|Quint, as portrayed by actor Robert Shaw, going shark hunting in the movie Jaws. Taken from my TV, fair use claimed, credit to Spike TV, Universal, Peter Benchley, et al, again, fair use.|
I'm in a good mood. My beloved Iowa Hawkeyes reclaimed the Cy-Hawk Trophy from Iowa State yesterday. I taped, er I mean, "TiVoed" the game and watched it late. It was nice to see a win. It was especially nice to have something as trivial as a college football game to focus on after what yesterday's focus was on...9/11.
When Iowa loses, I usually shut off the TV. When Iowa wins, I'll gladly watch whatever late game is on, SEC, Mountain West, whatever. As I was flipping thru the channels last night, I came across Jaws.
Jaws is the film that tells the tale of a shark. A shark that well, eats people. Living in Iowa, being a time zone, or more away from an ocean, sharks are an abject threat. Kind of like dragons. You don't want to mess with either one, yet the odds of running into one are pretty slim.
The movie came out 40 years ago and still is living on (and not showing it's age one bit) on cable TV. Well, that's not exactly accurate. There are some things about the movie that date it. For example, the town mayor wearing a wide lapel blue striped jacket (and don't forget the anchor one, too) while SMOKING in a hospital.
Yet the story, at its base level, is timeless. A crisis arrives and the protagonist(s) have to deal with it. The main character, Martin Brody, is the chief of police of a small, summer resort town. It's on an island actually. Oh, and he cannot swim. Perhaps not the best place to work. Then again, as Brody quips, "It's not an island if you look at the water from the beach." (Or words to that effect.)
There is the iconic scene of when Brody, et al come "face to fin" with their nemesis. I could describe it. Then again, there's nothing like seeing it. And since you've all been especially good and dedicated readers (as well as YouTube's liberal sharing policy, yup, claiming fair use on this as well), here you go.
What makes a great movie, in my opinion, is a couple of things. First, it must tell a story. I've heard that good stories usually have this theme: A stranger comes to town. Well, we've got a stranger here.
Second, it has to tell a good story. It is a suspenseful movie. It's not a horror film, a slasher flick or any of the sort. Thanks to the music of John Williams (da-Da, Da DA DA!!) we don't need to see the shark. We can...feel him. Where is he? When will he strike next? Can he be killed?
Third, it cannot be all doom and gloom. Even Hamlet has some light moments, and so does Jaws. It is a terrific cast and was masterfully done by Steven Spielberg...at 26.
Then, there is the underlying theme of man's epic struggle against a mighty adversary. Quint smashes the radio (and seals his own doom) to prevent the Coast Guard for coming to the rescue. This is Quint's fight, to win or lose. As I watch the film, I think of Hemmingway's Old Man and the Sea. I wonder if Spielberg thought about that as he was making this film.
I doubt it. From what I know from the making of the film (see the credits below) many things went wrong during the making of it. I think Spielberg was trying to not run out of money and summer as he made this masterpiece.
Oh, and the third thing a movie needs to be great is a climatic ending. We've got that here as well. In a movie chalk full of great lines, perhaps the best one is this: "Smile you son of a..." That line is from the photo below:
|Chief Martin Brody, played by Roy Schneider, in the final scene. (Squeeze, don't pull Marty.) Photo also taken from my TV, fair use claimed, credit to Spike TV, Universal, Peter Benchley, et al,|
In a world full of bad news and troubling times, movies offer an escape. Well, perhaps escape is too strong a word. How about this: A respite, an opportunity to indulge in a mix of comfort and excitement. In this case, we get to "experience" the fight on the sea and stay dry. We get the ending we want, perhaps need. I think that is OK. It's fine to "take a knee" once in a while and enjoy a late night movie, especially this one.
Perhaps it is good this was on at summer's twilight. After all, I might think twice about going back into the water.
Be well friends,