The Shark Is Still Working – The Legacy &
Impact Of JAWS
Documentary Film: B
Steven Spielberg’s Jaws
(1975) is a film people still like, talk about, watch and enjoy. It is not an art film, nor is it intended to
be. It is a Horror film and Spielberg
imitated Alfred Hitchcock often, but yet it is not a mere imitator of The Birds or Psycho. It has several
sequels and so many imitators, that Universal even sued the makers of one of
them (Great White, which tried to
rip off the first two films at once) to get it off the market. Producers Erik Hollander, James
Gelet, Jake Gove, and Michael Roddy have been long time fans of the film and have
created a new documentary on the film called The Shark Is Still Working.
Now here’s the thing.
It is not coming to theaters, it is not coming to Blu-ray or DVD or
available anywhere yet because it is a finished work that has yet to find a
distributor. But as a first for this
website, we are reviewing and unreleased work and it is so good, you’ll see why
we think so many would enjoy seeing it.
This cut runs 2.5 hours and is nicely paced in many
sections that are logic and build up how the film came to be. Narrated by the late Roy Scheider, the film
begins in the very beginning with the book and after acknowledging the hit the
film was, starts at square one on how the book was picked up when it was not
yet a hit and became one as the film was in production.
Amazingly, the Producers also landed interviews with most
of the principals involved in the making of the film including Scheider, Percy
Rodriguez (who did the great voiceovers for the trailers) and author Peter
Benchley, all of whom have passed away since this was finished. They also got to interview Spielberg,
Composer John Williams, Richard Dreyfuss, Cinematographer Bill Butler,
David Brown, Richard Zanuck, great archive footage of Editor Verna Fields,
Production Designer Joe Alves, Lorraine Gary and many others. Just all that makes this film a labor of
love, but directors like Kevin Smith and Bryan Singer are among those who
express what huge fans they are of the film.
We see so many documentaries and even far more featurettes
these days on Blu-ray and DVD that most are just junk that repeat the same
formulaic things over and over again, plus most films do not offer much to
discuss after you watch them. That this
is so good long after Universal and Laurent Bouzereau did such a great
documentary for the film when the 12” LaserDisc gift set was issued many years
ago shows how much of a back story this film has. It even interviews Bouzereau about that.
Also covered is the Jaws-mania
that followed in its blockbuster success, how it was an early marketing
success, set up summer as the successor to the holiday as the blockbuster
season, shows the fan base that has slowly built up over the years and squeezes
in every side story you can think of. We
will not ruin any of those, but the many stories here are terrific and it makes
for a spectacular viewing for any fan of the film or of films in general.
I also enjoyed the plethora of memorabilia from the film
starting with T-shirts to endless magazine covers, spoofs, celebrations and the
fun of the time the film generated easily forgotten. It also acknowledges the negative attitude it
produced against sharks that still needs to change. It covers new fan gatherings and a future for
the film that actually renews interest for those who may consider the film worn
out or worn down.
Yes, the original film has been played often, but not as
much as it used to be. Universal
upgraded it for DVD release and is reportedly being fixed up for Blu-ray
release. Rights issues beyond this
coverage notwithstanding, I wish Universal or some other entity would land this
for release. I also strongly believe it
would set a new higher standard and bar for such works in and out of the
studios and that too would be a welcome change.
For now, The Shark Is Still Working is the best
movie documentary you’ve never seen, but if enough people show interest, that