Day 12) L is for List: Choose a book from your to-read List
Moby-Dick by Herman Melville
So reading lists. It feels like they will never end.
And every time I read a book, it feels as if I add ten more.
To help keep track of that, I have a Goodreads account and I try and work through it. But then I have another problem:
Yes, so even though I have too many books that I own and haven’t read; and too many on my to-read list, I keep getting more.
My shelves are stuffed:
And I have boxes full of them everywhere:
So I tried to figure out what book to review, and settled on Moby-Dick.
Moby-Dick or The Whale was published by Herman Melville in 1851. At the time it wasn’t received, and by the time of his death the book was out of print and hadn’t generated that much money.
However, readers are fickle and in the 20th century, the book became so popular it was given the title of one of the Great American Novels. William Faulkner was known to have wished he was the one who wrote it and D. H. Lawrence called it “one of the strangest and most wonderful books in the world”, and “the greatest book of the sea ever written.”
I had started The Great Illustrated Classic versionwhen I was much younger, but never finished the book. I had to return it to the library and I’m not sure why I didn’t recheck it out, but I never read, or finished reading it, ever again.
This book has been on my to-read list since I’ve joined Goodreads, and my friend even gave it to me for my sixteenth birthday, but I had still not read it. Leaving it buried under all the other to-read books.
But this year I decided to read it!
So what did I think after all this time?
I didn’t like it.
I know, I feel horrible for even uttering those words…
But it is the truth.
It’s how I feel.
So let’s go over what the story is about, and then I will share why I didn’t like it.
Ishmael signs up to a whaling ship, having to share his room with a Polynesian harpooner, Queequeg. At first Ishmael is afraid of him, but the two end up becoming extremely good friends.
The ship they go on is the Pequod, which is led by Captain Ahab. Now Captain Ahab has lost his leg to a mighty white whale, Moby-Dick, and he is incensed with revenge, planning on finding him and killing him on their journeys.
The ship sails, and while the crew hunt for the whales to bring back their blubber; Ishmael shares his philosophies of whaling, his idea of the British, the different whales they meet, etc. The novel ends in a bitter battle as Ahab finds his prey; but will he be able to destroy it or just himself?
So Why Didn’t I Like It?
The biggest problem for me is that this novel is a little bit of everything and moves from topic to topic instead of being one concise story. I mean Ishmael’s thoughts seem to wander everywhere as he will switch from the adventure on the whale ship to his thoughts of religion, how the color white is evil, that the British snootily look down on the Americans but need them, etc. This random philosophizing I could definitely do without, especially as there is no segway but a real rattling on.
I mean I really enjoyed the adventures in whaling and anything with Captain Ahab, I thought he was a great character, but sadly there wasn’t more of him.
What also struck me was how hard Melville was trying to make a “great American novel.” We know people from England looked down at America at this time, and you can see how hard Melville is trying to prove that American writers are just on par as the British.
“But where this superioty in the English whalemen does really consist, it would be hard to say, seeing that the Yankees in one day, collectively, kill more whales than all the English, collectively, in ten years.”
Yeah, I don’t think he is just talking about whales, it seems there is a deeper meaning under there…
So I didn’t really care for it, but at least I finally read it! Now I can cross it off my list and move onto the next item.
Today I choose the Christmas Carol, It Came Upon a Midnight Clear. It was written by Pastor Edmund Sears in 1849. At the time he was depressed and saddened by the war with Mexico and the strife that hung in the air. His friend, Pastor William Parsons Lunt, asked him to write a poem and this was what Sears came up with.
A year later, composer Richard Storrs Willis, wrote the music that the poem goes with.
I choose the version done by Celtic Woman as they are a fantastic group.
Jaws really is revolutionary movie. It is an amazing piece of cinema that breaks a lot of previous horror film rules. It focuses on both the people and the creature they are trying to kill. The camera uses are unparalleled. Instead of constantly being shown the shark (as it malfunctioned a lot) it is filmed from the shark’s point of [something down later in Friday the 13th (1980)] which adds to the terror of the film.
