By Buz Wallick
Like man landing on the moon or John F. Kennedy being assassinated, anyone who has seen Jaws remembers the exact time and place and how they felt when they first saw it. I myself remember sitting on a waterbed close to the floor in my mother's small apartment 100 miles away from any beach. From that point onward I was that kid who would run away screaming when a wave would wash onto the shore and then go chasing it back down until another wave crashed in its place, forcing me to run away screaming again.
I was not alone. Jaws did to the oceans what Psycho did to motel showers and what Silent Night Deadly Night 2 did for garbage day. Very few films have had such a phenomenal impact on people's lives. Anyone familiar with Jaws knows that it has gone down in history as not only one of the greatest films ever made, but also possibly the hardest ever to make.
What the filmmakers behind Jaws did not anticipate was that their mechanical star, known as Bruce, would not work on set. However, this factor and Steven Spielberg's spot on direction made Jaws one of the most terrifying and entertaining films ever created. It has spawned merchandise, a theme park ride, video games, rip-offs, a legacy of fans, and inspiration to many filmmakers. It is this impact and legacy that proves The Shark is Still Working.
This is the subject matter of the documentary The Shark is Still Working: The Impact and Legacy of Jaws. First off, let me state that I've read Carl Gottlieb's Jaws Log, own four different editions of the film including the laser disc and VHS versions along with the DVD special editions, and have seen countless making-of documentaries and interviews with the filmmakers about the struggle that was creating Jaws. I even own an original vinyl of the soundtrack. Needless to say I love Jaws and consider myself a relative expert on the subject matter. Going into The Shark is Still Working, I was not expecting to learn anything new. This, however, was not the case.
The documentary goes through not only the tremendous hardships that faced the filmmakers on set but also the humble beginnings of the book, the marketing of the film, its initial release, its inspiration to other filmmakers, and its journey into the pop culture psyche. No other documentary on Jaws has ever come close to covering all the bases that The Shark is Still Working does. It is easily one of the most extensive and enlightening documentaries about a film ever created.