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Cage goes in the water, you go in the water. Shark's in the water. Our shark.
June 7, 2011 1:17 PM   Subscribe

"The shark not working was a godsend. It made me become more like Alfred Hitchcock than like Ray Harryhausen" - Steven Spielberg relives the filming of Jaws.
posted by Artw (51 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite

 
I can't read that page. Its not that the text isn't there, its that the text is large, bold, in alternating backgrounds of teal and stark white. It just hurts to look at it, let alone parse the words.
posted by Slackermagee at 1:20 PM on June 7, 2011 [5 favorites]


That's called "Being AICN". Quite why they choose to present themselves like that I do not know. It ain't going to kill you.
posted by Artw at 1:21 PM on June 7, 2011


Scroll down a bit and you hit some links for the original audio of the interview (I'm guessing not all of it though)
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 1:25 PM on June 7, 2011


Now I want to know what the scene is that Spielberg thinks about sometimes but won't tell.
posted by Windigo at 1:30 PM on June 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


I can't read the page because some ad on it keeps crashing my browser. :-(
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:34 PM on June 7, 2011


I can't read that page. Its not that the text isn't there, its that the text is large, bold, in alternating backgrounds of teal and stark white. It just hurts to look at it, let alone parse the words.

You might try Readability!
posted by Greg Nog at 1:34 PM on June 7, 2011 [6 favorites]


I had to click the link to make sure Spielberg wasn't dissing Ray Harryhausen, which is sure what it looked like from that pullquote, and I was gonna hafta do some damage.
posted by Gator at 1:36 PM on June 7, 2011 [6 favorites]


I had to click the link to make sure Spielberg wasn't dissing Ray Harryhausen, which is sure what it looked like from that pullquote, and I was gonna hafta do some damage.

He's totally not. There's a nice bit where he talks about showing Harryhausen a CG dinosaur and seeing his eyes light up.
posted by Sebmojo at 1:41 PM on June 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


One thing Spielberg could never be accused of is insufficient reverence for film history.

In 1982 - when he would have been rich, but not ultra-rich the way he is now - he spent $60,000 [or $140,000 in today's money] to buy the Citizen Kane sled.
posted by Trurl at 1:45 PM on June 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


It's a nice interview, thanks for the link - two guys just havin' a fine old geek out.
posted by Sebmojo at 1:50 PM on June 7, 2011


Are you in the wrong thread?

Under the paving stones, a (shark-infested) beach.
posted by joe lisboa at 1:50 PM on June 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


Once I heard about the Raiders adaptation by those kids, I said to a friend of mine, "Someone should do the same thing with Jaws."

"Where are you going to get a shark?" he said.

"Go back and watch the movie again. You don't really need a shark. You just need a fin."
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 1:51 PM on June 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


Are you in the wrong thread?

I was kinda thinking that a Jaws theme mashup really would be sacrilege... then I found this.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 1:53 PM on June 7, 2011


CLICK HERE TO FOLLOW ALONG WITH THE NEXT BIT IN AMAZING SOUND-O-TEXT!

I am going to have to steal that someday. A nice interview, thanks for posting it!
posted by mstokes650 at 1:54 PM on June 7, 2011


Yes, yes, shark didn't work, shot around it. Very Hitchcockian. This is the standard story behind Jaws.

But you know what doesn't get enough attention? What they DID get, and how they DID use it. Because any low budget horror movie has a rubber or fiberglass monster that is just out of frame/poorly lit has similar shots to Jaws, and it doesn't work worth a damn most of the time.

Give less attention to the shark that didn't work, and more attention to the director and editor (the great Verna Fields) and composer who made it work. Because they made a damn fine purse out of what probably seemed like a sow's ear after dailies.
posted by Brainy at 2:03 PM on June 7, 2011 [6 favorites]


Brainy, I agree with you. The whole team seemed to have worked better as a result of the challenges they faced during filming.

I'm reminded of the scene with Quint and the scars, where he talks about the Indianopolis. It's a really moving scene that was actually made better by the fact that the actors were pretty much all seasick at the time.
posted by misha at 2:12 PM on June 7, 2011


The interview goes into some detail about the origins of that scene.
posted by Manjusri at 2:29 PM on June 7, 2011


But you know what doesn't get enough attention? What they DID get, and how they DID use it. Because any low budget horror movie has a rubber or fiberglass monster that is just out of frame/poorly lit has similar shots to Jaws, and it doesn't work worth a damn most of the time.

