Jaws: Book vs Film

I’m sure I speak for everyone when I say that Jaws was a damn good movie. I saw it for the first time when I was about ten and I don’t think I took another bath ever again: Literally any body of water that I could submerge myself in was a no-go for fear of shark attack. I was ten…leave me alone. Recently in a little charity store I found the book of Jaws by Peter Benchley, and I have noticed quite some stark differences in them both.

SPOILER ALERT IN PLACE.…if you have not seen Jaws, or wish to read the book, do not read further!

1. The people

In the book, the most appealing character of the whole story is the shark. The people of Amity are seriously xenophobic: Anyone that is not from Amity is simply there for money-making. The whole town relies on the summer tourists visiting the town and the beach so much that everyone there has to struggle through the winter to afford to stay in a relatively expensive seaside town. The houses are all rented out to summer folk, businesses hike up prices, and the main beach is opened to attract everyone even though there’s a man-eating shark around. The town is also pretty corrupt: There is only one journalist who runs the local newspaper, and he is best friends with the chief of police and the Mayor. The Mayor is also funded, it turns out, by some New York mobsters before they invested so much

Even the main characters are pretty nasty people. In the film, the main characters are pretty likeable: Brody is your run-of-the-mill chief of police, keen on public safety and a loving relationship with his happy wife and happy children. In the book, he is blunt, old fashioned and, most of the time, drunk. His wife, Ellen, is bitter, yearning for her younger years of rich friends and socialite lifestyle. Hooper is a cocky and womanising young man, who’s arrogance is almost as high as his IQ. The only character is somewhat endearing in his unlike-ability is Quint, the aged shark hunter, and only because he makes no apologies for who he is: He knows he’s a bit of work, but owns it.

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2. The affair

One of the main things that the film doesn’t cover is the affair between Hooper and Ellen Brody. Having known each other as upper class children, Ellen begins to fantasise about having a fling with Hooper. He is everything that she feels she left behind when she chose to marry Brody and live in Amity: rich lifestyle, fancy dinners, big social events, and a high profile name. Hooper doesn’t say no, but throughout the book Hooper is simply your generic rich-kid: He is used to not being told what to do and so very rarely will do what is needed. He and Ellen, while it only lasts for one night, go about their affair with blatant disregard for Brody. But at the same time, Brody is such a detached husband you almost can’t really blame Ellen for wanting someone more attentive. In the end, the very brief fling makes Ellen realise how lucky she is to have Brody and how much she does love him. Plus…well it’s not like the affair could continue…

3. The deaths

While the film hit most of the key deaths – the opening scene is quite possibly iconic in the horror world – the book has a few extra ‘deaths’ that the film played on slightly. In the book, the only deaths that are really talked about are, obviously, the very first attack on Christine Watkins and then the death of little Alexander Kintner. Every other death is only simply guessed upon: When Ben Gardener fails to communicate with base while he is out on his boat, people assume he has been eaten. The fact that no body is ever found also convinces everyone that he has been eaten by the huge shark. In the film, the floating severed head coming out of the boat sort of confirms that he is absolutely shark-meat, but the book seems to try and high light how paranoid the little town is becoming. Furthermore, even when the main characters die – Hooper is actually bitten in half by the shark when he is in the shark cage, and Quint is dragged under the water and drowned when his foot gets tangled up in a harpoon rope – you don’t really acre that they’ve died. If anything, I was almost proud of the shark for ending the lives of such horrible characters.

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4. The shark itself

The book did a wonderful job of making the shark seem like the innocent victim in the situation. He is just a fish, surprisingly clever for a ‘mindless predator’, who is simply just trying to have some dinner and survive. The attitudes in the book highlight just how old the book really is: Written in 1974 the book plays hugely off of the general scariness of sharks. In modern day, and most likely due to the huge success of the film, more and more people are realising that sharks are not mindless killers, that they have intricate and complicated lives that we are still learning about to this days. The solitary lifestyle is something that the book plays on, making it seem that this fish has picked this little town to terrorise. In reality, sharks very rarely attack people, and of these attacks few are ever fatal. When it comes to sharks it is having respect for the sharks home: Don’t swim near seals, if attacked/if a shark gets to close punch it on the nose, or stay close to shore within sights of a life guard. The book (and to some extent the film) is very old fashioned in its view that sharks are nothing but viscous predators, but to some extent that’s what made this book so enjoyable to read.

Final thoughts?

The book is a great read: Story aside Peter Benchley writes in such a way that you can not put the book down. Even just reading about a dinner party he can create tension so thick that you need to keep reading to find out what horrible thing happens. The book constantly puts the reader on edge and has you reading way into the early hours of the morning because you just can’t tear yourself away from it. The film is also excellent: I don’t think I would have researched sharks as much as I have done over the years if not for this film scaring the absolute pants off me when I was 10. Both do an excellent job of telling the same story, but simply with different end goals in mind: The film wants you to cheer for Amity, while the book wants you to cheer for the shark.

Which version did you guys prefer? Let me know in the comments below and follow me for more comparisons! 

