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Classic thriller Jaws screened in the Gala Pool at Victoria Baths.
Words: George Haigh
Photography: © Nathan Dainty / VeryCreative
It is perhaps fitting that, after a summer of countless disappointing blockbusters, the Sheffield-based Village Screen pop up cinema brings the definitive blockbuster Jaws to Manchester’s Victoria Baths.
A classic piece of cinema, the film launched the great Steven Spielberg’s near 50-year career, smashing the box office and earning $14 million in just its first week, despite its infamous production troubles. While that may seem like spare change for some contemporary studios, Jaws’ impact on cinema is still echoed every summer, where the trend for big budget studio releases has perhaps taken influence from how successful this film was in its time, now holding up a legacy which sits somewhere in the pantheon of great American films.
The material of the film may seem obsessed with the summer season, it actually opened in December, a fact that might seem strange now, especially when you consider the amount of films that get released from early April until the end of September. However, Jaws was released at a time when studios considered a summer release to be a box office bomb, as audiences embraced summer for its weather, and films were generally saved for a cold, rainy day.
Everything worth mentioning about the film’s triumphs and troubles has been well documented from everyone involved in the film’s production to everyone who claims to suffer from aquaphobia since it’s release. Yes, it is a film that is renowned for unprecedentedly scaring the life out of the Americans that queued relentlessly around the block to see it. It’s interesting then, that over 40 years later, there’s still something completely traumatising about a largely unseen shark, lurking in the water, being brought to the big screen. This time, in 2016, the film was shown to a sell-out audience in the (thankfully) empty swimming pool at Victoria Baths, one of Manchester’s most stunning works of architecture, and one that will hopefully be restored to its refined beauty in the near future.
I wouldn’t like to try and begin to describe the fear of being eaten by a very big fish while actually watching a film about being eaten by a very big fish if the water in the pool was filled. For those who might have thought to tread lightly near the water, the event description reminded people, ”Just when you thought it was safe to enter Victoria Baths”. Instead, the pool was appropriately filled with deckchairs not too dissimilar to those that reside on the beach of Amity Island, the fictional beach resort where Jaws takes place.
Having only ever previously seen Jaws many years ago on TV, it was a pleasant surprise to find out about the screening that was put together brilliantly by those working at The Village Screen. In retrospect, the extremely positive crowd reactions at the end gave off the impression that it won’t be long before the next pop up cinema takes place in Manchester.
The food at the event was as delicious as it looked, and a range of craft beers and wine available at the fully stocked bar was always going to be a treat on a Friday night. The busy queues might have put some people off, but the amazing Cantonese food at the Dim Sum Su stall proved that patience really is a virtue. Of course, though, it was Jaws that really had people in their seats on time, eager for the film to begin. Laughs, screams, and cheers echoed through the Victoria Baths during the film’s two hour run time, and for a film 40-years-old, the prosthetics for the shark still hold up exceptionally well, making the experience all the more authentic.
A wonderful night from beginning to end, let’s just hope that the next time The Village Screen head to Manchester, they can follow it up with a film just as brilliant, although anything except any of the Jaws sequels will probably be fine.
For more information about Village Screen events,find them on Facebook.
Check out more of the fantastic photographs taken on the night in the album below and visit facebook.com/verycreativeltd for more…