You’ll Need a Bigger Coffee Table for Jaws: Memories from Martha’s Vineyard
A small shelf or coffee table simply won’t do if you want to own Jaws: Memories from Martha’s Vineyard by Matt Taylor. Whatever you prefer, you’re gonna need a bigger one to hold this book. The behemoth behind the scenes volume is so meaty Jaws himself would have trouble sinking his teeth all the way into it.
The first reason he would struggle is the book’s size (11.9″ x 10.5″) and weight (4.67 lbs). At almost 5 pounds, it’s one heavy duty book! Secondly, there are over 300 sprawling pages with the most comprehensive making of account you’ll find available about Steven Spielberg’s famous film. Memories from Martha’s Vineyard delves deeper than any DVD commentary or behind the scenes documentary could possibly go, sharing hours of interviews and a wealth of amateur and professional photos depicting the people, places, and props that brought the movie to life.
Starting with the location scouting that led filmmakers to the New England island of Martha’s Vineyard, this book intricately documents the movie’s entire production process from start to finish. There’s an unexpected but brief foreword by Steven Spielberg as well as interviews with production designer Joe Alves, screenwriter Carl Gottlieb, and casting director Shari Rhodes. Although the real stars of Memories from Martha’s Vineyard are the island’s working-class natives who got acting roles in “Jaws,” helped construct the sets, and assisted the crew with day-to-day affairs.
Because he’s a resident of the area, Taylor is able to give you a true insider’s glimpse into the quirks of these unique New Englanders and the subtleties of their culture. His familiarity with the location is a big reason why he got such great candid remarks for this book. People there clearly trust him to do the subject justice.
Perhaps the most fascinating element that Taylor explores about his native island is the complexity of its politics. For instance, using several angles, he vividly recounts a frustrating tiff between local leaders and the film crew about a building being constructed as a set. Protective politicians almost caused production to grind to a complete halt because the temporary structure was not in keeping with rigorous zoning regulations. Thankfully due to finesse and assistance from the right stakeholders, everything was eventually resolved.
Jaws: Memories from Martha’s Vineyard is truly a fantastic read for anyone rabidly obsessed with Steven Spielberg’s epic movie, and for film buffs in general. This gorgeous book has enough cool photos and fascinating anecdotes to keep you occupied for hours.
Its only real detriment is its massive size and weight, which makes it incredibly difficult to read for more than a few minutes at a time. It’s too heavy to hold in your hands for long and it’s not something you can read laying down in bed. It’s a shame that it doesn’t lend itself to being explored cover to cover because the content absolutely makes you want to do that. So you’ll just have to ration your reading, taking just a few pages at a time, because there’s no way the publisher Titan Books could make it any smaller without sacrificing the quality of this volume.
Jaws: Memories from Martha’s Vineyard is available now in stores and online at www.titanbooks.com.
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