He knowingly, for political and economic reasons, lies about a 'possibly a boat propeller' when he knows damn well what those sorts of wounds would look like (Blue-Suit tells Brody they've had people accidentally hit by boats in the water before). He not only freely participates and instigates a cover up, but because the death won't be reported accurately no one will be warned that there was ever an attack - even if it is believed to be isolated. And that, perhaps, leads directly into the tragedy that is about to happen because if the local paper had printed the truth, it may have convinced some people either not to go in the water at all, or at least to remain close to the beachfront.

Scene 17: On that beachfront, a man is playing with his dog - throwing a stick into the water as the dog loves to swim and retrieve. People are having a wonderful time and we follow a boy returning from the water. He walks up to where his mother is sunning herself with a book and grabs his inflatable raft. His mother complains that his fingers are turning prune, but he asks for just a few more minutes....

This would be Alex Kintner.

As Alex is retrieving his inflatable, we see Ellen and Martin on the beach. Ellen is talking to a woman, who we'll find out later owns one of the local motels and there is the point made again that Ellen and Martin will never be Islanders (it's stated in a joking way with lots of laughter over it).

The dog owner and his pooch, Pippit, continue frolicking. I swear he deliberately throws that stupid stick toward a couple in the water too so the dog will splash them....

Alex returns to the water and paddles out....

We get more idylic scenes of people in the water... a man swims (and seemingly purposely gets in the Pippit's path, the jerk), a rather large woman floats on the surface, Alex paddles, Pippit has made it back to shore and his human wrestles the stick from him and throws it back out to sea for him to happily and excitedly retrieve.

We see Chief Brody - sitting separated from his wife and the company they're with and staring intensely out at the ocean. We get a neat directorial choice, and I don't know what it's called but, we see the Chief, somebody walks by and then we're closer to him. This happens again and it gives us the feeling of intensity that Brody is using in scanning the water very effectively. Also, it's just neat.

Brody sees a black shape traveling toward the floating woman and starts, but it turns out to be an old man in a swimming cap (who will speak to the Chief in a bit and is named Harry). While Brody tries to keep an eye on the water, the motel owner's husband tries to talk to Martin about some sort of issue with people parking in front of his driveway - which the Chief isn't really listening to.

Scene 18: A scream from the water has Martin shoot up out of his beach chair to see over the guy's head, but it turns out to just be a girl screaming as her boyfriend lifts her out of the water on his shoulders. The guy prattles on about ticketing or towing these illegal parkers until his wife calls him back and as she's telling him to leave him be (she's at least observant that something is on the Chief's mind) Ellen makes her way over to her husband to ask him if something is wrong.

Ellen offers to keep the boys on the beach, but by now Brody is feeling silly over his worry and tells her to let them go and play in the water. We see a bunch of kids splash into the surf and we can also see Alex Kintner in the background kicking away on his raft.

Harry comes up to the Chief and teases him for not going in the water at all - giving us a hint as to a plot point later, in that despite moving to an island, Brody fears the water. The Chief teases Harry about his swimming cap, causing Ellen again to point out that he is too tense for such a beautiful day. She gives him a shoulder rub.

As Ellen is massaging the tenseness out of her husband's shoulders, we see Mike run by to go in the water. Sean is on the beach singing a song to himself and he builds a sandcastle. In the background, the guy with the dog calls out for Pippit, looking around as if he's lost track of where the dog went. We see the stick they were playing fetch with drifting in without the dog....

Scene 19: From underwater, we join the kids kicking and splashing each other out from shore. The JAWS theme kicks in and our POV approaches a boy treading water, but passes him by focusing on Alex's legs kicking his raft.

The music speeds up brilliantly as we head right for Alex Kintner (this part always... always... gives me the chills).

As the POV swims right into Alex's legs, we cut to a surface shot from the beach and see his raft flip up into the air.