This also was the first “summer blockbuster” film. It opened on 409 screens nationwide (unusual for the time) and quickly became the highest grossing film of all time. Previous to Jaws, they would show the film on a few screens and then move the picture around. This mass-screening, all-over at the same time became so popular that it set the standard for what film companies do today. Jaws lost its place as the highest grossing film of all time in 1977 when Star Wars IV: A New Hope came out.
This film also brought a huge interest in sharks and marine biology. Now previous to this film you had monster movies and horror films that were about sea creatures attacking. Films such as The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms were you have some radioactive created creature that is ginormous and attacks the world. Or the mythological fishman from TheCreature from the Black Lagoon. Godzilla, being another radioactively changed creature that is trying to destroy or protect the city. It Came From Beneath the Sea a giant octopus that causes havoc and destruction. The Monster that Challenged the World where giant mollusks come out of a crevice in the ground and try to kill everyone. But have you noticed something? All of these are large creatures, most of the time accidentally or purposely genetically altered. Or fake, such as the fishman. None of these were an actual creature that you could come into contact with…like a great white shark. Not only is Bruce (the shark in the film, named after Steven Spielberg’s lawyer) something real and normal-sized; but he’s just freaky! The book and the film both present actual data (although more studies proved some of the behavior previously associated with great whites are false) and an actual creature you could come upon. I mean great white sharks have over 300 teeth, they can get to be over 21 feet long, they are pretty fast swimmers, can jump out of the water, and are constant eating machines. How could you not be afraid?
But just like Spielberg’s other film Jurassic Park made dinosaurs the “it” thing (and they have been ever since, although never as on top as in the ’90s) Jaws made sharks really cool. And they remain so. I remember back in grade school sharks were just so awesome! We had a guy come to our class that did a whole presentation on sharks, and everyone was riveted. And people still remain so. Sharks will never stop being cool. I mean after all, ever summer we have a week devoted to them, Shark Week, on the Discovery channel. Buzzfeed even did a quiz on “What Type of Shark are You”. And did I take this quiz you may ask? You bet I did!
Yep, Jaws is pretty amazing. So I’m sure you are now ready for the review, but I’m not about to go there just yet. So Jaws is based on the book by the same name, authored by Peter Benchley. The book was okay, but I preferred the movie. Unlike the book Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton; Jaws the book doesn’t hold a candle to the film version. This mostly has to do with the way they create the characters in the book. Hooper in the film is a an arrogant-rich kid, but you like him because he really gets involved in his work, and loses some of that stigma as the film progresses. In the book he is always annoying and he has an affair with Brody’s wife. The whole affair took away from the storyline and seemed tossed in, rather than attempting to flow.
Now the film on the other hand, follow the story pretty closely, but takes out the extra action not really needed. Plus the people they chose where just perfect. Roy Scheider was an amazing Chief Brody, balancing being a tough police chief, with a scared i-don’t-know-what-to-do everyday person. Richard Dreyfuss, as I mentioned earlier, smoked it as Hooper the marine biologist/rich kid. And Robert Shaw. No one will ever hold a candle to your Quint, no matter how the world may try.
So now let’s get back to film review-wait, wait wait. Let me say one last thing. So it feels really weird to be talking about this film without mentioning a few more memories. So let me say I have seen every Jaws film created, even the incredibly horrible ones (as pretty much each sequel was). I actually watched them all at a really young age with my older sister Paige. They were doing a movie marathon and we sat down and saw them all (which took a long time as these are not short films). When I was older, I actually couldn’t remember the finer points of the film, the biggest thing that stuck in my mind was the SeaWorld underwater tunnels and shark attack in Jaws 3-D.
Now every 4th of July I used to do the same thing. I would watch the Twilight Zone marathons that they would show on the SciFi, now SyFy, channel. (I know, I know. I’m a huge fan, but have yet to review any episode for a Horrorfest. I promise I will do at least one next year.) SyFy stopped doing this for a while (they have since brought it back but every year is iffy). Now AMC does some movie marathons on the 4th of July that usually had some patriotic feeling (like Rocky). One year they did a Jaws marathon, as the 4th of July plays a huge role in the film. I watched it that year and loved it all over again. Now my tradition trades off between Twilight Zone and Jaws every 4th of July.
So now we are seriously back on to the film review.
