Natalie Haynes: I've seen Jaws 10 times and still I'm terrified

Notebook: I can't imagine Melville or Ibsen are high in Michael Bay's mind when he churns out another Transformers movie

Share
Related Topics

Last Saturday, I did something I have never been able to do before, since I was scarcely alive last time around (and my parents misprioritised, big time): I went to see Jaws at the cinema. In honour of its 37th birthday, a lovely, cleaned-up print of Jaws is showing on the big screen, and it reminded me that there was once a time when a big summer blockbuster didn't need to feature either spaceships, superheroes or magic, fond as I am of all of the above.

Jaws is a blockbuster movie with an art-house sensibility. It has big action sequences, but Carl Gottlieb, its screenwriter, once remarked that he and Spielberg used to refer to it as "Moby Dick meets Enemy of the People". I can't imagine Melville or Ibsen are high in Michael Bay's mind when he churns out another Transformers movie.

The shark in Jaws is the perfect monster: it's clever and ruthless, and because we can't see it, it acquires an air of omnipresence. We know it isn't everywhere, but the trouble is, it could be anywhere. No one is safe. Every one of our instinctive fears is jangling like our nerves, and that's before John Williams's score frays those away, too.

Seeing it on the big screen is a completely different experience from watching it on DVD. For a start, the audience was mainly families with kids, whose parents obviously believed them to be made of stern stuff. But the moment when Richard Dreyfuss is suddenly faced with a disembodied head made them scream like it was a rollercoaster ride. Me, too, obviously, since seeing a film 10 times is no bar to jumping out of my seat on the 11th viewing at the thing I know perfectly well is coming.

But the real high water mark comes from Quint's Captain Ahab-style monologue, as the men compare scars. He tells the tale of his first encounter with sharks, when the USS Indianapolis sank, and her crew was left in the drink for a week. He watched his fellow sailors get picked off, and swore never to wear a lifejacket again. We know his battle against the shark is to the death.

I hope the re-release of Jaws heralds a new wave of old films returning to the big screen: what better way to combat piracy than by letting us watch these movies in their native habitat? It's usually left to art-house cinemas to re-show the great films of bygone days, but sometimes, I want popcorn and drink-holders, not wine and sofas.

When only stern Sue will suffice

The tennis world suffered a terrible shock on Sunday when David Nalbandian crashed out of the final at Queens Club after aiming an ill-tempered kick at an advertising board, which smashed into the official sitting right behind it, cutting his leg open. The crowd understandably booed as Nalbandian was defaulted and the match ended early, but you can't go round making line judges bleed. Even John McEnroe never went so far.

As the drama played out, the whole thing was oddly reassuring. Even though it was a rotten end to the match, the rules are respected, however awkward it makes things for the tournament and the BBC. And when the furious crowd wouldn't stop booing for the players to speak, Sue Barker silenced them with a single, magisterial "Shush!" Come on, Sue.

www.nataliehaynes.com

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Volunteer your expertise as Trustee for The Society of Experimental Biology

Unpaid Voluntary Position : Reach Volunteering: Promising volunteer Trustee op...

Email Designer

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...

Psychology Teacher

£110 - £130 per hour: Randstad Education Reading: Psychology Teacher needed fo...

Food Technology Teacher

£85 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: Randstad Education are curren...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

i Editor's Letter: The rules were simple: before the results are announced, don’t mention the S-word

Oliver Duff Oliver Duff
Howard Jacobson has been shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize for the second time  

In praise of Howard Jacobson

Simon Kelner
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week