Well, Speilberg can say he used that as an oportunity to "be more like Alfred Hitchcock" and not be being boastful - that's not true of everyone.
posted by Artw at 2:32 PM on June 7, 2011


Did Verna Fields edit that cat vid? It's been around since before before she died, I think, and it, too, never gets old...
posted by cookie-k at 2:33 PM on June 7, 2011


I think the most creative, fun stuff comes from challenges like these in filmmaking. It makes you do things you would have normally never imagined, which is almost always more cool than doing exactly what you imagine (cough, Lucas).
posted by starman at 2:41 PM on June 7, 2011


I'm reminded of the scene with Quint and the scars, where he talks about the Indianopolis. It's a really moving scene that was actually made better by the fact that the actors were pretty much all seasick at the time.

Not only are you reminded of it, but there is a lengthy piece of the article linked in the FPP about exactly that speech. Or is that what reminded you of it?
posted by hippybear at 2:42 PM on June 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Nice link, thanks..

Jaws is one of my favorite movies, on that list of about five films that I could watch every day and never get bored, this interview was a neat read!

And, I agree, the Indianapolis speech, and it's execution from the set up to the aftermath, is one of the best scenes put on film.
posted by tomswift at 2:49 PM on June 7, 2011


There's a good clip in "The cutting edge" where Spielberg talks about the editing and how Verna Fields and he would disagree about the scenes with the shark and how she would always prefer to place the cut a few frames earlier, showing less of the shark.

Highly recommended video in general if you're into film/editing
posted by TwoWordReview at 2:59 PM on June 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


Well, Speilberg can say he used that as an oportunity to "be more like Alfred Hitchcock" and not be being boastful - that's not true of everyone.

I beg to differ.
posted by fairmettle at 3:03 PM on June 7, 2011


I'm reminded of the scene with Quint and the scars, where he talks about the Indianopolis. It's a really moving scene that was actually made better by the fact that the actors were pretty much all seasick at the time.

Not only are you reminded of it, but there is a lengthy piece of the article linked in the FPP about exactly that speech. Or is that what reminded you of it?


Yeah, I totally suck. I wrote my response to Brainy while waiting for the page to load because it kept crashing. Then I read the article and saw how redundant and superfluous my comment was. Pffbt.
posted by misha at 3:07 PM on June 7, 2011


Great interview! Thanks, Artw.
posted by Twang at 3:15 PM on June 7, 2011


I've actually suffered from the wealth of riches that CG can give a filmmaker to almost over use the technology to get everything out of our brains and on to the screen when sometimes what's fun is being denied your best ideas and then you've got to fall back on a compromise, which often turns out to be an even better idea. I fall victim to that, too.

I really wish more people would think about this, seriously think about it.
posted by Paragon at 3:17 PM on June 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


Ach, misha, feeling comeraderie for foot-in-mouth... er, hand in keyboard? Heh.

That scene made the movie for me. "Black eyes. Like a doll's eyes." Yipe, still makes me shudder.

Full speech is on imdb. Just reading the plain text makes you really appreciate Shaw's artistry.
posted by likeso at 3:20 PM on June 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


In 1982 - when he would have been rich, but not ultra-rich the way he is now - he spent $60,000 [or $140,000 in today's money] to buy the Citizen Kane sled.

So buying a piece of film history because you can afford to is reverence?
posted by blucevalo at 4:02 PM on June 7, 2011


Michael Bay would probably just chuck it on a fire.
posted by Artw at 4:06 PM on June 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


And waste a perfectly good chance to blow it up?
posted by No-sword at 4:11 PM on June 7, 2011 [5 favorites]


Fantastic interview. Especially this:
SS: (In the future) there’s going to be no more digital enhancements or digital additions to anything based on any film I direct. I’m not going to do any corrections digitally to even wires that show.

If 1941 comes on Blu-Ray I’m not going to go back and take the wires out because the Blu-Ray will bring the wires out, that are guiding the airplanes down Hollywood Blvd. At this point right now I think letting movies exist in the era, with all the flaws and with all of the flourishes, is a wonderful way to mark time and mark history.