First let’s set the mood. It is the summer of 1975. Many families, young adults, teens, etc. are vacationing at beaches. Amity Island (where our story takes place) is one such beach. It is located on the east coast (a sort of Martha’s Vineyard that poor and rich can afford). On this particular night there are quite a few college age kids having bonfires on the beach. They are drinking beer, toking up (it is the ’70s), etc. One guy, Tom Cassidy, spots a blonde, Chrissie. The two run off away from the crowd to “be alone”.
As they get far from the crowds, Chrissie begins stripping and invites Tom in for some moonlight skinny dipping. She dives in right away and Tom tries to follow. However, he is far too bombed and collapses on the beach.
Chrissie is unaware and continues to swim. This is the last swim she will ever take.
The next day we are introduced to Martin Brody, the new Chief of Police. Brody is a native of New York City, but he and his family moved out to take over the Amity Island police force as they thought it would be easier, simpler and less deadly.
Anyways, we’ll get into that later. So Chief Brody (Scheider) has been called to go looking for Chrissie. He and his deputy Hendricks, go down to the beach to search for clues. It doesn’t take them long until they discover her corpse.
Back at the police station he gets asked to deal with the usual cases of the day; kids karate chopping down fences and other stuff. It seems to be business as usual until the report comes back. It states Shark Attack.
Immediately, Brodie runs to the hardware store to pick up materials to make sign to close the beaches.
However, the Mayor doesn’t like that. He knows that if word gets around that there are sharks in the water he can say good-bye to all those summer dollars.
Without that money, the winter will be hard on everyone. These people depend on the summer dollars to keep the island going year round. The Mayor convinces the coroner to “take a second look” of which causes the coroner to determine he had made “a mistake”. There was no shark attack, just a boating accident as she swam into a propeller.
Since that is the decision, Brody can’t do anything but allow the beaches to remain open. But this is all against his better judgement.
But hey, he is a newcomer that lives in a small town. He has to play the politics. Even if they have dire consequences.
So as time goes on more tourists come to the island. The beaches are stock full of visitors. Brody is worried and nervously scans the water. Everything is fine…until it isn’t.
I just love that scene when they zoom into Brodie’s face. It is fantastic. So Bruce sure did a number.
After her son’s death, Mrs. Kitner issues a $3000 reward for the capture of the shark. The town holds a meeting in which Brody lets them know he contacted someone from the Oceanographic Institute for advice. Brody wants to close down the beaches, but no one will listen. The fighting is interrupted by Quint, in one of the best scenes.
So great it was spoofed:
Brody goes home and orders his children to go nowhere near the water, even though his son Michael just got a new boat. Brody’s wife Ellen thinks he is overreacting, that is until she looks at the pictures in his shark book. She then firmly decides that staying out of the water is a great idea.
With such a high bounty, everyone wants to kill the shark. Expert fishermen from all over. Average joes. Everybody.
Matt Hooper (Richard Dreyfuss) comes to town, as he is the person from the Oceanographic Institute. He has an interesting background. Hooper was a rich boy that was into science and became a marine biologist. This can often be something that is hard to fund, so his parents + trust fund really come in handy.
Anyways, once Brody finds out who he is, has has him take a look at the remains.
“[Hooper is examining the remains of the first victim – describes the post-mortem into his tape recorder]
Hooper: The height and weight of the victim can only be estimated from the partial remains. The torso has been severed in mid-thorax; there are no major organs remaining…Right arm has been severed above the elbow with massive tissue loss in the upper musculature… partially denuded bone remaining…[to the m.e. and Brody] This was no boat accident! [to Brody] Did you notify the Coast Guard about this?
Brody: No. It was only local jurisdiction.
Hooper: [continues post-mortem] The left arm, head, shoulders, sternum and portions of the rib cage are intact…[to Brody] Do not smoke in here, thank you very much. [lifts up the severed arm] This is what happens. It indicates the non-frenzied feeding of a large squalus – possibly Longimanus or Isurus glauca. Now… the enormous amount of tissue loss prevents any detailed analysis; however the attacking squalus must be considerably larger than any normal squalus found in these waters. Didn’t you get on a boat and check out these waters?
Hooper: Well, this is not a boat accident! And it wasn’t any propeller; and it wasn’t any coral reef; and it wasn’t Jack the Ripper! It was a shark.
