"It comes in five dubbed and 21 subtitled languages, and
the message in all of them is . . . 'dum dum dum dum' (That's a
dumb musical joke for those familiar with composer John Williams'
famous signature phrase that signals lurking danger.) Jaws became
a blockbuster hit, and a reference point for creature thrillers
because Steven Spielberg and the producers were the first to
attempt a realistic drama with a giant white shark as the star.
In the 50 minute doco about the film that is one of the disc's
highlights, one of the producers, David Brown, admits that after
their initial elation at signing to make the film, they faced a
huge challenge. "If we'd read the script a second
time," he says frankly, "we wouldn't have made the
But they did. They had just produced Spielberg's Sugarland
Express and then this came along; and how that happened is part
of the doco, which is made in the tradition doco style. But of
course it has been made especially for the DVD, with some footage
of the younger Spielberg contrasting nicely with the Spielberg we
see today. Bearded, greyer - and wiser. He remarks how he looks
back on those years now, and how he thinks of Jaws as symbolising
'fear and stupidity'. Fear of danger, stupidity to make the film,
perhaps. . . .
He refers to his earlier film, Duel, and how he recognised the
parallel to Jaws (down to the four letter title…) He even
used the same borrowed sound effect at the end of Jaws - actually
from an earlier B grade dinosaur picture.
Ron & Valerie Taylor speak informatively about shooting
some of the real shark footage underwater in Australia, and the
cast (who were cast as "just good actors, since our shark
was the star") reflect on their experiences - sometimes
humourously. Richard Dreyfuss, for example, recalls how he had
changed his mind about accepting the role after he saw his
performance in the previous film he had shot, The Apprenticeship
of Duddy Kravitz. He thought he'd better get a job fast, before
people saw how bad he was, he says. "I was awful! So I came
crawling for the job . . . "
We also learn who was Spielberg's first choice for the role of
Quint, eventually played (brilliantly) by Robert Shaw.
Spielberg himself tells us how he used to refer one of the
models built for the film as the great white turd, and how
filming became a drawn out and trying process for the whole crew.
One anecdote of an accident with a boat drove home the dangers,
as Spielberg called out to get the actors off a sinking boat. But
the sound recordist, holding his gear over his head, had other
Even author Peter Benchley gets his say, and reveals the fight
he had with Spielberg over the ending. Spielberg won.
The deleted scenes and outtakes are there simply for bumf and
contribute little except trivia fodder; and the trivia game is
pretty basic, with 12 questions and a clue button to take you to
parts of the movie for the answers. For those who want to go deep
into Jaws, there are storyboards and original drawings - and the
trailers, which remind us how much trailers used to be (and how
much less irritating the voice-over!)
Jaws was one of those films that are a milestone in movie
making for one reason or another, and this DVD serves to revisit
the film in digital quality and to put it in context through the
Andrew L. Urban