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Steven Spielberg Had A Funny Reaction The First Time He Heard The Jaws Theme

Jaws on a rampage
(Image credit: Universal Pictures)

John Williams just turned 90-years-old, and during his career the prolific film composer has created some of the most iconic movie themes in the history of film. However, it’s possible that none is more iconic than the two notes that make up the core of the Jaws theme. It’s so simple that Steven Spielberg admits that when Williams first played him the music, he thought it was a joke.

Considering what the Jaws theme has come to represent today, it’s hard to imagine anything else representing the shark musically, but the fact that so much of the theme is really just two notes has also made it the butt of some jokes. And Steven Spielberg saw it that way at first too. In a behind-the-scenes documentary (via THR) the director of Jaws admits he thought Williams was kidding the first time he played the music for him. Spielberg explained… 

I expected to hear something kind of weird and melodic, something tonal, but eerie; something of another world, almost like outer space under the water. And what he played me instead, with two fingers on the lower keys, was ‘dun dun, dun dun, dun dun.’ And at first, I began to laugh. He had a great sense of humor, and I thought he was putting me on.

Steven Spielberg and John Williams had worked together one time before Jaws, on Spielberg’s The Sugarland Express, and so the two knew each other. It’s not inconceivable that Williams could have been messing with Spielberg. But he was not, and eventually the director realized that, and also realized just what Williams was going for with the theme.

John Williams is responsible for some of the most memorable movie music ever. From Star Wars to Indiana Jones, from Superman to Harry Potter, you can’t talk about film scoring without talking about John Williams. He has more Oscar nominations than any other living person. He even composed the music that led to the first Grammy win by a theme park.

And those two notes in Jaws are perhaps at the top of the list when it comes to great film scores. Steven Spielberg himself said he was expecting something “weird” and of “another world” and honestly, that’s exactly what he got, it just didn’t arrive in quite the same form he was expecting. These two were clearly on the same wavelength as Williams would go on to score the majority of Spielberg’s movies to this day.

John Williams may be 90-years-old but he’s not done yet. He will return to score the currently in production Indiana Jones 5, assuming it ever comes out, and he’s already on deck to do the music for Steven Spielberg’s upcoming The Fabelmen. This means the greatest composer of movie music will have at least two more chances to blow us away.

Dirk Libbey
Dirk Libbey

CinemaBlend’s resident theme park junkie and amateur Disney historian. Armchair Imagineer. Epcot Stan. Future Club 33 Member.