Meanwhile, out on the ocean, some fishermen have caught a large shark. Everyone is happy to see it and that the reign of terror is over. The monster has been slain.
Hooper steps up to investigate the shark:
And tells everyone that it is the wrong shark. It is a tiger shark, not a great white. The bite radius is all wrong. They decide to keep the beaches closed until they can cut him open and see if the remains are inside it. Before they leave, Mrs. Kinter arrives and slaps Brody across the face. She heard about the deaths and how they suspected sharks were in the area and blames Brody for everything.
Now Brody just takes this as he blames himself, but I always hated that. It wasn’t his fault! He wanted to stop them from keeping the beaches open. It was the greedy, evil mayor who wouldn’t listen.
Mayor from Buffy the vampire slayer
Well, I guess he could be much worse.
So Hooper joins the Brody clan for dinner. Now in the book, Ellen knew Hooper’s older brother and the two just spent the time reminiscing. They later had an affair. Luckily Speilberg was smart enough to cut that out, and they instead discuss the situation. Hooper explains that a rogue shark will often claim territory to an area where the feeding is good and will remain there until the food source is gone. In order to protect the town, they decide they need to get down there and cut that shark open.
No human remains means that the real shark is out there. Bruce? Where are you hiding?
Here I am!
Hooper decides they have to go out that night as the Great White Shark is a night feeder. Now Brody hates the water, as we mentioned earlier, but goes out with Hooper. Using Hooper’s fancy equipment, they pick up a fishing boat, that Brody recognizes as Ben Gardner’s. Hooper dives under and finds one big surprise.
The next morning Brody and Hooper try to get the Mayor to listen to them, but all the Mayor is thinking about is the graffiti on the Amity Island billboard.
Sign from Universal Studios Backstage Tour
Hooper has figured out that the shark that is attacking is a great white. The evidence all points to it and they need to close the beaches down. But the mayor won’t listen to him. Hooper lost the Great White Shark tooth he found and the Mayor sees it as tooo convinent. He believes that Hooper is just trying to spread a sensation as he wants to be written up in the National Geographic or something. However, that’s not the real truth. To be honest, the Mayor is just thinking about making money over saving lives.
Bad things happen when you don’t listen
July 4th the beaches are flooded. This is not good, not good at all. Brody, Hooper, and the cops are constantly patrolling the beaches, but all are on edge as they are waiting…waiting for the shark to attack.
Michael, Brody’s son, wants to go in the water, but Brody won’t let him. He tells him to go to the estuary instead as it is safer.
You never learn
Suddenly a shark fin appears in the water
But it turns out to be just a prank. Some stupid kids decided to dress as a shark. Seriously guys, what were you thinking?
While everyone is watching this and dealing with it…not too far away something happens.
A girl painting down by the estuary see’s a shark. She starts crying out the word, but most think it is a hoax. Brody starts to head over, but when he hears his son is down there he runs like crazy.
Now this is a great scene but I can’t find a good clip of it online. You’ll just have to watch the film! So Michael and his friends get capsized along with another guy. The shark devours tons of people, including the man that tried to help them.
Here I am!
Michael makes it out okay, but suffers severely from shock. Brody takes him to the hospital and yells at the Mayor, demanding that he pay all of Quints commands and let’s him kill the shark.
So the three set out to catch that fish, even though they face some issues. Quint wants to go it alone, but Brody insists that he and Hooper have to come along. Quints dislikes Hooper as he sees him as some rich boy having fun with daddy’s money, not a real fisherman or worker like Quint. Quint also dislikes having Brody as he knows nothing about fish or fishing, but at least he’s not afraid to get his hands dirty. Hooper is tired of the all the “you don’t know nothing, kid” crap he is getting from Quint and also annoyed at Brody. Brody has a fear of the water that he is trying to overcome, managing two grown men who are acting like children, and is afraid that he might not make it home to see family. There is a lot of stuff going on.
Once at sea they start getting ready for the hunt. Baiting lines. Chumming the water. And that is when we have the most famous lines from the film uttered. (You know it wasn’t even scripted. Scheider just uttered it in the heat of the moment.)
And that is when the real hunting begins!
That night the guys get drunk and start bonding. Singing drinking songs. Comparing scars and wounds. You know, the typical guy stuff. But that’s when things get serious and Quint describes his hatred for sharks.
