Steven Spielberg Thought Jaws Theme Was a Joke

'I began to laugh,' the director recalls
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 9, 2022 1:10 PM CST

That iconic dun dun, dun dun. You can hear it in your head, right? When Steven Spielberg initially heard it, his reaction was to ... laugh. He thought what would become the theme song of Jaws was a joke. It's a tidbit surfaced by the Hollywood Reporter in honor of film composer John Williams' 90th birthday Tuesday; the magazine dredged it up from a segment on a DVD on the making of the movie. In it, Spielberg recounts hearing those chords for the first time, and how he expected "something of another world, almost like outer space under the water." You know what Williams played instead.

"At first, I began to laugh. He had a great sense of humor, and I thought he was putting me on." Williams let him know it was no joke and played it a few more times until Spielberg saw the light—or the ominous darkness. "I think the [Oscar-winning] score was responsible for half of the success of that movie," was Spielberg's ultimate take. On the DVD, Williams explains part of why it worked so well: He could play with the speed and the volume of the chords, and their repetition also provided an opportunity: to shock the audience when the shark appears without the foreboding musical intro. In other Spielberg news, Screen Rant notes that with his best director nod for West Side Story, Spielberg becomes the first person to be nominated for that particular Academy Award in six different decades. (More Jaws stories.)

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