What can I say about Jaws that hasn’t been said since the film was released over 40 years ago? I can’t really tell you that much, but I can tell you that up until 2012, I had seen the film once. Once. How could a classic like Jaws go basically unseen, by me, for many years?
Because, my dear readers, of a term that I call “have seen”. The meaning behind this term is something that I have looked for for a very long time. When I was growing up in the 80’s, my mom and dad would tell me about a film or I would see the film in the video store. I rent it and watch it. If the film was something that was special then I would rent it over and over again. If it was something that I didn’t care for, I would put into the back of my mind, never to think of it again.
Since the advent of the internet, this is impossible. We see documentaries, crappy YouTube videos counting down the supposed “ten worst movies of all time” without even looking at movies before the year that they were born. (This is something that Watch Mojo does and I hate them for it.) We can not step away from a film without the threat of that film being spoiled for us. But sometimes there will be a documentary that you really want to see. The subject matter has been something that you have been thinking about for a long time. Or you just want to see it because it captured your curiosity. You watch the documentary and they start to talk about a film that you have not seen before. You know of the film. You want to see the film. You think “they are just going to talk about the film in context to the subject matter of the documentary that I am watching. No worries.”
And then BAM!. They ruin the entire film for you. If you are a casual film watcher, then you think “They ruined the entire film for me. No reason to see it now. I HAVE SEEN IT.” Because a documentary that was trying to teach you about something ruined a film for you, you take drastic measures and become very bitter. You blame the film, not the documentary, for the film being ruined. You won’t watch the film because reasons. These reasons are in your mind. Someone asks you if you want to come over and watch that film that was just ruined for you. You say “No. I HAVE SEEN IT.” You won’t go into the details about the documentary that ruined the film because you don’t blame the documentary. Jaws was that film for me.
I will set the scene for you. I was watching a documentary series about the 70’s. Up to the time that they spoiled Jaws, they were going through things at a quick pace. They would spend an hour on the Vietnam War and then spend two minutes on The Godfather. In fact, I had not seen The Godfather when I watch this doc so I guess I was spared from having that film ruined too. They started to talk about Jaws and everything was going good. I was getting some info that I hadn’t before but it was still in the parameters of “safe for those who haven’t seen the film.” They talked about how the mechanical shark didn’t work and that is why we don’t see the shark that much. Everything is a-ok. Then they talk about Robert Shaw. They talk about how great of an actor he was. How he nailed the Indianapolis monologue and… how he died in the film.
I was crushed. How are you going to not spoil The Godfather which has an equal amount of spoilage that Jaws has? I put my head down in shame. I thought “I can’t see this film now.” Then I thought “They spoiled one thing. I can still watch it” Then, as soon as that thought had left my mind, they start talking about how they killed the shark and the sequels. MOTHERFUCKER!!!! I was pissed off. Not only did you ruin the fucking death of Shaw, but now you are telling me everything. FUCK YOU!!
I was a broken man that day. I never finished the documentary or even remember what it was called because I was so mad at it. My mother asked me one day if I wanted to rent Jaws. I got kind of mad and told her no. I would never see that film.
Over the next decade or so, I read up on Jaws. I watched the documentaries that were shown on AMC, before it became the home of The Walking Dead, and were included on the dvd. I knew everything there was to know about Jaws, but I had never sat down and watched the film. I HAVE SEEN IT.
In 2012 Universal, for their one hundredth anniversary (that really wasn’t the hundredth that would come in 2015, but for some reason they liked 2012 better. Maybe they thought the world was going to end and didn’t want to be known as the studio that made it to 97 years.), they released a huge amount of films on blu-ray. They remastered a bunch of them, including Jaws. I bought the blu-ray and decided that this would be when I watched the film for the first time. It would come off of the “Have Seen” list.
I loved the film. Everything about this film is perfect. (Except for a shot during the fake shark scene. There is a mother doing, quite possibly, the worst acting I have ever seen from an extra. She is terrible. Takes me right out of the film) The screenplay is well written and smart. The direction is unstated and not flashy. The acting is amazing. Robert Shaw destroys the Indianapolis monologue. There is not a dull moment in the film. We know every character by the end. The last scene is intense. I love Jaws. I am glad that I watched it.
So, in this world of people who want to watch the world burn, don’t let them ruin things for you. Don’t have a “HAVE SEEN” list. Don’t let the Watch Mojos or vloggers ruin films for you. And if they have, tell them to go fuck themselves, and watch the film anyway. They won’t win and you may find a film that you fall in love with. Like infomercials say “If it can happen to me, it can happen to you.”