Fins and Fears
The first movie that made an incredible impact on my life would have to be any of the Jaws thrillers. This movie depicts a great white shark as an evil demon out for blood and gore. Many innocent trips into the ocean turned fatal. And the director, Steven Spielberg, managed to come up with four movies with numerous ways a shark can attack. One movie in the series that sticks out vividly would have to be Jaws: The Return (directed by Joseph Sargent). It was right around the time I was eight years old. I had more nightmares about this movie than I can count. To this day I have an unbelievable fear of any body of water other than pools. This fear has stretched to my fear of bridges crossing over water. This movie was a plausible, well-directed film to the point that even viewing the movie today I still become frightened.
Regardless of how old this movie becomes I believe it can scar a child for life if he/she watches it at a young age, such as myself. And I regret ever sneaking behind my parents' back to watch this movie. My young rebellious action has caused a phobia that will never cease. There are many scenes I can never forget and everyday I go to the beach or lake I will experience flashbacks of the movie in my mind, warning me to stay away from the water.
In Jaws: The Return Ellen Brody (Lorraine Gary) is convinced that the same kind of shark that attacked her husband and kids in the past is out to finish her family off in this third sequel to the 1975 Steven Spielberg classic. When her youngest son, now taking over for his father as sheriff of Amity Island, is killed by a shark while investigating wreckage in Amity Harbor on Christmas Eve, Ellen Brody escapes with her other son Mike (Lance Guest) for the Bahamas, and meets up with a congenial local airplane pilot (Michael Caine). Unfortunately the beast of a shark seems to follow this family to the Bahamas and cause panic and terror around the island. I was deeply terrified by the shore attack. An innocent child is on a water raft and out of nowhere, close to shore, the bloodthirsty great white shark attacks. I can't even wade in knee deep water with out fear that I might be attacked. This movie has been reviewed as the worst of all three and that may be true, but just the impression it implanted in my young mind has now grown into a "characteristic" fear or trait. I have grown up with this fear for so long it just seems like it is apart of me now, this phobia is a representation of me.
Because of this movie I am scared of sharks. I can classify my phobia as an extreme case. I cannot go near any body of water that might represent a beach like setting. I feel very safe and content on the sandy areas away from the water. I am also very scared of rides in boats. I very rarely go sailing and it takes a lot to get me in the boat. This relates to a particular scene in one of the movies where the shark literally attacks the boat, puncturing it almost causing it to sink. While that scene may be unreasonable I still scare myself silly with it. This fear quickly reached to a higher level with my fear of bridges, particularly crossing water. While there are no sharks in these bodies of water I never believed that as a little girl. I feared the bridge would collapse and I would sink into bloodthirsty shark infested water. Today I realize the truth but I am still deathly afraid of bridges for fear of the collapse and sinking. If I had never seen this movie I doubt any such fears would have arose.
Watching this movie has caused me to look back on it and think "Gosh, my parents were right!" Something every teenager and young adult dreads to think or even speak, giving great satisfaction to their parents. When I was younger I always typically thought I would let my kids watch what they want. Now older I can see the impact it made in my life and can say I will do what it takes to make sure my child never watches a movie like Jaws at such a young age. I would hate for him/her to grow up with such fears as I have.
The Jaws series I believe has affected many people, I am not the only one. Having four movies about a man-eating shark is just a constant reminder to fear the ocean water and all sharks. What makes this movie most believable is that shark attacks do exist. While there are very few attacks each year, there is strong media attention for each incident due to this series. This movie related with children, teens, and adults because all were attacked while doing what normal children, teens, and adults do. These movie scenes were not over the top, but realistic. We are not all educated about sharks, therefore when a movie comes out about sharks we tend to believe what we see because we know no better. Jaws has made a significant negative impact on my life. I can accept it because I know I have learned from it: "Listen to your parents!"