This is simply my favorite Speilberg film. Also, it is the closest thing I have seen to a proper film adaptation of Moby Dick. Although condensed each of the main characters is a simulacrum of the key players from Melville’s classic novel: Chief Brody of course is our everyman, Ishmael type; Hopper filling in for both Queequeg and Starbuck first mate; and finally Quint who is my favorite film Ahab of all time.
One interesting tidbit before getting into the film review is that this is one of the first films I have seen where it cuts out a film romance from the book (in this case Hooper’s affair with Brody’s wife). It is one of the reasons why I think this is one of the few films that surpass the original book experience and adds to the overall moral rating of the film.
Growing up in Massachusetts and going to Cape Cod after seeing this film was both fun and a little daunting. I am not one of those after seeing this film that swore a blood oath to never wear a life preserver again or go into the ocean. In fact, it was with this film that I begun my study of sharks and also my tremendous appreciation and awe of the seas and ocean. The last lines of the film always stuck with me more than the gruesome deaths and even Quint’s beautiful, brusque soliloquy on the Indy. These were:
Brody: I used to hate the water.
Hooper: I can't imagine why.
These lines contain the hope and awe that we should have not just for the ocean but for all that is out here in the world. This is not to say that Quint’s view like Ahab’s of the world is not true as well. It is, but it does not encapsulate the whole of God’s creation.
Yes, war is evil; yes, what happened to Herbie Robinson from Cleveland is horrible; yes wading in shark infested waters to be saved is something beyond my keen. However, like the horrors of Auschwitz, the human toil and slavery that went into the Burmese railroad, there is always something good occurring at the time of evil’s nadir. In the future I shall be going into more details of Quint’s world view as well as Ahab’s and Primo Levi’s (Auschwitz survivor and writer) and Ernest Gordon’s (Bridge of the River Kwai survivor). Till then, the thirtieth anniversary is coming up of the release of Jaws and I intend to watch it again as well as the new documentary of the film called, Beyond the Shark.