Variation has always been the source of much debate during this much scrutinized era of sequels. Before Jaws 2, sequels were primarily made for two reasons: to continue the storyline that was not initially concluded in the first film (Planet Of The Apes, The Godfather), or in the design of the episodic serial (Frankenstein, Dirty Harry, James Bond). Universal decided to do something that seemed improbable– make a sequel where most have failed (French Connection II & Exorcist II). This leaves a crewâ€™s work cut out for them.
In 1975, director Steven Spielbergâ€™s Jaws became the most successful picture of all time. The success of the film created a phenomenon that Universal felt somehow had to be continued. Enter Jaws 2, a film that proved more things than the general public knows today or when it was released in 1978. Only this time, no Spielberg and no Dreyfuss, for both were working on Close Encounters Of The Third Kind. So who was going to take over? What was going to make this film special in its own way? French director Jeannot Szwarc was brought on board by production designer Joe Alves who worked with him and Spielberg on Rod Serlingâ€™s TV horror show, Night Gallery. Upon winning the directorâ€™s chair, Szwarc decided upon a very meticulous and crucial design on how to make this film and what it exactly needed to be.
1. The main character must be emotionally enhanced, more matured, learning from previous filmâ€™s events; continuing arc. (youâ€™ll see this later in Aliens, T2, etc)
2. Introduce new conflicts for the characters to face (nobody believes Roy Scheiderâ€™s characterâ€™s suspicions of a shark).
3. Nostalgia for the previous film must be established giving the characterâ€™s history.
4. The story structure and certain elements of the first film must remain in order to keep the audienceâ€™s familiarity of why they loved the first film (shark POVS, action elements)
5. Different cinematography or visual look (shooting behind the shark fin, different lighting).
6. Different editing style gives the film a different pace and/or energy.
7. Introduce elements that were not included in the first film or create different situations for the characters (shark is shown a lot to prevent duplicating the first film).
8. Bring back the characters that the audience fell in love with in the first film as long as it respects continuity.
9. Bring back the same musical themes from the original film (John Williams returns to enhance his Academy-award winning themes with new compositions.)
10. Enhance and extend the themes from the original film to bring new life and feelings for the film (Szwarc introduced sophisticated visuals giving an art history appreciation).
A glaring paradox can be noticed. For it all to work, such a film requires to be somewhat similar to its original source of inspiration and yet be different enough to reveal new storytelling possibilities and interpretations. Not easy…
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