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Category:    Home > Reviews > Documentary > Filmmaking > Business > The Shark Is Still Working – The Legacy & Impact Of JAWS (Documentary)

The Shark Is Still Working – The Legacy & Impact Of JAWS


Review By Nicholas Sheffo


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 will change.


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