June 20, 2017
Just When You Thought It Was Safe To…
“We started the film without a script, without a cast, and without a shark.”
As quipped by Richard Dreyfuss on the filming of the classic film, Jaws, which premiered on June 20, 1975. Despite its rocky start, technical problems throughout filming, and costing more than double its budget, Jaws, is regarded as one of the best films of all times. From the infallible Wikipedia:
“In the years since its release, Jaws has frequently been cited by film critics and industry professionals as one of the greatest movies of all time. It was number 48 on American Film Institute’s 100 Years… 100 Movies, a list of the greatest American films of all time compiled in 1998; it dropped to number 56 on the 10 Year Anniversary list. AFI also ranked the shark at number 18 on its list of the 50 Best Villains, Roy Scheider’s line “You’re gonna need a bigger boat” 35th on a list of top 100 movie quotes, Williams’ score at sixth on a list of 100 Years of Film Scores, and the film as second on a list of 100 most thrilling films, behind only Psycho. In 2003, The New York Times included the film on its list of the best 1,000 movies ever made.”
It took only two weeks for the film to recoup production costs and it is recognized as the first ‘summer blockbuster’ film, setting a template for future filmmakers.
Of course the long term effect was the impact on people’s psyches, preying on our fear of an unknown, unseen killer, lurking in the ocean’s depths. In reality the average number of people killed by great white sharks annually is six. Not exactly an Amity Island level of vicious attacks.
So should we be afraid to go back in the water?
In December 2005 my family and I were about to go snorkeling at a benign looking bay called Kanahena Cove on Maui. It was just after sunrise and we were the only four people there: myself, my husband and our son, age 15, and our daughter, age 12. Because we had to share snorkel sets we decided that my husband and son would go first. So my daughter and I were on the lava rocks near where the guys had, a moment earlier, climbed into the water.
Just then, a car drives past on the road (about 20 yards away) and screeches to a halt. A woman gets out and erupts into a tirade:
“You know, there are sharks in the water,” she yells at us, “and one could take her in a single bite (pointing to my daughter).”
Dumfounded, I stare at the woman, speechless. She continues her rant:
“The sharks are angry at George Bush for the war in Iraq, which is why there have been increased shark attacks.”
The screed went on for another minute although I don’t recall all she said. What I do know is that my 12 year old daughter WAS afraid to get in the water and all of us retain a rather vivid memory of that day.
Personally, I’m skeptical that politics motivate sharks. I would speculate that other factors such as increased human presence, the El Nino and La Nina changes in ocean water temperatures and food sources, are more likely to influence attacks.
For the record? In 2015 there were 98 shark attacks, six of them fatal. Which is 40 more than the number of attacks in 2005. So much for that woman’s theory.
For more information about Jaws: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jaws_(film)
And about the record setting 2015 year: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-nation/wp/2016/02/09/a-record-number-of-people-were-attacked-by-sharks-last-year/?utm_term=.edad50a5906e
And just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water…