The Jaws Log: Expanded Edition (1975/2005) – Carl Gottlieb

Anyone who has even visited the blog knows what my favourite movie is. I mean, it’s right there in the banner.

Jaws has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember, I have very few memories that would have occurred before I saw it, I mean I was three going on four so gimme a break.

I’ve watched the documentaries, I’ve seen the film projected countless times, but I had never read The Jaws Log, so when I stumbled across it at a local bookstore – Mine!

Penned by Carl Gottlieb who helped Spielberg on the screenplay, but also had a small role in the film, the book when originally released gave a look at the making of the film, pulling back the curtain to get a glimpse at how the blockbuster movie came to be.

In 2005, it was updated with new end notes, as well as a photo spread of behind the scene pictures.

Even with the addition of the pictures, this one is a very short read, and while it gives a glossed over look at the production, and documented a number of the films ongoing struggles, it never got quite as indepth as I wanted it to be.

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That’s not to say I didn’t like it. I read this book, delighting in the firsthand knowledge that was provided about filmmaking in the 1970s, as well as nice little reveals about everything that went into the film. I’m sure a lot of it is still pretty relevant in terms of actual craftmanship. But I wanted a bit more, the book is way too short, considering that the movie was over-budget, over-schedule, and was the first real blockbuster.

Throughout the book Gottlieb cautions the reader that you’ll learn things that may ruin your appreciation of the film, once you discover how something was done. That has never been true for me, I love knowing how it was done, the effort, the work and the creativity that brought it to the screen. I love peeking behind the curtain and understanding the magic.

It amazes me all the more.

Gottlieb’s still of writing is fun, and informal. I could imagine sitting and having a chat with him as he regaled me with stories about being on Martha’s Vineyard, grousing over the fact that they were waiting for another setup because Bruce the shark wasn’t working, or quick asides about the film’s cast Roy Scheider, Richard Dreyfuss and Robert Shaw.

And most of all, I delight in reading about Steven Spielberg and try to understand how, at twenty-six, he made a film that has become a personal touchstone, and cinematic comfort food for me.

In the end, it does what any good making of book makes me want to do… watch the subject matter again.

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