My wife and I were among the couple of hundred patrons who gathered in the Paramount Arts Center on Friday to watch the special showing of JAWS, the 1975 blockbuster classic that can still make you afraid of getting in the deep end of the water.
We arrived early, about an hour before show time, and had already shared most of a bag of popcorn while waiting for the doors to open. It didn’t exactly fit into my diet, but who can resist that smell as you walk into the place?
Once the doors opened at 7, we had only a 30-minute wait until the movie started. Or so we thought. The screen wasn’t as big as I remembered, but still much bigger than my television.
However, you could sense a bit of panic in the place and it wasn’t because of the giant shark. It was because of technology.
What was showing on the “big screen” was the DVD startup page with Play underscored – and in black and white. OK, we thought, it was a shot of the ocean with a buoy floating so maybe, just maybe, it was a darker shot.
Try as they might, though, the two workers who were frantically and faithfully trying to make the movie happen for us were failing. They were making multiple trips up and down the aisle and then behind the curtain on the stage to try and fix the problem.
It made you wonder about the man behind the curtain. But that’s another movie, isn’t it?
They kept making those trips, faster and faster it seemed and sometimes running with a cellphone to the ear. They were dripping with panic. You could almost smell it.
The audience came to witness the panic of JAWS, like we remembered it some forty-two years ago when the movie literally kept people out of the ocean water. We all knew that ,while it had been a few years since the movie was produced, the film wasn’t in black-and-white or silent.
When they were finally able to get the “play” button pushed, the movie came on not only in black-and-white but also without sound. Oh no! But here’s the best part: In a day when nobody exhibits patience, this friendly crowd did. We laughed a little, recited the lines because we’ve seen the movie so many times, and even tried to “sing” the JAWS theme when the giant shark came after the swimmers in those opening scenes.
My wife correctly observed today how cool it was that everybody in the place (or at least that we could see) was gracious and patient. There was no booing or hate speech toward the Paramount workers who tried so diligently to make this movie happen. The audience clapped and cheered each time they were able to start the movie, in black-and-white and with or without sound.
Eventually, forty-five minutes after the scheduled starting time, we enjoyed JAWS again in beautiful color and booming sound in the theater of our childhood (for a lot of us anyway) and on a screen that wouldn’t fit in your house. We jumped at several parts of the flick even though we knew what was going to happen.
One couple that got up to leave went back to their seats after the movie came back on in color. The crowd gave them a nice round of applause, too, and I’m sure they enjoyed the movie as much as anyone.
There were some good lines before the sound started: “How will the people know when the shark is coming without the music?” The JAWS theme song is epic. Even though the mechnical shark they named Bruce had few screen shots the use of constant, pulsing notes made the ocean monster even more mysterious and menacing.
Instead of a crowd turning ugly because of impatience, they were forgiving and determined to have a good time no matter what the circumstances. They applauded when the movie was over and have a good memory to share beyond watching the classic again.
To the two Paramount workers who never gave up, thank you for your diligence in making JAWS a night to remember again.