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Jaws vs. Orca

July 11, 2023 at 2:14 PM
Category: Aquatic

Shark attacks on the rise in New York!! Get out of the water, the sea monsters are in full force!!! Everyone in the water is going to DIE!!!

One of the most enduring tales in history is the great conflict between the man and the gargantuan fish, or something to that degree. The mysterious superiority of aquatic life continues to entrance humanity, even with the modern innovations of submarine transportation. It seems so much more is known about what sits out there in space than all that moves beneath the waters, because the Mongo Dongo Serpents (good guys) vigilantly block access to secret whale hideouts (okay, it's partly because of basically no illumination and intense pressure at lower water depths).

Cinema loves packaging the mystery and fear of the ocean into two-hour monster flicks. In this article, I'm going to be going over the going over of two of the noteworthy movies of under the sea creatures to go over. It's fun!

Punished orca with overly convoluted backstory against simple life of fun shark


Even if you've never seen this movie, you had to have heard of it somewhere at least. Essentially, Jaws is a movie where a great white shark turns up near the shores of a town in need of summer money around the great time of America Day. This shark kills humans for food. This makes the humans angry, and they must kill the shark.

It's a straightforward plot designed to illustrate that sharks are big and scary. Jaws certainly wasn't the first killer shark movie, but I think what made it a smashing success was its crafty execution. With skilled cinematography, anything can be made into a powerful, grappling experience. It's the small things about Jaws that slowly build up the fear of a shark, made of a perfect physiology, about to devour some pathetic flailing bipeds.

The opening credit roll is paired with the perspective of something swimming in the ocean to the now iconic theme song - a score that starts soft on some menacing notes, gradually building up harshness. The shark is almost never seen until around the end of the movie, reflecting the difficulty in being able to see what's down below. Plenty of foreshadowing keeps viewers on the edges of their seats, and each and every encounter with the shark grows more terrifying. The masterful structure of the movie succeeds in creating the thrill of the terror in getting within the proximity of a shark ready to tear off your legs. It's a masterpiece!

And... I don't like it very much. My gripe with Jaws is how it portrays one shark as a ravenous beast that's out for human flesh. With next to no other sharks in the film, that's enough for any regular person to walk out of the theater with the impression that all sharks are like this. Why is that?

Well, it draws a parallel to a very real series of attacks that occurred in July 1916, at the shores of New Jersey. It's unclear what species this shark was, or how many of the sharks had attacked, but four fatalities at one location in such a short timespan were enough to ignite a new reputation for the shark as the demon fish. It's a perfect fit, too. Having a big mouth, multiple rows of sharp teeth, and concrete skin while being always submersed in water is a fast track to driving fear in the hearts of all.

But that's still by far the tightest concentration of recorded shark fatalities in the US. Maybe there could be a lot more out there in the world that go completely unnoticed? The thing is, fatal shark attacks are pretty hard to come by. The key word is fatal. It's not to say that shark attacks never happen; it's just that it's worth bringing up that even for all the recent shark attacks that have occurred in New York recently, no fatalities have turned up thus far as of writing this. Though they look to be sand sharks, which are out of the pool of the usual killers - tiger sharks, bull sharks, and great whites.

The Jersey Shore attacks of 1916 were also likely caused by multiple sharks, from what I know. This is in contrast to Jaws, which seems to make it clear that it's all just one shark's doing. At that point, it becomes ridiculous. Even with some guidance from marine biologists, the end result of Jaws is that it exaggerates the nature and frequency of shark attacks.

Remember, when you're making a shark movie, you're not inventing one of Cthulhu's spawns. You're representing a real life animal. In my opinion, a film should portray them with a great deal of respect, not masking them as mindless flesh-hunting monsters. Films should be faithful to what they are like; perhaps it ought to be the most raw case of accurately portraying the source material. All humans are stupid and impressionable, and the suspension of disbelief can have negative consequences in the wrong minds. It could very well inspire some people to go out and kill sharks... and it probably has, which in turn requires stronger conservation efforts from the other side.

Sharks generally don't go after humans, unless any aggressive ones turn up or the conditions are ideal for feeding. This is an oversimplification, of course; even a minor injury caused by a shark is not something to be taken lightly. You must always accept the risk of a bite if you decide to jump into salt water. Stay sharp, don't be careless, and never go alone!

If someone were to ask me about something in the ocean that's terrifying, my first answer probably wouldn't be a shark. It would be the box jellyfish. A few species reportedly have the deadliest venom of any creature, and I recall reading one excerpt suggesting they can kill a grown man in as little as four minutes, burning up the body like hell!

