Saturday, June 20, 2015

365 Project - Day 171 - "JAWS"

June 20, 2015 - “JAWS”

It was 40 years ago today that my favorite film of all time was released in theaters.

I wasn’t born yet when “JAWS” hit the theaters. I’d have to wait another five or six years before I’d get to see it for the first time… and boy do I remember that first time like it was yesterday! It left me absolutely terrified! Not only did I refuse to go swimming in the Long Island Sound beaches of my hometown of Stamford, CT… I refused to go in or near just about ANY body of water. Pools… bathtubs… even toilets all contained sharks in my mind!

Still it would be at quite a few years before my obsession with “JAWS” really set in. I was about 12 years old and we were living in Florida. I had my own TV in my bedroom… and I also had an old RCA Selectavision Videodisc player from the early-80s. I only had about a dozen movies for it… including “Raiders of the Lost Ark”, several James Bond films, Elvis Presley’s 1973 “Aloha from Hawaii” concert… and, of course, “JAWS”.

I’d watch “JAWS” over-and-over-and-over again. Night-after-night-after-night… I’d go to bed watching the film. At first I’d fall asleep before the halfway mark… but eventually it got to the point where I’d force myself to stay awake until the very end.

As I became a teenager the obsession with “JAWS” kind of hit the back-burner for a while. I’d still watch it from time-to-time… but not nearly as much as I once had. I switched from the old Videodisc version to a much better VHS copy… and would sneak in a viewing every once-in-a-while when I had a moment without my girlfriend or friends around to bug me.

One day I found myself in my early-20s… already a father… a husband… a homeowner. Little-by-little the love affair with “JAWS” returned. It started with me watching it about once a month. Then it became a couple of times a month. Then it was about once a week. Then twice a week. Then three, four or five times a week. Sometimes it was multiple times in one day.

This, of course, went on for years. It’s still going on, actually. I tend to watch it at least once or twice a week these days. I think I’ve seen it about six or seven times in the last month… including going to see it in IMAX this past Sunday.

Friends are very used to me quoting lines from the film. My best friend Lenny shares my love for the film… so whenever we get together there’s at least a half-dozen “JAWS” references in the conversation. When I text him, the tone on his phone is a clip of laughter from “JAWS”. When he texts me, the tone on my phone is Quint saying “Here’s to swimmin’ with bow-legged women!”.

Facebook friends are used to me posting that I’m watching “JAWS” yet again. They laugh about it. They post every “JAWS” or “shark”-related thing they come across to my wall.

People often ask me just how many times I’ve seen the film. I honestly do not know. I tried to figure it out once… based on how many times I watch it on average, and how many years I’ve been doing that - and the conservative estimate was somewhere between 2,000 and 3,000 times (and counting!).

Why do I love “JAWS” so much? Because it really is the “perfect” film. The character development and relationships… the overall themes… the imagined back-stories… the intricacies of how each shot was set up… the amazing editing by Verna Fields… etc.. Every last second of the approximately 7,440 that make up the film add up to it being “perfection”.

There’s a great video out there on Vimeo that analyzes a single scene from the film: The beach scene where the boy, Alex Kintner, is killed by the shark. It’s called “The Discarded Image: Episode 01 - JAWS (Spielberg, 1975)”. Go and watch that video and you’ll see exactly how carefully constructed “JAWS” was… and why it is so “perfect” of a film.

The book, however, absolutely sucks! Don’t even bother with it! Listen to the audiobook if you must, but don’t waste your time actually “reading” it. The same goes for the film sequels - JAWS 2, 3 and 4 - don’t even bother with them, none compare with the original!


Today I celebrate my favorite film of all-time. Perhaps I’ll have a nice cold can of Narragansett beer and “Crush it like Quint”. Perhaps I’ll drink to your leg. Maybe I’ll be singing “Farewell and adieu to you fair Spanish Ladies” a few times. Quint’s U.S.S. Indianapolis speech might get recited once or twice. “You’re gonna need a bigger boat” will definitely be said at some point…

But I’m NOT going in the freakin’ water!

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