A man on the beach stands up, pointing, with a "did you see that", while also in the shot is Mrs. Kintner lying on a towel and reading her book.

We see Alex bob up through the surface and a geyser of blood erupts around him....

We cut to a shot underwater and hear Alex screaming as he's pulled down....

Commentary: This sequence somehow out does Chrissie's attack for just sheer nightmarishness to me. Although Alex no doubt suffered less being dragged under, bleeding profusely and losing his air - that horrible underwater screaming just sucker punches me everytime I see it.

We hear more of Alex's underwater yells of pain and see blood rush toward the surface.

Scene 20: On the beach, we zoom in on Brody as he realizes his fears have just happened - there has been another attack out there! He quickly leave Ellen to rush down to the beach (but being very careful not to enter the water) and shouts for everyone to get out. In the meanwhile however the kids playing near Alex already sees the huge slick of blood and are rushing toward the beach. While on the shore, the Chief isn't the only one to have noted the attack as people rush into the water to pull others out. Ellen is among the crowd and she grabs Michael and yanks him toward shore.

In the meanwhile, Mrs. Kintner starts to get up with a look of confusion over what the ruckus is going on around her.

Sean (that kid is so damned cute, and I don't like kids) yells at Michael to get out of the water, though he is undoubtedly just copying his father's yelling and has no clue why everyone should leave the water.

Heartbreakingly, we see Mrs. Kintner emerge from the crowd who are all staring out to sea. She looks around still confused and calls for her son, looking around for him on the beach. (It's so, so sadly awful.)

We see Alex's deflated raft with obvious bite marks taken out of it and blood surrounding it (and Pippit is never mentioned, but obviously the dog was eaten as well).

Scene 21: With the attack on Alex, there is pandemonium at a town meeting. We open on lots of crowd noises and a sign offering a bounty for the killing of the shark by his mother.

We see the motel owner woman insisting they don't even know if there is a shark out there and telling a man she can't talk to him, calling for Larry Vaughn to control the situation.

Commentary: At first this seemed ridiculous to me, but then I remembered that Chrissie's death wasn't reported as a shark attack in the media. For all she knows this is an isolated attack by a cruising shark who was passing through - the exact same thing that the Mayor thought after Chrissie Watkins....

While Larry is breaking away from motel woman, Brody asks Blue-Suit to try to put a lid on things before they lose control of the situation. Blue-Suit tells him it's too late for that, as Mrs. Kintner didn't just advertise her $3000 bounty on the island, but has put ads into all of the major papers throughout New England.

The motel woman catches up with them and complains to Martin that he needs to do something about the chaos erupting. Everyone is in a hallway, but make their way to a school room to have a meeting about what they're going to do.

Scene 22: Commentary: OMG! Blue-Suit has paired his baby blue suit jacket with too tight, bright crimson pants. Eww and Eww... honestly, I'm not sure I can continue through this scene if I have to look at that much longer!

As everyone takes their seats, the motel woman is still complaining to everyone around her that they can't close the beaches. The meeting is called to order by Mayor Vaughn. With the opening of the meeting, the Mayor asks for questions first, and one of the Councilman ask with a laugh whether the bounty will be paid with cash or check... to which the motel woman gets a sour look on her face and informs those next to her she doesn't find that funny at all (agreed).

The Chief is called to bring the community up to date on what the authorities will be doing, but all the business owners want to know is are they closing the beaches. When he responds yes, there is an uproar in the room and the Mayor quickly steps in to tell everyone it will only be for 24 hrs, which Brody objects loudly about, but is ignored. In the meanwhile a very clear voice in the background din yells that 24 hrs might as well be 3 weeks.

Commentary: I want someone to yell back, "Hey moron, a kid was just eaten alive - would you be out swimming?!" but sadly, no one does.

Brody looks helplessly at the people all up in arms about his plans to not serve the tourists as McMeals to the shark, while they're all making 'watermelon-watermelon' outrage noises. That is until someone interrupts and quiets them down by scraping his nails down a blackboard (on which someone in a pique of black humor has drawn a chalk shark eating a chalk person whole).

