Jaws screenwriter Carl Gottlieb explodes film myths at DMU symposium

Scores of Film devotees - and thousands more online – were happy to get back in the water at De Montfort University (DMU), at a high-profile symposium exploring the hidden depths and enduring power of Jaws.


The special day-long event, put on to coincide with the 40th anniversary of the movie’s American release, unpacked accepted myths and shared exciting new thoughts about director Steven Spielberg’s first masterpiece.

The event also wielded big-name power by closing with a guest appearance by actor and screenwriter Carl Gottlieb who, with Spielberg, helped shape a story that continues to fascinate.

IN THE TEETH OF THE ARGUMENT: From left, Prof Hunter, Murray Pomerance, Nigel Morris

The symposium, part of the Faculty of Technology Research Seminar Series, also boasted academic heavyweights. Keynote speakers were Spielberg experts Murray Pomerance, who explored the challenges faced by Jaws in a sea of critical thinking, and Nigel Morris, who followed the shark’s progress through the director’s other films -- and showed how ‘a monster movie’ had been able to bite back at elitist resistance.

Sheldon Hall exploded the ‘first blockbuster’ legend and Linda Ruth Williams questioned Spielberg’s child-friendly fare credentials.

The event was organised by Ian Q. Hunter, Professor of Film Studies and deputy director of DMU’s acclaimed Cinema and Television History research group.

He said: “I was delighted so many members of the public, inspired by the press coverage and by screenings at the Phoenix, came to enjoy an academic event.

“We brought together film fans and international scholars for their mutual benefit and enjoyment. It shows the value of reaching out beyond the lecture theatre. The highlight was the Skype interview with Carl Gottlieb, who was charming, insightful and generous with his time.”

Carl Gottlieb offered new perspectives on the film’s production and settled issues around some of Jaws’ most famous lines, and just who wrote or improvised them – including the ‘Indianapolis speech’ and ‘bigger boat’ quote.

#JawsDMU was the No.1 trending Twitter hashtag in Leicester on the day of the event.

Fans in Amity Island-inspired T-shirts were in evidence and thrilled by meeting with another of the production’s stars – a yellow barrel actually seen in the third-act, shark hunt sequence.

As a thank-you, Professor Hunter’s colleagues presented him with a fibre-glass shark’s head, raising £220 for the LOROS hospice in Groby in the process.
Posted on Thursday 18th June 2015

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