Any film that possesses even a fleeting glimpse of a shark immediately gets compared to Jaws. That's just how iconic Steven Spielberg's 1975 nautical thriller actually is. However, rather than watching Jaws repeatedly so that he could avoid copying its style and shots, while at the same time being inspired, The Shallows' director Jaume Collet-Serra admitted that he actually decided to abstain from the film.
Jaume Collet-Serra made this admission to me earlier this weekend when I sat down with the Spanish director to discuss The Shallows, which revolves around a ravenous shark that preys upon Blake Lively's stranded Nancy Adams. After asking Jaume Collet-Serra whether he watched Jaws numerous times before he set off to the water to work on The Shallows, he admitted that the films were so different he didn't feel the need to. Jaume Collet-Serra explained:
It's obviously a genius movie made by a genius filmmaker. But no. Because what am I going to do? What could I take from it, because the tools used back then are completely different to now. The story is completely different. You know, I am obviously not going to use a mechanical shark. I'm not even going to shoot on film. It's such a different thing that you can not compare it, even what can I gain from it.
Which kind of makes sense. Sure, cinephiles don't need much of an excuse to sit down and watch Jaws, because it's easily one of the greatest cinematic achievements in the history of celluloid, but there's a good chance that if Jaume Collet-Serra had indeed looked to it for inspiration, it could have saturated his own style and approach.
While The Shallows is very much its own film, and Jaume Collet-Serra does a stellar job of elongating a succinct story into a high-octane and suspenseful piece, there are moments and shots that are similar to those from Jaws. Obviously that was inevitable, but it softens the blow that The Shallows is at least being compared to one of the best films of all time.
Like Steven Spielberg's production on Jaws, Jaume Collet-Serra also revealed exclusively to Cinema Blend that he found shooting in water on The Shallows "impossible" at times. If you want to know more about the troubles that Jaume Collet-Serra encountered during filming, which included being attacked by birds and water destroying his equipment, then click over here to read my piece.
The Shallows is now in cinemas across the US, and it's pretty damn enjoyable, too.