With attention on him - a local fisherman, who more than obviously has contempt for the rest of the locals, offers to catch the shark for them. But, he informs them that it's going to take more than 3-grand... he wants ten to bring it in. He warns them that if they want to play it cheap, they'll likely be spending the winter on welfare.

The Mayor (trying to be polite but with a look that says he doesn't know quite what to do) tells Quint they'll consider the offer.

Scene 23: Out on the beach, Deputies pound in the 'No Swimming' signs...

At home, Chief Brody is trying to learn more about his adversary by flipping through books on what 1975 biologists knew about sharks. Ellen looks over his shoulder and startles him, causing him to spin around suddenly and scare the crap out of her. She laughs and as he tells her about all that they don't know about sharks, she tells him enough for that night and hands him a drink, cuddling up to him. I love this little scene because it speaks so well to their marriage:

Ellen: You wanna get drunk and fool around?

Martin: Ooh, yeah.

The mood is broken when Ellen looks outdoors, hearing her sons out on the dock, and mentions that Mikey likes his present.

This sends Martin into panic mode and he demands that Michael get out of the boat immediately, causing Ellen to tell him he's overreacting. I love this scene too, so:

Martin orders Mikey out of the boat, to which Mikey pleads for a few more minutes, but he's adamant.

Ellen: Martin, it's his birthday tomorrow!

Martin: I don't want him on the ocean!

Ellen: He's not on the ocean, he is in a boat. He's not going to go in the water. I don't think he'll ever go in the water again after what happened yesterday!

Martin deflates: Now, don't say that. I don't want that to happen, you know that. But I want him to read the boating regulations, you know, the rules before he goes out on his own.

In the meanwhile, Ellen is glancing through one of the shark books and sees a drawing of a shark demolishing a small rowboat with sailors being thrown into the water.

Ellen very suddenly yells: Michael! Did you hear your father, out of the water now! Now!

Martin gives her a look like somebody who's just lost his place in the conversation....

Scene 24: That night (or near dawn the following morning - the light changes because of some day for night photography, again) two men in a row boat go to a quiet dock. The men have with them a chain, a very large hook, and one of the men's wife's raw roast. From the dock, they hook the roast and using an old tire as a bobber, throw things into the drink, tying the chain off to a dock pylon.

They watch as the tide takes their offering further offshore....

Scene 25: In the meanwhile, Sheriff Brody has returned to his shark books. We're given some graphic shots that I remember seeing as a junior high kid during my obsession with the sea predators - especially the Great White of course. In fact, I can't swear to it, but it's very possible that Brody is flipping through a book that I read - the photos are very familiar....

Scene 26: Back out on the ocean, the bobbing tire begins to indicate that something is tugging at the roast. The two shark fishermen are excited when the tire is speedily yanked out to sea, but things take an unexpected turn when the chain yanks the dock down and the two men find themselves in the water. One of them is lucky enough to remain in the immediate vacinity of the collapsed dock, but the second guy is soon dragged far out from shore, clinging to wreckage of the dock.

Man One is able to climb back up onto the remains of the dock, while man two begins to swim back toward shore. We see the dock, still floating and attached to the chain and roast, swing around... and head right for him!

In the water, Charlie reaches the end of the collapsed dock so his friend can help him climb out, but he's unable to get traction and as his feet splash back into the water, the dragged end of the dock closes in on him at a leisurely pace. Charlie's friend is yelling at him to get his feet up as he attempts to haul him up enough to get his legs out of the water....

The dock gets within inches of the man's dangling feet before he's finally gotten out of the water, and the men exhausted and scared witless watch as the dock (now no longer being actively dragged by the shark) drifts up onto the beach nearby....

Commentary: This is another chills inducing scene and fun scene, even though nothing happens to these guys. The John Williams JAWS theme is so simple, but effective, that it immediately ratches up the tension the moment it begins to play in the background.

