June 20th, 2010 marks the 35th anniversary of the release of the movie JAWS. This post is part of Radiation-Scarred Review's 2010 SHARKATHALON, which celebrates this milestone with blog posts around the web.
There are moments in Jaws that simply leave me speechless. Quiet moments. Odd moments. In-between moments. Touches here and there that add color and depth and shade and wit to the potentially exploitative proceedings. These are not the crash-bang of Ben Gardner's head popping out of the hole the great white shark tore in the hull of his fishing boat; not the brilliant USS Indianapolis speech; not the improvised "You're gonna need a bigger boat" line (often misquoted as "We're gonna need a bigger boat"); not Chrissie's guttural cries of pain and terror as she's thrashed about as a midnight snack. No, terrific and bone-chilling and immortal as those moments may be, it's not what makes obsessives out of moviegoers. Obsessives like me find little nooks and crannies throughout a movie into which they pour their passion and awe. This is one of them.
Quint is harpooning barrels into the great white shark, which then leads the Orca on a wild chase across the sea. As John Williams's score switches from ominous to adventurous, we get a few shots of Brody watching all the action (and also carefully strapping his gunbelt to his waist).
The last one is key, in which we see that for just a second or two Brody's forgotten what he's at sea to do: to kill a monstrous shark. In fact, just a minute before he was screaming at Quint, "You're certifiable!" That "miracle of evolution" is, lest we forget, shaped like a bullet; it practically leaves the Orca in its wake. Brody is now impressed, thrilled by the hunt of this "fast fish," marveling at it as it careens through the sea at high speed. This shot lasts all of a second, but we feel a vicarious moment of joy and humanity as a tiny smile appears on Brody's face. He's enjoying himself.
A moment like this doesn't need to be in the film, but it's here and it's part of what separates Jaws from all of its countless imitators.
RIP Harlan Ellison (1934-2018)
3 weeks ago