Spielberg talks about guilt over damaged film Jaws may have made sharks | Jaws

All it takes to evoke an immediate sense of danger in anyone watching Jaws are two notes, a semitone apart, ingeniously deployed to indicate the imminent threat of a great white shark.

But now, nearly half a century later, director Steven Spielberg has admitted that perhaps the Oscar-winning 1975 thriller was too effective at instilling fear of the defamed creatures, admitting that he “truly regrets” any influence he had on the world’s fastest. shrinking shark population.

Since the early 1970s, the world’s population of oceanic sharks and rays has fallen by 71% as a result of overfishing, a global study published in Nature found last year.

“I really regret to this day that the shark population has been reduced because of the book and the movie. I really regret it,” says the American director Desert Island recordswhich will be broadcast on BBC Radio 4 on Sunday.

Asked by host Lauren Laverne how he would feel about being surrounded by sharks if he was sent to the show’s imaginary desert island, the 75-year-old said: “That’s one of the things I still fear. Not to be eaten by a shark, but that somehow sharks are mad at me for the feeding frenzy of crazy anglers that happened after 1975.”

According to the IUCN Global Red List of Threatened Species, more than a third of all shark species are threatened with extinction, while three-quarters of marine shark species face the threat.

But Paul Cox, chief executive of the Shark Trust in Plymouth, said that although shark populations had shrunk dramatically since the film’s release, to blame Jaws is “giving the film way too much credit”.

Most people, he believes, are able to distinguish between life and cinema.

“The cases of shark declines are very clearly overfishing by fisheries,” he said.

Spielberg’s film is not the main reason for the decline in shark populations, but has influenced popular perception of the creatures, experts say. Photo: Gregorio Borgia/AP

While the demand for shark fins has shrunk in recent years, the demand for shark meat is on the rise.

Where Jaws may have had an impact, but is in confusing the messages around sharks, Cox said: “It has led conversations into a bit of a trap by spending too much time talking about all the things that sharks are not instead of all that great things sharks are.”

However, he is grateful for the positive PR that Spielberg’s comments bring. “For someone with his celebrity to take on the challenge of communicating about sharks in a more positive way is very welcome.”

The film exploits a pre-existing fear, he said. “We have a natural fear of the unknown. The ocean, the marine environment, still has a lot of unknowns.”

Christopher Paul Jones, a Harley Street phobia specialist, is convinced of the film’s power. Most of the people he meets with galeophobia, or fear of sharks, go back to films such as Jaws because most people have never seen a shark except in an aquarium.

“It’s a testament to the way it was done. You can’t see underwater and the music creates a sense of fear,” he said. “Movies are very good at hitting all the senses – visual, sound, and can have a big impact on how we feel.”

He said that films such as Jaws is often “the seed of the feeling”. “People will come to me – it might not be a fear of sharks, but a fear of swimming or water. When you look at how it started, it might be Jaws.”

In another Desert Island records confession, Spielberg said that filmmakers should not “manipulate” audiences by playing on their emotions, but admitted that he had been guilty of it in Jaws. “A filmmaker must never manipulate the audience unless every single scene has a jack-in-the-box kind of horror. That’s manipulation,” he said. “I did it a couple of times.” Poltergeist and I certainly did once Jaws, where the head comes out of the hole. It’s okay, I admit it.”

A great white near the surface of the sea, photographed from below
A great white shark. The number of sea sharks and rays has fallen by 71% since the 1970s. Photo: Image source/Getty Images

Among his desert island records was Bach’s “Little” Fugue in G minor, which his father used to whistle when he came home from work; Jackie DeShannon’s What the World Needs Now is Love, which he said makes him “want to hug a Republican”; and a song by his daughter, Sasha, whose stage name is Buzzy Lee. The song, Coolhand, reminds him of “the privilege of parenthood,” he said. His luxury item would be a vintage Bolex H-8 film camera.

He talked about childhood memories – including making a three-minute western for a Boy Scout badge, his mother dancing around the house and his 15-year estrangement from his father after his parents’ divorce.

Spielberg, whose many other films include the blockbusters ET, Indiana Jonesand Jurassic Parkfeared that his latest project, a semi-autobiographical film called The Fabelman familywould be the “most indulgent thing I’ve ever asked people to walk me through”.

Describing the project, starring Paul Dano and Michelle Williams, as “$40 million in therapy,” he said: “I didn’t really know what I was doing, other than responding to a need that I had — being an orphan or recently orphaned by losing both parents, to recapture some of those memories in a way that wouldn’t seem too indulgent to actors I really respected. So it was a tightrope for a while.”

But the film has already received widespread critical acclaim and nominations for the Golden Globes and Critics Choice awards.

He said he didn’t mind being seen as sentimental and nostalgic, adding: “I think it’s nostalgia even more than sentimentality, but I never ponder when I hear it at all unless someone says that ruined the movie for them … I don’t like that.”

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