Filmmaker Steven Spielberg says that the fear generated against real-life sharks by his 1975 film “Jaws” is something he regrets.
Recently the cinematic legend did an interview with the BBC’s Desert Island Discs program (via THR) with the director playing some of his favorite songs and discussing his various works over the years.
Along with promoting “The Fabelmans,” Spielberg talked about his own personal life and influences such as Bruce Springsteen and Alfred Hitchcock with the latter filmmaker a key part of the success of “Jaws”.
The movie famously utilised a mechanical shark that just wouldn’t work, forcing Spielberg into taking a less-is-more approach with the beast and adopting a Hitchcock-style approach to suspense and fearing what you can’t see:
“I had to be resourceful in figuring out how to create suspense and terror without seeing the shark itself. Hitchcock did that, and I think Hitchcock was a tremendous guide for me in the way he was able to scare you without really seeing anything.
It was just good fortune that the shark kept breaking. It was my good luck, and I think it’s the audience’s good luck, too, because it’s a scarier movie without seeing so much of the shark.”
Then asked how he’d feel being on a desert island surrounded by shark-infested waters, the filmmaker got serious about the negative depiction of sharks in the film and the greater cultural impact that has had:
“That’s one of the things I still fear – not to get eaten by a shark, but that sharks are somehow mad at me for the feeding frenzy of crazy sport fishermen that happened after 1975, which I truly, and to this day, regret the decimation of the shark population because of the book and the film. I really, truly regret that.”
The film, of course, was an adaptation of the 1974 novel by Peter Benchley has previously apologized for his role in the subsequent large drop in the shark population following the book and film’s release. In his later years, he became a marine environmental conservation advocate.