Here at Film ‘89 we like to think that we’re a pretty amiable bunch who get along but occasionally even we disagree when it comes to our opinions about certain films. For instance, some of us think that Star Wars: The Last Jedi is a good film and one of us even argues that M. Night Shayamalan’s Signs is Independence Day for adults. There is one film however where the debates stop and we all find ourselves in agreement that Steven Spielberg’s Jaws is without a doubt a masterpiece of cinematic joy that could never be improved upon.
However, one of the movie’s stars begs to differ. Richard Dreyfuss spoke recently with Deadline and when asked if he thought that the movie could be improved with a re-release featuring a CGI shark, his answer may come as a surprise to the majority of movie purists. The actor who played Marine Biologist Matt Hooper in the 1975 film had this to say;
“I think they should do it, it would be huge and it would open up the film to younger people. Is that blasphemy? No, no, I don’t think so. The technology now could make the shark look as good as the rest of the movie. There are people who say Jaws is a perfect film otherwise and it is amazing what Steven accomplished with the challenges he had. But you’re dead-right, I think you’re on to something. They should put the money in to CGI [to replace] that beast and make it come alive.”
Whilst the introduction of a CGI creature may perhaps make the movie more enjoyable to a younger audience, the inclusion of such a thing would in our opinion, be a big mistake. The now legendary story of how the robotic shark (affectionately named Bruce by the film crew) constantly malfunctioned and whose failings played a significant role in the course of development of the film, with the then young, ambitious director having to think on his feet and shoot around the problem, is the stuff of cinema legend, which in turn lead to a level of tension being built up around what the audience didn’t see. Whether it was intentional or not, the audience was drawn into the film in anticipation of what was below the water’s surface and to introduce a modern day take on this with enhanced visual effects would surely detract from the viewers experience and perhaps sadly reduce the film’s level of tension to that of a standard monster movie and if there’s one thing that Jaws isn’t, its standard.
Maybe Dreyfuss was just referring to the final scenes where the Shark is seen in a much more prominent fashion. However, does anyone really think that this would improve the film? If the original Star Wars trilogy’s later CG “improvements” showed us anything, it’s that just because you can do something, it doesn’t mean you should. A film as iconic as Jaws should remain untouched and hopefully that’s the way it will stay.