In the next of my posts on contents tourism (if you don’t know what contents tourism is, please see my post about Tanigawa and Ichi-no-kurasawa), and having already done three on one of my top three favourite films (see my post on the New Otani Hotel for discussion on this) on You Only Live Twice, I’m turning to my favourite movie, Jaws.
Many of the places I have been for contents tourism, I have happened to be in the area rather than making a deliberate visit because of the filming of a favourite movie there. Akime and Tanigawa are perhaps the exceptions in this regard. Many visits were made before I even knew of the term ‘contents tourism’. But when I travelled with my family to Martha’s Vineyard in 2017, the main purpose was because of my love of Jaws, a movie which I have literally watched countless times from when I was a child. Even today I can probably recite most, if not all, of the dialogue. So when it was decided that we would be having a holiday in New York and New England, Martha’s Vineyard went straight onto the list of places we would definitely visit.
We stayed in Boston and drove down to Wood’s Hole to catch the boat across to Martha’s Vineyard. Even this was part of the movie experience for me as the opening of the boat reminded me of the scenes when the 4th July tourists arrive at Amity in the movie.
Having got to the island at Oaks Bluff, we took a bus to Edgartown. Given over 40 years had passed since the filming of Jaws, I was struck by just how much of the centre of the town was recognisable from the movie. I half expected a parade to come along the street.
Walking around, I was delighted to find that the local cinema shows Jaws every Sunday – just as I did (dare I say ‘religiously’?) almost every Sunday for many years.
As expected many local shops are still cashing in on the movie too.
But it was when we went down to the waterfront that I was really transported back in time. So many scenes came to mind.
Having completed our visit of Amity Town, sorry Edgartown, we took another bus, heading back towards Oaks Bluff. But we got off part way at the stop officially known as ‘Big Bridge’, but known by everyone as ‘Jaws Bridge’. Although the original bridge has been replaced, the modern structure looks very similar to the one in the movie. I could almost picture the shark. I also watched the relevant scenes on my phone while stood where they were filmed.
And then there was the beach. Although none of the props were there, it was recognisable. And, no, I couldn’t go in the water. Unlike my kids.
After spending some time at the beach, we took another bus back to Oaks Bluff, where I bought an obligatory T-Shirt.
In may respects one of the most memorable parts of the day was the ferry trip back to the mainland. It was a beautiful sunset – at the end of a day when there had been a partial solar eclipse.
But more than the sunset, it was the sounds of the buoys that I remember. That haunting sound that reminded me of the start of the Jaws.
I know there are many places on the island connected with the movie that I’ve not visited – there simply wasn’t time. But I hope to return to the island and see them one day, especially as I’ve read a couple of great books after my return to the UK about the making of the movie. Who knows, if I go back, I may even go in the sea.
As most of my research is related, there hasn’t really been much of an opportunity to bring Jaws into my research. I have managed to bring it in to my teaching – using the scene about the USS Indianapolis when teaching about the atomic bombing of Hiroshima.
But an article in 2020 about disaster narratives provided the chance – questioning another person’s view that Jaws is a disaster movie. I have also managed to bring a Jaws reference into my novel Tokyo 20/20 Vision.