BFI Classics: Jaws

Author: Antonia Quirke

In between the introduction and the credits of this book the author has divided it into two main sections: The Land and The Sea. The book as a whole follows the format of the BFI Classics series and the author takes you through the narrative of the film, and finding much subtext with which to wax lyrical (not merely retelling a story you probably already know).

The Land covers the film obviously up to the point where our three main leads decide to go out and fetch the fish they are after. The Sea naturally details that part of the film. The Land section opens with a marvellous Shakespeare quote from two fishermen pondering how fish live in the sea.

Quirke then does perhaps lay down the narrative of the story a little too thickly to begin with, but the comments made as you read the story are both relevant and well placed. And like the film, it is important to set up what is to come with as much time and space as you can afford.  Once Quirke is into the meat of this the text goes into perhaps what the shark may be thinking (in picking its victims), the book, Spielberg’s sense of humour that plays with the audience (when is it safe to laugh) and even contemporary art.

If anything the detail becomes so rich that it is almost bursting out of the pages – clearly this format is restraining a longer original text. But for Jaws fans it will be a decent addition – and yes it does have the Indianapolis speech in its entirety here!

Steven Hurst

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