Inside Jaws (2013)
Once again Jamie Benning has created a filmumentary that is pretty much a definitive exploration of its subject matter. Inside Jaws contains a staggering amount of facts, details, insight and commentary about one of the greatest films ever made. Yet despite a wealth of information, it is presented in a way that is easily digestible and enhances the movie, rather than overwhelms it. As with Star Wars Begins, the original movie is annotated with on-screen text, commentary tracks and behind the scenes footage, which provide incisive overview into the movies production.
I cannot stress how much work Jamie has gone to in assembling this filmumentary. Not only has he trawled through hours of TV coverage, radio spots, press releases, news articles and biographies, he has also personally contacted and interviewed numerous people associated with the production. This has provided a lot of new and interesting anecdotes and personal stories about the movies lengthy production in 1974. Inside Jaws is the embodiment of a labour of love, yet it is far more than a fan film. Its measured, well thought out approach offers a documentary to rival that of any professional outlet. This is a production that is accessible to both ardent fans, scholars of cinema and those who are simply curious about one of the most successful movies of the seventies.
Throughout Inside Jaws running time, not a stone is left unturned with regard to the production. The screenplay, production design and casting are all explored. It also discretely handles the thorny issue of the authorship of Quint's USS Indianapolis speech; a subject that has been greatly debated over the years. Writers Howard Sackler and John Milius and Robert Shaw all had a hand in shaping the scene and ownership has always been contested. The documentary also shows that despite being a difficult and problematic production, Jaws was a blockbuster that was made with a great deal of integrity and artistic vision. Something I don't believe that can be said about a lot of modern day equivalents.
So, if you enjoy Steven Spielberg's movie on any level, do yourself a favour and watch it again through the unique medium of Jamie Benning's filmumentary. It can only enhance your enjoyment of one the best movies ever made. And when you’ve finished, check out Jamie’s other documentaries. Raiding the Lost Ark, Star Wars Begins, Building Empire and Returning to Jedi. All are available via his Vimeo channel and well worth viewing.