Jaws in 3D: an in-depth look that strikes its shark | Cinema/Television






The safe assumption – the one that has predominated in various reflections on this whole enterprise – is that for a 3D conversion of Jaws, the movie that redefined the movie industry worldwide, to make it into theaters would have to have Steven Spielberg sign off on it. Plus, there’s the fact that there are so many plans in Jaws which already use foreground/background contrast and frame depth you can’t help but stumble over the possibilities.

When they first announced this conversion, I immediately thought of the tracking shot and zoom out that accompanies Chief Brody’s realization of what happened with young Alex Kintner. I thought of Matt Hooper’s discovery of what’s hidden in the half-sunk remains of Ben Gardner’s boat. I thought of Quint’s first appearance, gradually unveiled in this tracking shot that meanders through the community gathering. I thought of the many ominous planes of dark water stretching to the horizon.

So it’s a relief that the 3D version of Jaws is such a satisfying experience. It’s not going to overshadow anyone’s lasting memories of the traditional version, but it’s a remarkable exercise in finding new angles on a classic that, at this point, is already part of our cultural DNA. The best comparison I can come up with is that this version of Jaws is like an ideological cousin to Gus Van Sant’s 1998 remake psychology, but the problem is that people love to hate this movie, rather than engage with it as an act of critical theory. It doesn’t matter — interpretation is not a dictatorship. But if you enter psychology ’98 expecting classic entertainment rather than rigorous exercise, you’ll be a bit disappointed. Jaws in 3-D doesn’t have this problem, because despite the academic revelry and stereoscopic theory at play, it’s still Jaws – one of the best-constructed storylines of the modern era that’s accomplished enough as a thrill machine that you can often miss just how gloriously weird it is.

There are things that 3-D does, things that sculpt physical space, that are simply impossible to do without excessive, thematic storytelling. Allow me to be a little stubborn for a moment. In a two-dimensional image, you can display characters next to each other. But in a three-dimensional image, you can show characters between them, an interaction that takes more effort to put into words than simple prepositional phrases. A two-dimensional image is text. A three-dimensional image allows for visual subtext, which is a whole new set of possibilities. The cabin of the killer whale is a small, cramped space, which our central triumvirate can only fit into by drinking, and in 3-D it also becomes a psychologically compelling place.







Jaws three guys

Can you recommend a vibration-only 3D experience? Mostly abandoned in the US, except as an extension by some major franchises for the first week of shows, 3D is kept alive through 4DX technology (sometimes) and residual experimentation in form ( like the remake of dawn of the dead, finally getting something close to a decent release the weekend before Halloween). Corporate greed and indifferent conversions have done their best to kill it completely, and I’m sure there’s an inordinate amount of “Who Cares?” ilk. As someone still looking for a 3D-capable home system, I think there’s still a spark in the medium, especially when there’s so much movie text to explore.

Why Jaws? What made someone decide to expand this particular film? I have no idea. But there’s no better course of action for tech-heads, moviegoers, stoners, grad students, Hoopersexuals and sharks in theaters this week. Accept the mystery and observe this remarkable effort while you can.

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