Working Titles: Jaws
1975 was a banner year for amateur marine biology, shark sightings all over the United States more than tripled. And It wasn’t from hurricanes, or El Niño, or any other natural occurrence that might bring the carnivorous fish closer to land, the movie Jaws was in theaters.
Jaws is one of those rare films that transcended all forms of critical, popular, and financial success. Lines snaked around the block, all box office records were broken, and children were terrified to go near water. Then unknown director Steven Spielberg had single-handedly created the Blockbuster.
The film takes place in the coastal New England town of Amity Island. Amity’s usually a picturesque little place that’s usually all sand castles, hot dogs, and lemonade, but this summer something keeps eating the tourists. Police chief Martin Brody (Roy Scheider) wants to shut the beaches down but the town’s mayor won’t risk scaring off the tourists. The attacks continue and catch the attention of marine biologist Matt Hooper (Richard Dreyfuss), who confirms they’ve got a shark problem and it’s not going to let up any time soon. Enter Sam Quint (Robert Shaw), a professional shark hunter who promises to end the beast by any means necessary. The three men take to the sea to kill the fish.
They are each outsiders from the community they are trying to protect. They are men of conviction and intelligence while Spielberg portrays the citizens of Amity Island as spooked cattle, almost deserving of their shark fodder fate.
Even though the three are united in their goal of killing the shark, their methods and philosophies could not be more diverse.
Hooper is the man of science. He derives his strength from technology and learned knowledge.
He is the only one to dive into deep water and meet the shark face-to-face. His weapon is a clinical injection: strychnine poison administered via hypodermic spear.
His clothes are prep New England sportswear. Most likely a holdover from his days studying at an Ivy League university. In a crewneck sweat, jeans, and canvas deck shoes, he looks more like a part of the Kennedy Thanksgiving football game than a sea hunt.
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Quint represents the spiritual side of the expedition. Like Ahab and Moby Dick, he believes the only way to beat the creature is to first understand it. And he is the only one who can truly understand the shark, his experiences fighting for his life in open water after the wreck of the USS Indianapolis in WWII gave him a firsthand look into their “black doll eyes”.
Quint’s also a no-nonsense New Englander. He doesn’t mince words and only grows sentimental when discussing the horrors of the past.
His weapon of choice is the harpoon gun. He tethers himself again and again to the shark in the hopes that his will can outlast the animal’s.
Unfortunately it doesn’t…
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Police chief Brody is the common man and the fusion between Hooper and Quints’ two halves. He also is the only one with a pure motive, he’s out to protect his family and the citizens of Amity Island while Quint pursues a personal vendetta and Hooper wants scientific fame.
Brody is also the least experienced at sea but he is the one who ultimately kills the shark. When Quint and Hoopers’ methods have failed, the ship is sinking, and it looks like all is lost, he combines Quint’s rifle and Hooper’s scuba tank as a makeshift explosive to save the day.
His clothing is relatively nondescript: blue pants, black tee, grey workshirt. Nothing too flashy, but just enough to get the job done.
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