Scene 27: Later that morning, Hendricks is getting Brody caught up on the news of the fisherman's exploits, which he finds funny - but the Chief doesn't. There is chaos at the harbor as every yahoo who has responded to Mrs. Kintner's bounty is overloading boats, throwing fireworks in the water, nearly running into each other in their haste to be the one to randomly catch this shark using the most haphazard ways they can think of....

It's a swarm of would be shark catchers, most of which, we can easily discern have no idea what they are doing.

As Brody and Hendricks are trying to calm down an argument between two boatmen, we see another man arrive who we haven't met yet. He's Dr. Matt Hooper, a shark expert that Brody mentioned during the town hall meeting that he's expecting to arrive to help them.

Matt tries to get Brody's attention, but he's busy trying to convince an overloaded boat that they're going to flip going out like that while also intercepting a guy with a box of dynamite!

Scene 28: Brody has made his way to a shack and is on the phone with Polly, begging that she contact somebody to get them some help. In the background Hendricks is standing around and the Chief tosses some seeds or something at the window to get his attention and summons him in with a wave.

Brody puts the phone to his chest to complain to Hendricks that these are "his people" and to do something about the free for all going on, but Hendricks tells him they're from all over - the locals aren't the wack-a-doos. Hooper comes in and mentions the overloaded boat, saying with sheer amusement, "You know those guys in the fantail launch out there? Well, none of them are going to get out of the harbor, alive...."

Brody dispatches Hendricks to deal with that situation, while turning back to Polly on the phone. Having hung up with Polly, Matt is finally able to introduce himself and tells the Chief that he first wants to examine the remains of the first victim (you remember Chrissie and her "boating accident").

Scene 29: Ben Gardner, out on his boat, is complaining heartily about the chaos in the harbor. He's yelling invectives at the out of towners as he tries to navigate out into the sea to fish. In the meanwhile, we see men chumming, others are throwing firecrackers overboard, others are standing around with guns ready to shoot the killer shark if it should pop its nose above the surface to check out the cacophony.

Commentary: In other words - they've all got a sliver of ice's chance in Hell to actually run into the shark, let alone to be the ones to manage to catch it....

Scene 30: In the quiet of the Medical Inspector's 'workroom', the ME (I guess it should me MI, but that looks like my state), Brody and Hooper are gathered around a pathetically small tray, which holds the remains of Miss Watkins.

Commentary: I never wondered before why her remains would be kept on ice for so long... maybe the ME was trying to redeem himself a little bit by not releasing the body, knowing that his 'possible boat propellor impact' explanation was shit....

Also, Richard Dreyfuss does a good job of portraying a guy who works with sharks, not victims of them, and is struggling to hold onto his stomach throughout the examination. Plus, Bushybeard-Richard was really cute (but that's really neither here nor there).

As he dictates his observations into a tape recorder it is more than obvious the 'possible boating accident' on the police report is so much bunk.

Matt is angered that the clear shark attack wasn't reported as such, but Brody makes clear here that only local jurisdiction applied - adding to the earlier scene on the auto ferry where you could tell that he felt like he had to go along with the town powers because he was really on his own, once the Medical Inspector sided with the Mayor.

Hooper, outraged now, gives the famous "This was no boating accident!" line, and the ME has the foresight to at least look embarrassed and uncomfortable. But Brody also doesn't escape Matt's scorn for not getting boats out there to check the waters for a shark following the attack.

Scene 31: Cutting to the dock, we see a dead shark and a crowd of excited people gathering around. One of the fishercrews has managed to snag and kill "the shark" (which we already know is not THE shark - it's far too small). The news guy is wearing those hideous bright red pants again, but this time he's chosen to pair them with a burgundy suit jacket which is a magnitude better than when he wore them with the baby blue jacket.

