With students from 127 countries and 155 quality international partnerships, De Montfort University (DMU) Leicester is well used to being a global university. Yet it’s a 40-year-old B-movie-style feature film that was giving it particular world attention.
A one-day symposium, open to the public, will be staged at DMU next week (Wednesday, 17 June) to celebrate Steven Spielberg’s Jaws, the $2bn blockbuster (adjusted for inflation) that not only defined a film genre but became a cultural phenomenon. Remember that haunting music (has it ever gone away?), the arm found on the beach, that mutilated head floating out from under a savaged boat?
Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the water, the event, organised by Professor Ian Q.Hunter, Professor of Film Studies and leading member of DMU’s acclaimed Cinema and Television History (CATH) research group, has really caught the imagination and become a focus for the world’s media.
Observer film critic Mark Kermode describes how Jaws “changed the face of modern cinema” when it was released in the summer of 1975 and how, 40 years on, prominent academics Peter Krȁmer and Sheldon Hall will go head to head at DMU on the question of whether Jaws was indeed the ‘first blockbuster.’
Kaya Burgess, in The Times, leads on some of the film’s interpretations set to be presented at the symposium, such as how Jaws reveals the crisis at the heart of masculinity, how it charts the rise of ecofeminism and represents sharks as “queer dissidents.” She reports how one academic will argue Spielberg’s adaptation of Peter Benchley’s novel was responsible for “creating the myth of the man-eating machine”, saddling an already endangered species with an unfair reputation for bloodthirstiness.
Further coverage was secured in The Express and The Australian, as well as in the blogosphere.
Professor Hunter, who was interviewed on Monday morning by Nick Ferrari for LBC, introduced the film when it was shown at Leicester's Phoenix Cinema.
He described the film to the Observer as “a new kind of family film… for the generation of The Towering Inferno and Earthquake, offering the kind of thrills that had previously been the domain of X-rated movies.
“For me, it remains one of the truly great and lasting classics of American cinema, a perfect piece of movie-making.”
Other key speakers at the event included respected film authors and scholars Murray Pomerance, of Ryerson University, Canada and Nigel Morris, principal lecturer at University of Lincoln. Carl Gottlieb, the screenwriter of Jaws, will join the conference from California via Skype.
Posted on Tuesday 22nd March 2016