T xx

Top 5 Books of all time

I have always been a keen reader: According to my Mom I threw a huge tantrum after my first day of nursery venues they hadn’t taught me how to read and that’s the only reason I went to school to begin with. Books for me have always been an outlet and a place to lose myself in different worlds and different stories. So I thought today I would share a list of my favourite books with you guys!

1. Black Beauty by Anna Sewell

This book was one of the first books I remember reading by myself. Granted I think at the time it took me about 4 months to finish but I could happily sit down and read it cover to cover in one day if I was left alone. It is just lovely! The book tells the story of a little horse and the life he leads: We join him as soon as he is born on a little farm with his mother, and follow him as he goes from house to house, owner to owner, job to job. Not every owner is nice and not every job is kind to him, but he approaches it in such an innocent way that you can’t help but share his optimism. This book definitely helped shape me as the animal loving vegan I am today, as I finally got to read a book that was from an animal’s perspective rather than as a simple side character. This book is charming, emotive and sincere and for that reason, I will always love this book more than any other.

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2. The curious case of Doctor Jekyll and Mr Hyde by R. L. Stevenson

This book is terrifying. At least, I found it so! However it is not truly scary until the end of the book where we hear Doctor Jekyll’s account of everything that has happened throughout the book. The book itself is told from the perspective of one of Jekyll’s closest friends, a lawyer named Utterson, who notices that his highly moral and just friend has begun to associate with the corrupt and evil Mr Hyde. Having never read this book before this year, I had no idea what the story really was: I understood the general concept of a man having two personalities but this book takes that a step further, in that Jekyll and Hyde are two separate people. I won’t give away any spoilers (at least none that aren’t already common knowledge) but this book was more like a mystery horror than the psychological horror that pop culture would have us believe it is. It is haunting, yet charming, in the way only Stevenson can pull off. It is one of the few books that when I finished, I just say there in shocked silence for a minute or two and tried to comprehend what I had just read. If you are someone who fancies a bit of an existential crisis, then this is definitely the book for you.

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3. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K Rowling

As with every other twenty-something, I love Harry Potter. I was brought up on the books and grew up with the films (I believe I was about 9 or 10 when the first one was released) so Harry Potter will always hold a very special place in my heart. But the third book was by far my favourite: I liked that it focused on the wizarding world before Harry. I liked learning about the Marauders: Mooney, Wormtail, Padfoot and Prongs and the entire friendship as a whole. I believe that this was something that was somewhat glanced over in the film as it helps you believe why (spoiler alert!) Wormtail’s betrayal to join Voldemort all the more heart-breaking for not only Harry, but for the remaining Maurauders as well. It was a welcome change to hear about the wizarding world at a time different to Harry’s world, and I believe this book cemented the importance of friendship on a deeper level than simply ‘Harry, Ron and Hermione = best friends for life’. I won’t go into too much detail about the Harry Potter universe (trust me, I could for days!) but recommend this book, even if you haven’t read the books at all.

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4. Dante’s Divine Comedy

Ok so this is a pretty pretentious entry I know, but stick with me! I was recommended this book by my high school English teacher, Mr Ingles, as he said it was the inspiration for so many modern day classics. So, with a summer free before university started, I decided to give it a read. My word, it is beautiful! I don’t mean that in the sense that the story is beautiful (Not going to lie, I’m still not 100% certain what the entire story really is) but rather that the words, the way they flow and the way they create an image is beautiful. This is essentially a very very VERY long poem telling the story of one man’s journey through Hell, Purgatory and Heaven in order to get to heaven and meet God. I will not go into the imagery and religious meaning of it all, but just as a piece of writing it is honestly the prettiest piece of writing I have read so far. The words are almost effortlessly lovely and when I read this I am instantly calmed and transported on this journey. I won’t lie to you, it is HEAVY reading…like seriously heavy reading with a lot of words and a lot of different styles, but it is worth it just to read a page at a time. I found it to be like Shakespeare, in that if you just let the words flow over you, you can eventually form a picture of what is happening and what it all means. If you are at all interested in English literature or even if you just fancy something pretty to read, I would highly recommend this!

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5. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

As you can tell I am a sucker for the classics, but they are normally referred to as classics for a reason. This story, as I’m sure you are aware, is a pretty tragic one. The book is written from the point of view of Nick Carrow, Gatsby’s accidental neighbour, and describes Gatsby’s (somewhat worrying) obsession with the dim but lovely Daisy Buchanon. I won’t go into details, but if you saw the Leonardo DiCaprio film from 2013 you already know how it goes. This book is an insight into the entire 1920’s era, and probably acts as a bigger warning for the American Dream than Mice and Men ever did. There are moments when you are not sure who is the ‘bad guy’ in the story, as every character has aspects of themselves that we in today’s society would most likely frown upon. It is at times charming and funny, while at others it is harrowing and disturbing. Personally, I love this book and I love Fitzgerald. I especially love this book because I feel that it is always relevant: there will always be someone wanting to obtain the life of others. It is human nature to chase the dream that you have only seen glimpses of from afar, and I believe this books acts as a cautionary tale as to what happens once you have your first invite inside.

Image result for great gatsbyHey if it’s good enough for Leo…

What books hold a special place in your life? Let me know and I will most likely add it to my list of books to read!

T xx