Rajeev Masand – movies that matter : from bollywood, hollywood and everywhere else

March 8, 2013

Making of a classic

Filed under: Have you seen this? — Rajeev @ 10:50 pm

It may have been the film that shot a 28-year-old, clean-shaven Steven Spielberg into movie-making history, but the director confesses that to this day, he wakes up in a cold sweat, all shaken up with nightmares of Jaws. And it’s not because of the lasting visuals he created…of a great white shark terrorizing a small coastal town. No, while shooting Jaws, Spielberg and his unit often waited around for hours and sometimes days as glitches were being ironed out in the mechanical fake shark nicknamed ‘Bruce’, who was the big star of Jaws.

The 2006 documentary The Shark is Still Working: The Impact & Legacy of Jaws has been included as part of the bonus features on the new re-mastered Blu Ray Disc of Jaws. It’s a fantastic, exhaustive overview of the challenges of making this unforgettable horror film.

Spielberg’s brave unit filmed the movie in the Atlantic Ocean just off Martha’s Vineyard, not on a constructed set; and you learn how Bruce the shark was put together, and also why Spielberg didn’t stay back to shoot the final scene. There’s some unbelievable footage here – like that chilling real-life moment during the film’s shoot, when a great white shark actually got caught in a cage and thrashed about, just moments before a stunt double was supposed to get into it.

With interviews from Spielberg, as well as cast members like Richard Dreyfuss and Roy Schneider, The Shark is Still Working pieces together the rocky journey of the film’s making, then moves on to the legacy of Jaws through testimonies from directors like M Night Shyamalan, Bryan Singer and Kevin Smith on how the movie changed their lives.

The impact of Jaws also altered Hollywood marketing, especially through that silky ominous voice of Percy Rodrigues, as he introduced the killing machine in the first-time-ever television trailers. The summer blockbuster was redefined by the success of Jaws, and so it’s sad to watch young whiz kid Spielberg swallow his disappointment in a rare video, just as the 1975 Oscar nominations are announced and he misses that Best Director nod.

The Shark is Still Working is treasure trove of such moments for all Jaws fanboys, and is essential viewing for movie geeks. Do yourself a favour and take this memory trip into shark-infested waters. You’ll thank me for recommending it!

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