When I agreed to write these few words
as a preface to the new edition of The Jaws Log, I saw no need to
re-read the whole book. I recalled reading it in 1975 and thinking
then that it was an admirably accurate, balanced, and fair account of
the making of the movie.
Furthermore, over the ensuing
twenty-five years, I had become comfortable with the recollections my
personal memory bank had selected and shaped, and I wasn't interested
in disturbing the peace.
I opened the book, prepared to
skim through it-just for refreshment, you understand-and was hooked.
Instantly. I couldn't put it down till I had read it straight through
to the endnotes and final credits, for I found myself awash in vivid
memories of the most astonishing, tumultuous, and momentous months of
my life. Back in 1973 and 1974, nobody-myself least of all-knew
that we were involved in the birth of a phenomenon that would retain a
strange resonance in the culture for a quarter of a century...and in
the worldwide debut of a director who would go on to influence the
film industry like none other.
All of us, however, knew that we
were witnessing something memorable, exciting, probably unprecedented,
and, at times, altogether weird.
The making of Jaws has been chronicled
ad nauseam, in print, on film, audiotape, videotape, laserdisc and,
most recently, DVD. But no one in any medium has come close to being
as comprehensive or, more important, as accurate as Carl Gottlieb is
in his updated Jaws Log. (In sheer, raw volume, of course, the
Internet overwhelms everyone, but it's unreliable: too many so-called
facts go out into cyberspace unchecked and, often, dead wrong. I'm
misquoted in the digital ether all the time, often credited with quips
and epigrams that were actually uttered by my grandfather, who died in
For me, re-reading Carl's book was more than
merely pleasurable. I'd forgotten how rich it is in detail about the
movie business in general and about the appalling odds and apparently
insurmountable obstacles that faced the brave souls determined to make
Jaws on the open sea. I came away with renewed respect-"awe"
is probably a better word-for the then twenty-six-year-old Steven
Spielberg; for Director of Photography Bill Butler; for the
incomparable producers, Richard Zanuck and David Brown; for the late
and beloved Verna Fields; for Carl Gottlieb himself ... and for many
of the other characters you'll meet here.
At the end of his foreword, while
acknowledging the subjectivity and fallibility of memory, Carl says of
his story, "This was how I saw it."
Well, as far as I'm concerned, this is
how it was.
Excerpted from THE JAWS LOG - 25th
Anniversary Edition, by Carl Gottlieb. Introduction by Peter
Benchley Copyright (c) 2001 by Peter Benchley. Reprinted
by permission of Newmarket Press.