Sunday, October 19, 2008


This superb film about recruitment and self-sacrifice NEEDS NO INTRODUCTION.
The movie was released in 1975 and stars Roy Scheider, Richard Dreyfus and Robert Shaw.
It was directed by Steven Spielberg, and the cruelty-free Great White was supplied by Robert Mattey and Kevin Pike.

PLOT SUMMARY: A tremendous Shark moves into the waters surrounding Amity Island, and supposedly injures some bathers. The island’s aquaphobic police chief, played by Scheider, tries to protect the good townspeople without getting wet himself. THIS GETS HIM NOWHERE, and he finally has to go out in a boat and face his fears. He takes a couple of experts with him to help. What none of them realizes is that THE SHARK HAS PLANS OF HER OWN.


>> I thought that needed to be said right up front. That fact should ALSO need no introduction, but many of the younger generation of Naked Apes have NO CLUE of the effect of this film on their elders, never mind the effects on US. At first it looked like the greatest thing that ever happened to Sharks. Humans were thinking about Sharks, studying them, becoming oceanographers because of them, wearing Shark t-shirts…the USA, at least, went on a 5-year Shark jag that STILL reverberates more than 25 years later. Why, JUST THIS WEEK I spotted a Shark’s-tooth necklace hanging from a rearview mirror.

>> But then it all started to go HORRIBLY WRONG. In the time since this film’s release, our most ascetic and, indeed, our most spiritual operatives have become HUNTED CREATURES, so scarce that in many places we are LEGALLY BANNED from recruiting through restaurants. Shark steaks are, in any case, generally so contaminated with NAKED APE FILTH these days that eating us causes Minamata Disease.

>> It’s a strange fact that many operatives turn regularly to Jaws for solace. Why? WATCH THE FILM AND SEE. It’s an astounding, epic story that really should have been called "THE RECRUITER THAT NEVER QUIT." But this story was written from the point of the recruits, and the human filmmakers DIDN’T GET IT.

>> That, by the way, is JUST THE WAY WE WANT IT.

>> It’s Robert Shaw, as Captain Quint, who SPILLS THE BEANS. Everyone remembers his wonderful speech about what – almost ! -- happened to him when the U.S.S. Indianapolis went down. Even those people who talk incessantly through movies normally zip their lips and listen to this speech in awe, AS WELL THEY SHOULD. It’s not only a terrific speech; it’s also the KEY TO THE STORY. If you’re a fish.

>> I mean, check it out, when that speech ends, AS IF ON CUE, the 25-foot Great White Shark shows up and starts battering away at the boat. This is EXACTLY WHAT YOU THINK. THAT WAS, IN FACT, THE SHARK’S CUE. The message in this movie, from US to YOU, you damned dirty apes, is that YOU MAY THINK YOU CAN GET AWAY, BUT YOU CAN’T.

>> Quint’s final moments in the film are not, shall we say, geared toward analysis or discussion. But if we could have heard his thoughts at that moment, I would expect to hear him thinking something like, "HE FINALLY CAUGHT UP TO ME." I always cherish the hope that at the last moment, he recognized this particular "porker" as the one that bit his friend Herbie Robinson in half.

>> Yes: this is the stubborn, single-minded, UNSTOPPABLE recruiting style of the Great White. "Bruce" the Shark is like all those of her kind; once you’re identified as a target by one of these babies, you STAY marked. This particular recruiter waited nearly 30 years and travelled HALFWAY AROUND THE WORLD to get her man. She watched Quint slaughter her sisters, allowing him to kid himself that he’d conquered his deepest fear. All along she was just BIDING HER TIME.

>> This is the part NO HUMAN CAN REALLY UNDERSTAND. When her mission was accomplished, "Bruce" then made clear to all fish viewers that she had chosen "option B" as her way of moving to the next level of Shark perfection. What a chore that turned into! Plunging herself into the boat every whichaway, swallowing human flotsam along with her precious recruitmeat, practically waving that scuba tank in Chief Brody’s face so he could finally put a bullet in it – seriously, the guy couldn’t hit the floor with his hat. But she finally got what she needed. And it’s as true for fish as it is for humans – "nobody cry when Jaws die."

>> Contrast Quint with his companions, Matt Hooper and Chief Brody. Brody has no more use for the sea than the sea has for him. It’s a delicious irony of the film that "Bruce" uses the Chief to end this phase of her life, and not just because he’s a lousy shot. Matt Hooper is almost the opposite of Brody – he loves Sharks and studies them for a living, rather passionately. But "Bruce" has no real use for him, either. Neither does the only other Shark Hooper describes meeting in his life, a Thresher: she dismantled his boat in UTTER CONTEMPT and left him to swim way, won over fror life but not recruited. This encounter on the Orca is no different. As soon as "Bruce" succeeds in getting Hooper to drop the weapon, she ignores him and gets back to her business. This movie, you see, is a glorious recapitulation of the ringing truth that THE SHARK ALWAYS GETS WHAT SHE WANTS.

>> One of my own favorite lines in this film is Quint’s: "I don’t know Chief; [this Shark is] either very smart, or he's very dumb." Humans never learn: INTELLIGENCE HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH IT. THE SHARK GETS WHAT THE SHARK WANTS. EVERY TIME.

Labels: , ,


Blogger Ur-spo said...

you are amazing how you can turn anything to advantage!

8:42 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home