Brody joins in the excitement, congratulating the fishermen on hauling it in, but Matt is in the background checking it over with a tape measure around its mouth.

While the newpaper guy tries to wrangle the crowd to either move out of the way, or to arrange themselves into a neat order so he can grab a photo for the paper (and with hopes the AP wire will pick up the story), out in the bay, Quint is looking on from his boat and laughing at the spectacle.

As Matt is speaking to the fishermen who nabbed the shark, Mayor Vaughn arrives and Brody happily reports the capture of their problem.

As Larry and Martin are making their way back toward the hanging carcass, Matt is backing away, having pissed off the fishermen with his 'bite radius crap', suggesting that they shark they caught isn't the shark they were after.

Matt pulls Brody aside while Larry is giving his round of congratulations to the shark catchers. He tells the Chief that it is highly unlikely that the yahoos caught their shark. When Brody insists that there aren't any sharks like that in the area, Matt agrees that it's rare to be in Amity waters, but tells him the bite radius doesn't match Chrissie's wounds, deflating the Chief's bubble.

While Matt is sharing this with Brody, Mayor Vaughn has come up and starts looking over the shark's mouth. He listens in intently as Matt tells Brody that everyone wants to be sure this is the shark. He proposes cutting the animal open and taking a look in its digestive tract for any signs of human remains, as Alex Kintner should still be in the stomach if this is the shark they're hunting.

Larry puts a veto on cutting open the shark, not wanting to see the Kintner boy spill out all over the dock. The three men's attention is caught by an approaching figure... Mrs. Kintner, in black mourning clothes and what looks to be her father escorting her.

Scene 32: Mrs. Kintner approaches the Chief and I'm just gonna transcribe here:

She lifts her veil, "Chief Brody?"


She unexpectedly slaps him hard across the face, shocking everyone gathered. She is visibly struggling to hold herself together.

"I just found out that a girl just got killed her last week. And, you knew it! You knew there was a shark out there. (Crying heavily now, struggling to continue talking) You knew it was dangerous. But you let people go swimming, anyway! You knew all those things... but still my boy is dead, now. And, there's nothing you can do about it. My boy is dead. (She's looking intently into his face, as if she isn't quite sure what else she needs to say) I-I want you to know that."

As Mrs. Kintner walks away, still obviously in shock over her loss, Mayor Vaughn tells Martin that she's wrong, but Martin tells him she's not.

He walks away, too, and the Mayor orders the shark brought down before it starts stinking up the dock. He plans to have some men take it out the next morning and throw it in the ocean, letting the tide take it out.

Commentary: This scene is amazing and it really comes down to the actress playing Mrs. Kintner, Lee Fierro, who was absolutely stunning in this exchange. This is easily the most emotionally wrenching scene to me because of its quietness and the way Fierro delivers her lines haultingly, as if she's fighting to get every syllable out before she breaks down. And the confused look she displays when she tells Brody that she wanted him "to know that", is amazing. Her scene is one that sticks with a viewer long after the movie, which is no mean feat considering all of the great scenes to come when Brody gets out on the water with Quint and Hooper....

Scene 33: That night around the dinner table, Brody sits in silence, drinking. He's deeply brooding and is obviously taking Mrs. Kintner's words to heart. Nearby, Sean begins to mimic his actions, unnoticed.

As Ellen looks on, Chief Brody notices out of the corner of his eye what Sean is doing and begins to play with him. It ends with Brody making monster faces at his son.

He leans forward toward Sean and says, "C'mere. Give us a kiss."

"Why," Sean replies.

"Because, I need it," Brody softly says and accepts a kiss on the cheek from his son.

Commentary: I love this scene, too. The scenes with the Brody's couldn't be included in films these days. Not with everything have to be loud and flashy, and hyper-edited and forced down the MTV-generation's throats at Level 11 to be sure they're not bored. But it is these scenes that allow us to care about these people and to emotionally bond with Brody and want to see him prevail over the monster. I wish so deeply that the young, hip directors would be forced to stay directing C-movies until they learn a little maturity and how to pace and add emotional resonance to their characters instead of making it completely about blood flying and cardboard cut-outs screaming....

