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The Making of Steven Spielberg's 'Jaws' (1995)

Excellent and very detailed documentary on the making of a classic. Filled with appealing trivia, exhaustive interviews with cast and crew members, and never before seen footage.

Director:

Laurent Bouzereau
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Steven Spielberg ... Himself
Peter Benchley ... Himself
David Brown ... Himself
Richard D. Zanuck ... Himself
Carl Gottlieb ... Himself
Ron Taylor Ron Taylor ... Himself
Valerie Taylor Valerie Taylor ... Herself
Roy Scheider ... Himself
Richard Dreyfuss ... Himself
Lorraine Gary ... Herself
Sid Sheinberg ... Himself
Susan Backlinie ... Herself
Ted Grossman Ted Grossman ... Himself
Joe Alves Joe Alves ... Himself
Robert A. Mattey Robert A. Mattey ... Himself (archive footage) (as Bob Mattey)
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Storyline

Excellent and very detailed documentary on the making of a classic. Filled with appealing trivia, exhaustive interviews with cast and crew members, and never before seen footage. Written by Marco Rambaldi <rambaldi@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Documentary

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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

28 November 1995 (USA) See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Universal Home Video See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (25th Anniversary Edition)

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

An edited-down version of this making-of (cut down by approx. 55 minutes) is featured on the Jaws (1975) DVD released in 2000. See more »

Alternate Versions

The version that was on the first "Jaws" DVD (released in 2000) was shortened as follows:
  • A brief discussion of shooting the underwater opening POV shots, only to discover that the filmmakers had in fact 20 minutes of very visible "beaver" shots of actress Susan Backlinie that had to be darkened to hide the naughty bits.
  • Spielberg's explanation of two scenes exclusive to the draft of the script that he wrote himself, neither of which made it to the screen: The first is a different introduction to the Quint with the grizzled fisherman watching Moby Dick at the local theater and laughing out loud at the absurdity of it all. One of the reasons that it never made it to film was Gregory Peck's refusal to let the filmmaker use the footage because he wasn't that proud of it. The other abandoned scene was to have the harbor master watching Don't Go Near the Water while in window behind him, we would see the masts of lined up boats begin to wave back and forth one after another to indicate that the shark was swimming directly underneath them. This scene, when it was deemed too difficult to shoot technically, was replaced by the "roast on a hook" scene that does appear in the film.
  • There are wonderful stories about the late Robert Shaw and his seriously competitive, but ultimately professional, nature that are missing in the new version. A story is told of a day when Shaw was extremely ill on the set and barely had enough energy to get out the line, "Hooper you idiot, ain't you watchin' where you're going?" and pretty much collapsing as soon as Spielberg yelled cut. Richard Dreyfuss also talks at length of his competitive nature and how they didn't always get along on set...
  • The "Discovery of Chrissie" scene and the hand that is shown is a topic of discussion with the film's effects crew creating what would have been appropriate looking from a realistic standpoint but an effect that Spielberg just thought looked fake. He opted to simply shoot someone's real hand sticking out of the ground because it looked better to him. Not more accurate, just better. At one point, Spielberg headed to the producer's office to quit as director. Knowing that the director was about to give up the ship, producers David Brown and Richard Zanuck quickly threw on JAWS T-shirts before his arrival and abruptly interrupted him when he entered with praise of how great a job Spielberg was doing on the film.
  • Spielberg talks about the test screenings that were held and goes into more detail about reshooting the Ben Gardner head in the boat scene. He discloses various ways that the shot was altered and the deciding factor in the used shot. After telling how that first scream with the new shot was now louder than the scream they got in the first test screening when the shark first appears out of the water, that shark appearance only received half the scream that they got at their first screening. Spielberg reasons that the audience didn't trust him after the first jolt and were ready for something to happen when the second scream came around.
  • The end of the film differed from the book with the shark simply getting caught up in cables and drowning. Spielberg changed the ending to get the audience on its feet cheering. Author Peter Benchley disagreed with the decision though and told the director that it was a preposterous end that simply wouldn't happen. Missing here is a short admission by the author that Spielberg was absolutely correct in his decision to change the ending.
  • An entire section on the rating of JAWS is missing that involves the film's original R rating. The producers argued that the violence was nature and that impressionable children were not going to run out after the movie and imitate the behavior of the shark. A few frames of the severed leg did have to be removed though in order to secure the PG rating that the film eventually got. (The "30th Anniversary Edition" DVD, released in 2005, in the documentary's uncut version.)
See more »

Connections

References The French Connection (1971) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Finally a making of documentary that deserves to be seen with the movie that it's based on!
13 January 2005 | by Anonymous_MaxineSee all my reviews

The thing that I loved about The Making of Jaws was not the fact that the Special Edition DVD featured a shorter version of the documentary than the Special Edition VHS (both of which I own because I'm just a geek like that) but the fact that it covers every aspect of production from Peter Benchley's original conception of the story of Jaws all the way to the public reception of the completed film at the test viewings. Even the interviews are edited together smoothly, which is something that these making-of documentaries are notoriously bad at. It also goes into great detail about a wide variety of different topics, bringing back a surprising number of the original cast members. Even the girl who got eaten at the beginning of the film shows up here for an interview.

I tend to find it tiring when these supplemental features on DVDs spend a lot of time playing clips of the movie that you just finished watching, so it was nice that this documentary showed so much behind the scenes footage and outtakes, as well as explanations for why certain scenes were not put into the movie. Steven Spielberg gives some great insights into his methods of directing, and everyone has some great stories to tell about the problems that were encountered during production, particularly with the shark hardly ever working.

There's a part in this documentary where Spielberg talks about a time when he was genuinely concerned that the studio was going to send someone in to take over the project because he was taking so long during production, which really gives a lot of insight into how difficult film-making can be sometimes. Oh and you get to hear him cuss, too. I'd never seen that before. One of the most popular things that this movie spawned was not only the endless repetition of phrases like "Don't go in the water" and "You're going to need a bigger boat" is a tendency for people to make fun of the movie because the shark looked fake. But when you watch this documentary and see how much work went into making the shark look as real or fake as it did, it really makes you appreciate the movie more. Save your criticisms for the horrendous sequels.

One of the other things that I really liked about this documentary was that it showed footage of some of Steven Spielberg's home movies, evidently shot with a home video camera on the sets during production. It was pretty interesting to see footage that he shot that looks like it could have been shot by anyone. Strange to see that one of the greatest filmmakers alive shoots video just like anyone else. A few days ago I watched a supplemental documentary for The Day the Earth Stood Still called Making the Earth Stand Still and I was disappointed not only that it had nothing to do with making the Earth stand still but that it was such a poorly made documentary to accompany one of the best science fiction films ever made, so it was nice to see that the re-release of Jaws was fitted with a fitting documentary.


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