AICN: I’m in total agreement with you. I wish you could talk George (Lucas) into doing the same thing!

SS: Well, I can’t!
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 4:11 PM on June 7, 2011 [6 favorites]


Point.
posted by Artw at 4:12 PM on June 7, 2011


One thing Spielberg could never be accused of is insufficient reverence for film history.

In 1982 - when he would have been rich, but not ultra-rich the way he is now - he spent $60,000 [or $140,000 in today's money] to buy the Citizen Kane sled.


No, but he could be accused of being a heartless bastard because he didn't help Welles when a project of his was faltering.
posted by Omon Ra at 4:20 PM on June 7, 2011


So buying a piece of film history because you can afford to is reverence?

Yes.

Unless you have some reason to believe that he approached it as an investment opportunity?

I mean, he does seem to like movies - whatever you think of the work he does.
posted by Trurl at 4:24 PM on June 7, 2011


View -> Page Style -> No Style
posted by mikelieman at 4:26 PM on June 7, 2011


One of the things I like about what Jaws hath wrought is that monster movies became ever-so-reluctant to show the beastie, even when later advances meant they could. Because it became standard film grammar for that genre, it is all that much more shocking when filmmakers violate it. It has been S.O.P. for decades, which is part of the reason that The Host was such a pleasant surprise: before the ten-minute mark, the creature (which should by all rights be shadows and p.o.v. handheld camera shots) is rampaging in broad daylight through a city park.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 5:11 PM on June 7, 2011


This seems like as good a place as any to mention that I'm beyond stoked about Tintin. It was a childhood favorite of mine and there's not a single member of the new movie's cast or crew that I object to. I haven't been this excited about a movie since, well, maybe ever. There are just too many incredible people converging on this project, and even jaded old me can't bring himself to be skeptical about how it'll turn out.

Now if only Brad Bird would throw in the towel on Mission: Impossible 4 and resume work on 1906, my movie nerdgasm would be complete.
posted by The Winsome Parker Lewis at 5:34 PM on June 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Er... have you seen the trailer?

/suppresses flesh balloon nightmares.
posted by Artw at 5:34 PM on June 7, 2011


Yeah, I guess my reaction was the opposite of yours. This mo-cap doesn't seem to have nearly the dead-eye, uncanny valley problem that, say, Zemeckis' attempts did. I think the art style strikes a great balance between realism and Hergé's illustrations. Seems like it was very respectful of the source material.

Time will tell. I'm cautious about the medium but the trailer (though it didn't show much character detail) assuaged most of my concerns. Everything else (story, performances, music) ought to be absolutely top notch.
posted by The Winsome Parker Lewis at 5:45 PM on June 7, 2011


Black eyes. Like a doll's eyes...

/shudder
posted by Artw at 5:49 PM on June 7, 2011


Now that I made a coherent statement about Jaws, I will rant about lots of things in an unconnected way. Apologies if I've said any of these things before.

The poster and the painting by Roger Kastel is what made me want to be a graphic designer. I was lucky enough to meet him (and Chrissie) at a convention, and I just babbled about how his one image changed my life.

I saw the documentary "The Shark Is Still Working" and in it they showed Roger's source images, photos taken of a Mako shark fiberglass model at my local American Museum of Natural History. I search in vein for that model every time I go.

The shark during Quint's demise looks pretty eh, but you know where it works in SPADES? When it's pulling Ted Grossman ("You guys okay ova dere?") off of his upturned rowboat. If I ever create something so perfect as that first shot where the shark is a ghost beneath the water and Teddy just...slides off and the glissando in the orchestra mirrors it...I could die a happy man.

There's a "Cape Cod" esque motiff in the main (duh duh) theme that I always considered to be the Amity theme. If you listen to the score after Quint says "We're heading in, Brody" the theme is alluded to in such a subtle way.

When Quint goes down into the Orca to see it's full of water, and the camera pans over to the lifejackets, "Farewell and Adieu to you fair spanish ladies" plays in the bass...before descending to some doom implying interval (minor second?).

I wrote a paper about how Spielberg's life as a rare Jew in a non-Jewish community maybe caused him to change Brody from the Islander he is in the book to the NYC transplant he is in the movie. I can't cite that anymore thought and it was probably all just bullshit.
posted by Brainy at 6:02 PM on June 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


I'm not reading this, it's in a font I don't like and isn't centre-aligned.
posted by tumid dahlia at 6:12 PM on June 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Wait, Martha's Vineyard is a beach?
posted by tumid dahlia at 6:14 PM on June 7, 2011


Clicked the link, & got a virus attack warning.