At this moment, its not about the money. It’s not about the fame. Quint has become Captain Ahab, and he wants his whale…or shark in this case.
In fact this is one of the most dramatic scenes in the film as you get the underlying reason why this is so important to him. Of course as it is one of the most famous scenes, it has to be parodied.
Back to the film. The next day the hunt continues. They try and take the shark but Bruce proves to more powerful than they expected. They tried to reel it on, but it nearly capsized the Orca. Hooper decides to be lowered down in a shark cage to shoot Bruce with a harpoon filled with strychnine nitrate.
Hooper manages to escape the shark. This was were he was supposed to die, but then Speilberg changed his mind. After attacking Hooper, Bruce decides to go after the ship.
Pic of the shark from the Universal Backstage Tour ride
He crushes it and causes it to lean toward him. Brody and Quint struggle to hold on, but Quint loses his grip and finds himself in the belly of the beast.
Brody takes on killing the shark all by himself. This is why Brody is AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
One Shark Week on Discovery channel they actually tested out everything in the film. They discovered that if you shot a tank from the 1970s you could blow up a shark. You just have to shoot it right.
Hooper finally gets his act together and meets up with Brody, the two creating a raft and swimming off in the distance.
“I used to be afraid of the water,” Brody admits.
“I can’t imagine why,” Hooper replies.
But that’s not the end of the post. Oh, no we still have a bit more to cover. 🙂
So for my 20th birthday, my parents told me we could do whatever I wanted. It was the last time they were going to throw a party for me. I really wanted to go to Disneyland as the last time I had gone was when I was 12 (I went recently and will do a post on what it was like later). I decided on Universal Studios as it was much cheaper, and they were having a special for their anniversary that you buy a pass, you get in free for the year! Sweet!
So as we entered the gates, I was asked by a worker to fill out a survey for a free gift. You know me and free.
So I did and we got to skip the lines for the Backstage Studio Tour! Whooooooooooo!!!!!
So you see all kinds of cool things on that tour, but I’m not going to speak on everything. We gotta stay Jaws focused here. So at one point we drive to Amity Island.
Sign from Universal Studios Backstage Tour
We see the fake shark that they thought was Bruce but wasn’t.
Then we things get intense. Bruce attacks!
There were actually three Bruces created for the film. The first one is passed along museums, the second is at Universal studios, and the third privately owned. After Bruce attacks, they blow him up!
It’s so intense! The flames feel so close! It’s AWESOME!
Later I got to see Brody’s actual costume in the Universal Pictures Museum (that’s where I saw the Marty McFly one from Back to the Future: Part III).
But that’s not the end! So the other day a friend and I were discussing Jaws and Bruce’s motives.
Anjelica: Is this a horror movie? Or is it an animal, drama/history movie about a misunderstood shark that only wants hugs from others, but his eating disorder and anger issues gets in the way?
Me: Horror film. He is purposely hunting down Brody and his family, as seen in the sequels.
Anjelica: “Hunting down” or passionately pursuing the family he always wanted to have. Jaws should just befriend, Orca: The Killer Whale. lol
Me: I have changed my view on Bruce the shark. So Quint was in a shark attack but survived. He was supposed to die in it but somehow cheated death. Bruce is a supernatural entity (that’s why he can’t really die and comes back in the 3 sequels) in the guise of a shark that has been hunting him down to right that past wrong. He finally succeeds in killing him and is supposed to take Hooper too (as he dies in the book and original draft of the script) but Brody gets in the way. In fact Brody manages to destroy his “earthly form”. Then Bruce becomes angry and falls from his post (like Davy Jones in the Pirates films) and starts hunting for Brody, along with taking down all of his family.
So there we have it. I have officially joined the dark side. I have fully become a tumblr with that last comment.
So there we go. One of the best horror films that have affected us as people so strongly. People are afraid to swim because of this movie. Ever summer one week on the Discovery Channelis devoted to sharks. The theme is so AWESOME!!!!! I mean every time you go in water you have to hum it.
It is one amazing film. If you haven’t seen it, watch it. If you have seen it, watch it again.
And that’s the real end. I swear. Hope you enjoyed it!