As a motion picture, “Jaws” is packed to the gills with iconic characters and moments. Whether it is Brody facing down the shark with only a shotgun and an oh-so-slim chance of triumph, or Quint, atop the Orca’s viewing platform, quietly whistling in the twilight, the images contained within the film have left an indelible stamp on not only the psyche of movie-fans around the sphere, but also on the language of cinema itself. Heck, consider how many times you’ve seen Spielberg’s virtuoso “Vertigo”-esque dolly-zoom shot of Brody’s stunned reaction to Alex Kintner’s death recreated by other filmmakers (you can put Spike Lee, alone, down for at least a dozen tries).
However, outside of the film, and all the wondrous details and artistry contained within its taut 125 minutes, one would be remiss to not acknowledge “Jaws’” remarkable one-sheet poster design. Created by artist Tony Seiniger, who updated and tweaked Roger Kastel’s very similar Bantam books paperback cover, the artwork has appeared on an endless parade of shirts, collectible cups, trading cards and novelty art (I have a 3D sculpt of it hanging over my bed). It was also retrofitted for every subsequent sequel’s ad campaign. Ultimately, Seineger and Kastel’s contribution to the property has been, in many ways, crucial to the continued success in the marketing of the classic.
Over the course of my many years of fandom, and while doing research for this 35th anniversary event, I’ve encountered a number of foreign theatrical posters that eschew the traditional art-work in favor of something stranger, riskier or more experimental. Hence, it seemed like a fun idea to gather some of the more outstanding efforts for your perusal and enjoyment. You’ll no doubt note that only the first two films are represented by these choices, but this is only because, beginning with “Jaws 3D,” Universal seemingly abandoned the multiple-concept approach and simply used the same artwork in all markets. A true pity.
Nonetheless, here are my Top 5 Coolest Foreign “Jaws” Posters:
5. “Jaws,” Thailand Version – Although fairly close to the American original, I have to admit that I’m somewhat tickled by the overhead images featured on this work. It looks almost as if the fearsome aquatic predator is being confronted by an extremely vengeful and colorful storm cloud, or perhaps is having a particularly unsettling nightmare about the events of the film (presupposing, of course, that fish dream). That said, it’s terrific to see the Orca featured and Brody’s bloody-machete swing (Nitpick: it should have been Quint wielding the weapon) is totally bad-ass and oddly reminiscent of the many slasher film posters which would follow. On the whole, this design is a bit busy, but nicely captures the romanticized sense of adventure that the movie so thrillingly captures.
4. “Jaws 2,” Polish Version – What’s scarier than a great white with one set of razor-sharp teeth? How about one with two alarming sets of razor-sharp man-mashers? Taking the film’s title amusingly literal, this design, rendered by Edward Lutczyn, could almost boast the tagline “New shark. Twice the bite.” Come to think of it, how much cooler would it have been had the bather-chomping star resembled this creation? Perhaps toxic waste could have been the culprit… Okay, now I’m engaging in absurd fan-wankery, but there’s no arguing that this poster – though seriously weird – would look pretty damn nifty hanging on your wall.
3. “Jaws,” Czech Version 1 – Though a movie-goer could easily be forgiven for having absolutely no idea what Zdenek Ziegler’s abstract one-sheet is advertising, it’s definitely an awesome artistic interpretation of a shark feeding frenzy. The swath of bright red blood, mixed with the choppy depictions of a furiously vicious predator, is pretty breath-taking, and nicely echoes the frantic brutality of the film’s gruesome attack scenes. It’s too bad the credits at the bottom weren’t printed with the little more flair, but the image is so visceral and eye-catching that I almost don’t care.
2. “Jaws,” Czech Version 2 — Geez, what’s in the water over there in Czechoslovakia? And why can’t there be a little of it over here? Another impeccable attempt at illustrating the energy and feel of the film, this poster, by an uncredited artist, is far less emotion-driven and intense than the previous version, and more fitting in regards to the shark’s coldly methodical, instinct-driven approach to survival. The blood-in-the-water motif is again vibrantly prominent but I’m actually more intrigued by the shark’s placement on the poster; just a hair away from vanishing from the scene. Very much in keeping with the strike-and-retreat behavior of the on-screen leviathan, I’d have to say.
1. “Jaws,” Polish Version – I unabashedly adore this one-sheet, designed by Andrzej Dudzinski, and would love nothing more than to find an affordable copy of my very own. Again, the violence of the attack is front and centre, but the otherwise tranquil nature of Amity is perfectly encapsulated in this portrayal. The frothy, churning sea, offset against the more uniform, gentle waves, and the rich, untouched greens of the surrounding cliffs? Gorgeous. The ominous, never-ending expanse of dark blue ocean stretching out into oblivion under the striking sunrise (or sunset)? Captivating. Even if I didn’t have any idea what this poster was advertising, wild horses couldn’t prevent me from buying a ticket to find out. It’s just that effective and mesmerizing.
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