Musings About Music In Film

Jaws 3-D

jaws-3-1 I have kind of an obsession with Jaws 3-D. I loved all of the series as a kid, but for some reason the third film always had some sort of strange hold over me, and I remember sitting down on New Year's Day 1987 watching the network premiere on ITV (back when there were just four channels). My younger self was mesmerised by things like the arm floating in the water, the undersea kingdom, and the guts and jaws that were left after the shark's destruction.

Yeah, I know it's dreadful. Shut up.

Anyway, due to my predilection for liking film scores, Alan Parker's music - which has just been issued by Intrada as a 2-CD set - seemed pretty neat. l had (and still have) the LP, and that record's reissue by Intrada from a few years ago, so it's wonderful to finally see the full score released, hot in the heels of their great Jaws The Revenge release. Jaws 3-D was the first major feature for Parker, who was mainly known as a TV composer, scoring shows like Minder and Dempsey & Makepeace, and it's a surprisingly confident work.

Predictably however, it wasn't an easy ride for Parker, with the film going through several iterations before it was released. Originally running around two hours, a fair chunk was cut, with the final run time coming in at ninety-nine minutes. Because of this, Parker had to rescore quite a lot, as well as score parts for TV versions. Considering the obstacles, the result is pretty amazing.

Parker's score is frequently exciting and flamboyant, perhaps even for a Jaws film (although John Williams' Jaws 2 is pretty sprightly itself). The film is more of a disaster movie and in a previous life could have been called Irwin Allen's Jaws 3-D, as people are trapped inside water tunnels, things malfunction, everyone panics, only because of a giant shark versus a fire or earthquake. Because it's literally set at a theme park, it has that extra theatrical edge that Parker uses to his advantage, with not only sharks but whales and dolphins to score (this was before everyone hated Sea World).

The main theme is appropriately extravagant and develops from its initial rendition in the main title as a sinister sting for the title card to a more melodic and eventually triumphant version, where it's used as the finale and end credits. It's a lovely tune, whether it's being played huge on the brass or subtle on winds, and Parker has a knack for melody, also introducing a gentle love theme for Kay and Mike. The theme has a sense of slight regret, appropriate for the crossroads of the characters, but its subdued feel makes it a bit of relief from the bustle of the rest of the score.

A great thing about Jaws 3-D is that it's a proper shlocky monster movie, which invites Parker to go wild. He uses lots of exciting orchestral crashes and enjoys including Williams' shark theme at many an opportunity, giving it an aggressive bent that has a great effect and fits in with the more exploitative feel of the picture. It's big and symphonic and fun; a great listen for a whacked-out cousin of the original Jaws.

Intrada's release is simply magnificent. Set over two CD's, you get the full score as used in the film and a ton of alternate takes, both from the original recording sessions and cuts used for TV versions. The art direction is pretty great and Scott Bettencourt's notes are fine, but the real joy is hearing this score in beautiful remastered sound quality. I've long waited for this release, and even though it was initially spoiled, it's still a wonderful surprise from Intrada. Let's hope they've been counting down 4, 3, 2, 1...

- Charlie Brigden

Jaws 3-D is available now from Intrada Records