Brody tells Sean to 'get outta here' and sends him off to play. While from the door, comes a knock which Ellen answers....

Scene 34: The moroseness of the prior scene is here broken up with some uncomfortable black humor as Matt invites himself in with a look at Brody, "How was your day?"

They share a grim laugh, and Brody replies, "Swell."

Matt has brought two bottles of wine, a white and a red, explaining he didn't know what she'd be serving. He invites himself to grab Brody's untouched plate and starts eating. Ellen breaks the tension by mention that her husband tells her he's in sharks, which elicits a laugh over the phrasing.

Hooper goes on enthusiastically about his love of sharks from a childhood incident. He also tells them that the shark that was caught that day is going to turn out to not be the shark that killed Chrissie, and was probably not the shark to kill the Kintner boy. In the meanwhile, an already drunken Brody pours a large glass of wine over his watery scotch and talks to Hooper about the theory of the 'rogue shark', a fish that travels alone and instead of migrating around the oceans, picks a spot where the food is good and refuses to leave as long as it remains plentiful.

He ends up telling Hooper that they're going to go and cut open that shark that was caught that day to see if Alex's remains are in its digestive tract, just as Matt suggested earlier that day... and screw the Mayor.

Scene 35: Off the docks where the shark has been stored until it can be given over to the tide, Hooper cuts it open and starts hauling out various materials, including things which you wouldn't necessarily expect a shark to consume. These include a license plate and a tin can.

Hooper explains this species of shark is like a garbage disposal and will swallow anything that catches its interest... what he doesn't find is any evidence that it has attacked a person. Martin unhappily says he'll inform the Mayor.

The Chief realizes he's going to have to close the beaches, which is going to be politically disastrous. He tells Hooper he needs to confirm that the shark they're after is still in the territorial waters off Amity before the next day and Hooper tells him they need to go out into its hunting area and spot it, then.

Chief Brody refuses, saying he's not drunk enough to go out on the water, but Hooper talks him into it anyway....

Scene 36: On board a large boat filled with electronic doo-dads, including underwater cameras, Chief Brody (the white wine bottle unopened at dinner now in his hand) tells Hooper about his life in New York and how much quieter Amity Island was. Hooper let's him know that they're in the strip of territory where the shark has been feeding.

We find out here that Hooper has paid for the boat and toys all on his own. He's rich, you see, which will lead directly to his upcoming conflict with Quint aboard the latter's small fishing boat, the Orca. But for now, the radar aboard Hooper's boat starts picking up a large signal. At first, he blows it off as just a school of fish near the boat.

Commentary: The scene here is set up very well. Hooper is going to be going into the ocean, but before we get there, we're already subconsciously wary because the scene is absolutely dark, except for the lights from the boat itself. In addition, above the black waters, a mist surrounds the two men limiting their (and our) views of the surrounding environment.

Hooper directs his boat toward the source of the signal, and we find another boat in the water which Brody recognizes. It's Ben Gardner's boat, who we saw earlier sailing out from the bay. The boat is drifting. There is no sign of life, but heavy signs of damage.

Matt decides to check out the hull of the fisherman's boat, over Brody's objections. He changes into scuba gear and hits the underwater lights on the hull of his boat, going over the side and under the water.

Scene 37: Underside, Hooper finds a large hole in the hull of Gardner's boat and a large, serrated tooth stuck in wood. The tooth is easily the size of a shot glass. As he extracts it, the boat is jostled.

Ben Gardner's face drifts into view, he wears a shocked look on his face and is missing an eye. Matt Hooper panics, dropping his flashlight, forceps and most importantly the evidence of what the island is facing, the tooth.

