The Oscar Project
For movie lovers of a certain age, "Bruce the Shark" is the first horror movie icon that they remember seeing on the big screen. However, the titular character from Steven Spielberg's 1975 film Jaws that ushered in the era of the summer blockbuster has been missing for 40 years. Just like in the film, the monstrous creature has been hidden from public view, waiting to make his triumphant appearance and dazzle the public.
But soon, the wait will be over. Just last week, the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures completed installation of one of the most iconic objects from its permanent collection, the only surviving full scale shark model from Jaws. This moment signals exciting momentum toward the Academy Museum’s much-anticipated opening on April 30,2021, where the 25-foot model will be on view, free to the public.
The monumental model is the fourth, final, and only surviving version of the shark model derived from the original Jaws mold. The creation of the infamous mechanical shark—which Spielberg is rumored to have named "Bruce" after his lawyer—was tasked to art director Joe Alves, whose original schematics depict the 25-foot long body, 400-pound head, and jaws nearly five feet wide. The three screen-used production molds cast in latex and rubber rotted and were destroyed. The Academy Museum’s version, cast in fiberglass for photo opportunities at Universal Studios Hollywood surrounding the film's 1975 release, survived at Universal until 1990 when it found its way to Nathan Adlen's family's junkyard business in Sun Valley, California. In 2010, it was authenticated by Roy Arbogast, a member of the original Jaws film's special effects crew, and in 2016, the Academy Museum acquired the shark model through a contribution by Nathan Adlen. The museum worked with special effects and make-up artist Greg Nicotero, co-founder of KNB EFX, to meticulously restore the fiberglass shark which had deteriorated from being outdoors for 25 years.
The conservation is now complete, and the Academy Museum has undertaken the complex task of moving the largest object from its collection on site. Since the shark is so large, it is unable to fit in the museum’s elevators. Instead, a team of art handlers, engineers, and construction workers removed two panels from the Saban Building’s curtain wall of glass and expertly craned Bruce into the building.
Bruce’s dramatic new home is suspended 30 feet above the third floor of the Pritzker Prize-winning architect Renzo Piano-designed Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, where the public can enjoy it once again. In its new location, Bruce will be visible from many vantage points within the museum and to passersby outside on Fairfax Avenue and 6th Street.
A film made by your favorite director
I had such a hard time picking a favorite director for this category, so I landed on Steven Spielberg. I already had two Christopher Nolan films on the list and had selections from some greats like Alfred Hitchcock, Stanley Kubrick, George Lucas, Ridley Scott, and Peter Jackson but I only had one Spielberg film (Jurassic Park) way back on day 2. And if you’ve been playing along all month, you’ll know that a few of those names I just mentioned are teasers for upcoming films in the last few days.
Obviously, Spielberg has such a vast catalog of films he has directed over a nearly 50-year career, I had many options to choose from. Some other choices that were near the top of my list included Jaws, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Schindler’s List, and Minority Report. But if I had to pick one movie that only Spielberg could have made, it would be E.T. The Extraterrestrial.
There is so much to love about this film. He clearly moved on from Close Encounters of the Third Kind and wanted to make a different kind of alien movie and succeeded in that. From the instant E.T. appears on screen, anyone watching the film loves him. Granted, the film was released three months after I was born, but I would guess that the love for E.T. hasn’t been matched in the nearly 40 years since then, with the exception of the recent addition to the Star Wars universe, Baby Yoda.
I think it’s a credit to the enduring legacy of this film that it even inspired a short film/commercial last holiday season that featured Henry Thomas, the actor who portrayed Elliott in the original. You can watch that short film here. I dare you to watch even this short 4-minute clip without tearing up just a little.
We all want a little part of E.T. in our life, something from completely outside our imagination that we can believe in and be connected to. And deep down, we probably all understand that we may not get to keep that strange thing for long, but that it will always be a part of our experience and remain in our heart forever.
Day 18 – A film that stars your favorite actor/actress | Day 20 – A film that changed your life
I thought I'd try something different and take a look at the movies slated for release in theaters this weekend, and anticipate if any of them might be nominated for Oscars this year.
Ready Player One
Fortunately for me, I think there is a guaranteed nominee being released this week in Ready Player One. If the trailers I've been seeing non-stop for the past three months are any indication, it's a safe bet that Spielberg's latest film will win a nomination for Best Visual Effects. Since it is based on a popular book of the same name by Ernest Cline, a Best Adapted Screenplay nomination is an outside possibility, but I would say less likely than the effects.
I'm just a film buff who wants to watch great movies. Where else to find the best, than the list of those nominated by the Academy each year?