Our Thoughts On Jaws In Concert…
Recently we went down to the the brand new screening of the bonafide thriller classic, Jaws, which was screened along with a live performance of it’s legendary soundtrack by the Czech National Symphony Orchestra. Here are our thoughts:
Tickets go on sale on Friday the 27th of October, buy yours here:
John Williams’ score for Jaws has a curious history. It was written at a time when Hollywood had turned its back on orchestras and director Steven Spielberg initially disliked it, fearing it was too simple. Issues with the verisimilitude of the mechanical shark, however, meant it was largely absent from the first half of the film, with the music forced into having to do most of the heavy lifting, implying the looming presence of a monster the audience had not yet seen.
It is now so entwined with the film that you cannot imagine one without the other. Indeed, Spielberg was to admit that “half of the success” of Jaws is down to the music.
Its power lies in its musical minimalism – the iconic part being a two-note ostinato (a repeated sonic phrase) that creates tension as its volume and speed build. Musicologists note how heavy use of an ostinato can start to hypnotise – in this case pinning the audience to their seat in fear. Along with the screeching violin used in the shower scene in Psycho, this is film music at its most psychologically powerful and unnerving.
To experience this music performed live by an Orchestra as the film plays is to hear it through new ears. The nimbleness of touch as the film opens, but before the horror unfolds, is there to lull you into a false sense of security. There are often long periods of musical silence, yet when the music creeps in, the audience is physically jolted out of their comfort zone. Each note becomes fuller, rounder and more unsettling.
Familiar scenes and musical motifs are greeted with audience cheers – almost as if they were pop stars – and their self-aware laughter is a collective but futile attempt to ward off the imminent terror.
The tension and the power of the film are lifted to a whole new level with the addition of a live score. Everything feels bigger and more disquieting; everything hits harder and lingers longer.
The music of Jaws is now a common audio language and a shared cultural memory; but the addition of a full orchestra means it will chill and thrill anew.