I can’t really explain it, but I have to admit, what is a summer without watching Jaws? Today I watched Jaws as I worked on a few projects around the house.
First of all, I will be honest, the film isn’t really about a shark… or is it? I read the book when I was a teen, before I ever saw the film. Sure, a shark is all over the posters and soundtrack. However, I believe the underlying story is really a morality tail about the dangers an immoral life (something the movie didn’t really focus on) and masculinity in crisis. There is even a smidgen of bashing corrupt authority figures in a post-Watergate paranoid society. Still, Steven Spielberg would say it’s a film a shark.
I would bet that many of my movie buff friends would say that Jaws is the template of contemporary blockbuster films since it’s 1975 release. It raised the bar and set new parameters artistically, demographically, and financially.
Jaws may have changed how film makers look at making a summer blockbuster, but the music, now it made it’s mark too… and in my humble opinion, the music made the movie. Can we all admit that John Williams is a genius!?! Even Steven Spielberg credits the music for “half of the success” of Jaws.
The simple yet absolutely terrifying music led to the first of John Williams 22 Grammy Awards. Now, over 43 years after opening night, William’s iconic score remains an inseparable part of the film’s enduring pop culture legacy. Seriously. When you saw I was writing about Jaws, you immediately thought, “duh-dunt… duh-dunt… duh-dunt, duh-dunt, duh-dunt.” It is as simple as a theme can be; it is primitive; it is driving; it captures the essence of “SHARK!” Two notes. Two notes tap into our deepest primal fears with a repeating musical motif.
Williams had bucked the trend of catchy, pop tunes movie scores created to easily sell soundtracks and that were cheap to produce. Instead, he went back to the golden age of the ’30s and ’40s with his big orchestral approach. His approach justified how effective and powerful music can be with a full orchestra.
The success of Jaws led to other memorable soundtracks from Stars Wars and E.T. to Indiana Jones and Harry Potter. John Williams music has set the tone for what a big blockbuster soundtrack should sound like. No one composes movie music like John Williams.
Thanks to John Williams, it will be Shark Week at my house. Ah… summer!