Jaws 2: Revolutionary for Sequels

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 crew’s work cut out for them.

Chief Brody is now a disillusioned, paranoid man

Chief Brody is now a disillusioned, paranoid man

Chasing demons from the past in a darkroom

Chasing demons from the past in a darkroom

In 1975, director Steven Spielberg’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 Serling’s TV horror show, Night Gallery. Upon winning the director’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 film’s events; continuing arc. (you’ll see this later in Aliens, T2, etc)

2. Introduce new conflicts for the characters to face (nobody believes Roy Scheider’s character’s suspicions of a shark).

3. Nostalgia for the previous film must be established giving the character’s history.

4. The story structure and certain elements of the first film must remain in order to keep the audience’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…

Those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it

"Those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it"

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  1. For its time, Jaws 2 was a worthy sequel. I was 13 at the time of its release and found it to be well worth the $5 I spent to see it. In fact, I saw it twice. The only fault I found with the film – and still do to this day – is that the shark looks much more fake than the original ‘Bruce.’ Despite technology advancing three years from the original film, the Jaws 2 shark looked dreadful; you could even see the tubes and hydraulics when its mouth opened.

    Szwarc went for more action than blood. Spielberg might have been more graphic had he directed Jaws 2. Screenwriter Carl Gottlieb injected enough story, action, drama, and humor to give the film a pace reminescent of the first Jaws. In other words, it is not a bore to watch nor does the film have moments of drag.

    The Jaws franchise should have ended with ‘2.’ The only thing left to do – which is a horrid insult to the original – is simply to remake Jaws for a new generation. But, I see nothing but doom if such a project was ever pursued.

  2. Jeannot Szwarc did an admirable job with Jaws 2, but he his most obvious mistake was that he showed the shark too much. It’s a burnt piece of rubber. Why show it?

    Overall, I like Jaws 2, for many of the reasons stated here(music, cinematography, the return to Amity, Roy Scheider’s excellent performance), but the story just doesn’t aim as high as in Jaws. More focus on Brody’s paranoia, his adult concerns and conflicts, would have provided a better subject than all the attention on the teenagers.

  3. jaws rules man!!!!!!!!

  4. The reason a new remake would never work is because we all now know everything there is to know about sharks…there’s even a whole channel dedicated to them…Sharkweek…and who didn’t want to be Hooper?
    Going into that theater in 1975, I didn’t have a clue about sharks or that such an animal existed…the fear of the unknown is a lot of what drove the terror of the movie.

    The cat’s out of the bag, you can never use that angle again…

    That said, I would like to see a remaster where they could perhaps redo all the “Bruce” shots with a lifelike looking Great White…that would be pretty cool.

    No sequel to Jaws will ever work….but I am willing to be proved wrong

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