Ben Gardner's Head is Missing: Notes on 'Jaws the Sharksploitation Edit'

Jackson, Neil (2020) Ben Gardner's Head is Missing: Notes on 'Jaws the Sharksploitation Edit'. In: The Jaws Book. Bloomsbury, New York, London, Oxford, New Delhi, Sydney, pp. 235-250. ISBN 1501373862, 978-1501373862

Full content URL: https://www.bloomsbury.com/uk/the-jaws-book-978150...

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Item Type:Book Section
Item Status:Live Archive

Abstract

'Jaws: The Sharkspoitation Edit' (The Man Behind The Mask, 2009) raises a variety of fascinating questions regarding the integrity of canonised film texts. In particular, it focuses attention upon the ways in which the contemporary ransacking of film history might affect judgments regarding the intersection of ‘official’ and ‘alternative’ film histories. First appearing in the wake of 'Grindhouse' (Robert Rodriguez & Quentin Tarantino, 2007), the film is steeped in an attitude which privileges not only a retro-fitted nostalgia for the new Hollywood renaissance of the 1970s, but also a range of assumptions regarding exploitation film practice in both the past and present.
The film is an unauthorised cut of 'Jaws' (Steven Spielberg, 1975), which serves as the basis for an irreverent, but respectful interpretation of a narrative familiar to audiences around the globe, removing iconic moments, adding footage from other films (including its official 1978 sequel), manipulating the soundtrack (including the insertion of several songs and alternative music sources in place of John Williams venerated score) and even re-inserting sequences discarded by Spielberg at the original editing stage. This results in a parallel version of the film which often alters its characterisations, tone, rhythm and structure, but which alerts the viewer to issues of authorship, control, artistry and quality which might apply to a discussion of mainstream and exploitation film practice alike.
Of course, the film is also the symptom of the digital age, in which fan participation and interaction with particular texts has been enabled in ways unimaginable at the time of Jaws’ original production, and which now extends to the alterations and manipulations of particular narratives which suit a consensus that is led by aficionados rather than critics.
The chapter considers the film as playful homage and critique alike, asking how such creative interventions can enhance and perhaps even illuminate the place of Jaws within broader discourses and debates regarding its varied cultural meanings.

Keywords:Film, Jaws, Spielberg, Fan Edits, New Hollywood, Exploitation Cinema
Subjects:P Mass Communications and Documentation > P300 Media studies
P Mass Communications and Documentation > P303 Film studies
Divisions:College of Arts > Lincoln School of Film & Media > Lincoln School of Film & Media (Film)
ID Code:44343
Deposited On:31 Mar 2021 09:13

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