It's Shark Week, so while many of you are soaking up all the marine action airing on Discovery, I spent this morning watching the latest documentary on the pop culture phenomenon that is Jaws. The Shark is Still Working: The Legacy and Impact of Jaws is a feature-length documentary that was included on the 2012 Blu-Ray release of my favorite picture. I hadn't taken the time to view this collection of never-before-seen footage and interviews with the cast and crew, partly because I've seen so many of these things. Heck, I've even read numerous accounts of the film's production, release, and most importantly, the impact the movie has had on the industry at large and the legions of fans who still adore it. I found this documentary to be the best of the lot, and I was amazed at just how moving this making-of feature was.
Now, I could go on and on about the movie, and anyone who knows me well has probably heard me do so on multiple occasions. Yet I'm going to direct my attention to The Shark is Still Working, which was a truly emotional experience for me. Obviously, anyone who loves the film is going to grow wistful when thinking about the key figures involved who are no longer with us, namely Peter Benchley, Robert Shaw, and Roy Scheider, but there was so much more to this documentary. I don't know if I can adequately describe how much impact hearing about the ultimate fate of the Orca had on me. Seeing how Martha's Vineyard has been shaped by the movie and witnessing how the making of the film is still celebrated there was also profoundly touching. There are many great movies, just as there are many great books, yet the scope of this particular piece of art's legacy transcends both mediums. It's a global experience, and the legions of devotees who still cherish Jaws give it a revered spot in our society than cannot be understated.
The documentary was riveting, capturing Peter Benchley's efforts to write the story, the studio's efforts to turn the property into a motion picture, the making of the film, and the unbelievable reception that followed. To this day, many people still harbor potent feelings on both sharks and the ocean based on Jaws. To this day, our interest in sharks and the popularity of such material still serves to enrich the storied history of one of our most beloved tales. The Shark is Still Working does a fantastic job of exploring how the story came to be and probes the fascination and wonder Jaws has spawned for several generations of people--not just Americans, but people all over the world. It was a magical ride, and I can honestly say that few stories have struck such a chord with me. Surely, I've never been so moved by a documentary about the making of a film, and that's both a credit to everyone involved with this feature and the film and book that launched the phenomenon.
If you are a fan of Jaws, (and seriously, who isn't?) you owe it to yourself to sit down and spend a little time with The Shark is Still Working. I thought it was positively mesmerizing, and it only served to reinforce my love for a story that is proving to be timeless.