Jaws is an American thriller film directed by Steven Spielberg and released in 1975. The film was based on the 1974 novel by Peter Benchley. It was the highest-grossing film of all time until Star Wars came out. But did you know the film was not originally supposed to be shot from the point of view of the shark?
Steven Spielberg planned to create a giant mechanical shark for realism in “Jaws,” but its continual malfunctions proved to be a financial nightmare, so he settled for the less expensive approach of shooting from the shark’s point of view instead.
The Making of the Blockbuster Thriller
The beast at the center of Steven Spielberg’s groundbreaking blockbuster thriller Jaws is unseen for most of the film’s running length and is one of the picture’s most prominent and impactful features.
However, because the mechanical shark was a nightmare to operate, this solution would eventually inspire numerous horror films. Without a functional shark, Spielberg was compelled to find another way to heighten the film’s dread and suspense. This gave rise to a new horror technique was created.
Even though the great white shark is primarily concealed underwater throughout the film, Spielberg uses clever camera techniques and John Williams’ primary yet sinister soundtrack to create tension.
The film’s opening sequence, an image of something swimming through shallow seas before spotting an unsuspecting beach partygoer and pulling her down, is iconic. This scene defines the tone for the rest of the film: a growing dread of what lurks beneath the waves, even as beachgoers enjoy their time in the water.
By displaying only segments of the shark, Spielberg indicates its magnitude. A dorsal fin sliced through the water or a shadow beneath the surface. Even in the film’s action-packed conclusion, when the big white is eventually shown, Spielberg refrains from displaying too much detail.
Quint connects barrels to the predator as a means for him and the viewer to follow the shark’s movements and a way for the director to save money by not using the malfunctioning shark animatronic. (Source: Screen Rant)
How Did the Malfunctioning Shark Give Rise to a New Filming Style?
Even before the technological disasters, Jaws was facing production issues. The script was still being revised at the time of filming, and executives were concerned about the high budget under the guidance of an unknown and unproven director.
The seas off the shore of Martha’s Vineyard, on the other hand, were the final straw for the mechanical shark.
In truth, Spielberg had commissioned three different replicas of the great white, all affectionately dubbed Bruce, but none worked correctly or looked quite realistic. When the team lowered Bruce into the Nantucket Sound, he slid to the bottom almost immediately.
His handlers learned with fear that the shark animatronic had only been tested in freshwater. The seawater corroded the beast’s interior and exterior, seeping into the pneumatic hoses and making Bruce nearly hard to control.
Spielberg was allegedly concerned he would never work in Hollywood again as the budget steadily ballooned. However, the pressure prompted him to hint at the monster’s presence cleverly rather than show it off in full glory. Finally, Spielberg attributed the big white turd, as he derisively referred to Bruce, with the film’s horrific effect, explaining:
The film went from a Japanese matinee horror flick to more of a Hitchcock, the-less-you-see-the-more-you-get thriller.Steven Spielberg
In the same way that his hero Alfred Hitchcock had inspired him, Spielberg overcame adversity to master some of the most impactful filmmaking methods and become one of the industry’s most recognized directors, influencing numerous filmmakers with Jaws. (Source: Screen Rant)