Commentary: It's a shock moment and it's well played because of the absolute inky blackness surrounding Matt. Even as he swims and splashes for the ladder, you're expecting the shark to attack (but we don't have the JAWS theme playing). Also worth mentioning here, is the last time we saw Ben Gardner, he had a deckhand in the background aboard. They guy had no lines, but clearly he was aboard when tragedy struck the boat. We get a hint of an acknowledgment of his presence by their being a bit of the side of the boat clearly broken off. If you've seen JAWS II, then you can easily tie together what happened here based on what occurs when Eddie gets attacked and dragged from his boat as he tries to climb out of the water....

Scene 38: Later that morning, the Chief and Matt try very forcefully to get the Mayor to see that the beaches have to be closed for the public safety, but he refuses. Telling Brody to take whatever precautions he feels he needs, he tells him that the beach for the 4th will be open and it's going to be their best summer, yet, pissing off Matt Hooper and disappointing Brody. Part of the problem (though I have no doubt that it would have made little difference) is that Hooper dropped that giant tooth that would have punctuated what the island is facing.

Commentary: And, this is where I lose the sympathy I gave the Mayor's viewpoint following Chrissie's attack. They now have 4 dead bodies (the Chief says 3, because he isn't aware of the missing dayplayer aboard Ben Gardner's boat) and the Mayor still refuses to recognize that there is a shark that has decided Amity Island is its new feeding grounds. Instead he focuses on vandelism of the town sign..., his obtuseness goes beyond the pale, now....

Scene 39: As Chief Brody tries to arrange for extra patrols off the beach and Hooper cancels his trip aboard a research vessel to stay in Amity, the tourists start to arrive in droves. There's a photo hanging up of the shark that was killed earlier and we get shots of the crowds arriving, hanging out on the beach, playing in the arcade, etc.

As Brody contacts the boats patrolling the waters, we can note that no one is swimming (so I find it hard to see why there are so many tourists if everyone is uniformly afraid to get in the water - but whatever). There are reporters shooting segments of the situation, including a cameo by Peter Benchley (the author of the novel, JAWS) as a pompous television reporter recording a segment from the beach.

Mayor Vaughn looks on at the shark nets, the patrolling boats and helicoptor, and the lack of swimming and is worried and annoyed (why, I'm not sure... the longer no one swims the more likely they'll spend money on concessions, you'd think). He marches (in his full suit on the beach!) up to a Councilman we saw in the background during the town meeting and pressures the man to take his grand-kids and get in the water.

The Councilman, his wife and their grandchildren do as the Mayor instructs for reasons I sure can't fathom, but the wife looks very terrified of what they're doing....

It has the desired effect, however, as with someone willing to brave the waters, a rush is made of others who've been holding back and there is a wave of people following them into the water. This pleases and relieves Mayor Vaughn.

Also on the beach is Chief Brody's kids, specifically right now, Michael. He has his boat and Martin intercepts he and his friends before they can get it in the water. Chief Brody requests they carry it over to the 'pond', a little inlet considered safer than the open water. As Michael complains, "The pond is for old women."

But Martin asks him to just do this "for the old man"... and Michael, with a putupon sigh, does so with Sean chasing after him the way little brothers are wont to do.

Sean yells at his brother, "Michael, I don't want you to go in the water", but he's ignored of course, as older brothers always ignore their younger siblings (I know this personally)....

Tags: review jaws

  • Fanfic, and what I hate....

    . What do you hate about fanfic? For me, it's any vid in which a strong character ends up committing suicide. For my personal edifaction,…

  • Have a fic?

    . Fanfic Request - Reposted: I'm still looking for a story I can love and hug and make-out with: I would love to have someone grab the idea…

  • Wacky Dreaming - BTVS tie in.

    I just woke up, but had to share my latest wacky dreaming entry -- this one with Buffy. Being a dream, it made much more sense while actually in the…

  • Post a new comment


    Anonymous comments are disabled in this journal

    default userpic

    Your reply will be screened