(just like in the movie).
posted by ovvl at 6:27 PM on June 7, 2011


Nothing new. The best delineation of the making of Jaws was the E! True Hollywood Story.

I know that the Ain't It Cool readers just love those fan interviewers, but I find them really impossible to read.
posted by Ideefixe at 7:14 PM on June 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Just watched "The Man in the Glass Booth" yesterday. Saw that the writer was Robert Shaw, but immediately assumed it was a different Robert Shaw. Guess it was our man Quint all along. Really great movie, too.
posted by ShutterBun at 9:02 PM on June 7, 2011


What's it about?
posted by tumid dahlia at 10:43 PM on June 7, 2011


Last Friday I had a movie night with my kids, ages 7 and 9. They got to see E.T. for the first time.

I haven't seen that movie since I was a kid; I certainly haven't seen it on DVD. And I kept my mouth shut so that they could enjoy the movie as much as I had. I didn't let them see the dvd cover or anything.

And then we started the movie, and...something was off. It was weird. There was the spaceship, I remembered the spaceship, but was it at the beginning of the movie? And then there were scenes with E.T. and his brethren. And then there was a chase scene with the guy with the keys chasing E.T., but...E.T. was galloping. And then a shot of E.T. from behind with him breathing hard. And I didn't remember that from when I saw it.

And I started to worry a little bit. Because I had this sneaking feeling that it wasn't just guns that got changed into walkie-talkies that was going to be different here.

But it was cool, no real harm done, no big deal. Except, then Elliot goes outside and into the cornfield, and out of nowhere WE SEE E.T.

Before the big reveal. It was short, but it was there. Which made the big reveal sort of anti-climactic.

After that though, it seemed to go back to the way I remember it. No major changes that I could remember, except for the guns, of course. And one parking lot scene, where we get to see the spaceship land.

My kids loved it, and it was fun, and we all had a great time. But still and all, I'm left wondering why in the hell Spielberg would mess with the film the way he did. Why are Lucas and Spielberg obsessed with showing spaceships park? And most importantly, why did he take away the power of The Big Reveal, by showing more of E.T. too early?

When Lucas does this, it doesn't bother me. Lucas is a World-Builder: he can create planets and populate the backgrounds of those planets to make things seem real, but he doesn't know much about storytelling. Spielberg though: Spielberg is a Storyteller. Of all of the filmmakers working in the 80s, he understood how to tell a good story. So many good films in the 80s. So what the hell happened? What made him forget how to tell a good story?
posted by nushustu at 10:59 PM on June 7, 2011


"The Man In The Glass Booth," a play by Robert Shaw (mentioned in the interview) is about a holocaust survivor living in New York who is arrested by Mossad agents, accused of actually being a former SS officer in disguise (or is he?), and taken to Israel to stand trial. The play itself chock full of interesting dialogue, but the film is pretty much a tour de force for Maximillian Schell.
posted by ShutterBun at 3:50 AM on June 8, 2011


If that's a deliberate change in the "special edition," nushustu, it's unfortunate. Clearly it would have been a poor choice to ruin the "reveal" simply because technology had mad it easier to show more of the creature.

From what I remember, part of the impetus for filmmakers like Lucas and Spielberg going back and tampering errr-- improving? their work came from a remark made by Billy Wilder, wherein he stated that if he could, he'd like to go back and make some changes / improvements to Sunset Boulevard. Surely, Lucas thought, if a director like Wilder can say that about a film like Sunset Boulevard, then no film is beyond tinkering after the fact.

I can't really think of many instances where this has actually worked well (with the exception of outliers like "The Brown Bunny," or director's cuts of Blade Runner, etc.) But even those examples are pretty much limited to editing, as opposed to altering / adding to the actual images on screen.

Spielberg kinda started the trend, what with the Special Edition of Close Encounters, which to me has always been inferior. I didn't need to see what the inside of the mother ship looked like, and the cuts made to the character development scenes hurt the film, in my opinion.
posted by ShutterBun at 4:07 AM on June 8, 2011


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