I suppose a shark movie in the theater without any mortal conflict probably would be boring... but that's why it would be perfect. Just make a three hour long film of some diver and a few sharks just kind of being there. Instant classic.

Orca: The Killer Whale

My hunger is more important than your life. That sort of carnal mind described in Jaws held a very strong appeal for other directors to go and cash in on the renewed shark craze, creating more new dumb beasts that follow the same philosophy. My favorite one is Jurassic Shark.

There's one such movie that looks like another one of them at first glance. When I first heard of the movie Orca, I overlooked it. The trailer gave me the impression that it was nothing more than a movie about an aquatic menace that makes fresh kills. But if that's the idea you've got, you need to drop it as soon as possible, because Orca is completely different.

Right in the heart of the shark fright, this movie took a much more forward-thinking approach. The titular animal is immediately established not as a force of terror, but something that enjoys a very lively life in a closely bonded community of its own kind. The movie holds up the orca with great respect, describing it as a highly intelligent aquatic mammal wielding a complex form of communication and a vast array of strong emotions.

An ignorant fisherman disregards these details and goes out to hunt an orca for big money. This is where the "monster" factor in this movie gets really interesting. Who is the monster? If big jaws came lunging towards your legs to pull you in, gut instinct would tell you it's the orca, but the boat's crew struck first, without provocation. The whole scene is really shocking; after the female orca is shot and reeled on deck, she forces out a failed birth as her mate watches in total agony.

This mate would go on to initiate a series of brutal attacks not just on the crew, but the village this fisherman lived at as well. It sits at the opposite end of a mindless carnal beast - a fully conscious being that's gone mad with grief, seeking nothing more than vengeance in the hopes to mend his broken soul after losing his ultimate treasures.

It's portrayed in an extremely anthropomorphic manner. This orca starts off wrecking a small boat - something that's doable, and coincidentally has occurred around the same time as the New York shark attacks. (Are sharks and orcas CONSPIRING???) But then he goes off and blows up an entire portion of the village simply by breaking a pipe, and breaches around like he knew how to do it, and then he knocks down a house partially standing over water! Now, that is really pushing it... that's not something orcas do so willfully.

At least you can understand why he's doing it, but in reality, there's a lot of controversy over what's caused some orcas to start ramming boats recently. The great fantasy we all dream of is that they have been organizing a revolution against all the assholes that have fucked them over for centuries. While there is the possibility that trauma may have motivated the attacks, it could also be something more anticlimactic, like nothing more than goofing off. Quit pissing on my delight, I want an orca uprising!

To further anthropomorphize the orca, the good marine biologist lady serves as a messenger to the very dumb and bad fisherman... sort of. She tells him that the orca specifically wants to fight him, and will keep wrecking and killing shit until only one of them stand. She later admits that she was just making guesswork based on the orca's actions, though she turned out to be right either way. It's pretty silly how it all comes together, but it does push the monster dynamic yet further. This orca, going as crazy as he did, could've just executed the fisherman in a leap of faith and be done with it, fully willing to beach himself. Yet he started a fire and killed several people who had nothing to do with the murder of his mate. It reiterates the question, who is the monster?

The real genius of Orca compared to other aquatic monster movies is that it doesn't focus on making you afraid to go in the water. It's designed to rip your heart in half. By the end of the movie, not much is gained for either end. Two of nature's greatest forces clashed in a battle of willpower, but after all that, life basically went on without them. This movie has really stuck with me since I first watched it, and was one of the driving factors behind my own writings involving a conflict between cetaceans and some other force. Orca is the furthest thing from a Jaws ripoff. It's more like a subset of Moby Dick that plays out like a classical tragedy.

The soundtrack was composed by the late Ennio Morricone, of The Ecstasy of Gold fame. It really completes this movie, perfectly punctuating what it's like to be an orca, and the despair felt on both sides. I like to quote a term Hisayoshi Ogura coined going by "orchestra sickness" where soundtrack is just being orchestral for the sake of it, but when someone like Morricone actually knows how to create orchestral scores... man, does it really pack a punch. It's a painful kind of beautiful. Coming across this soundtrack by mere chance was what got me to watch Orca in the first place.

Unfortunately, it doesn't seem this movie had so much of a widespread impact as Jaws. Because of its unfair reputation, it's been relegated to the backburner, only maintaining a minor cult following over the decades. It's sad to see, really. Even though Orca exaggerated the worst of humanity and applied it to a big dolphin as Jaws exaggerated the fearsome traits of sharks, the former was sort of a visionary. It didn't want to demonize an animal as anything else would have, but it suffered from bad marketing which horribly misrepresented what it was about. Many years later, a different, much friendlier movie going by Free Willy would hit the screens and inspire kids to chip in to releasing captive cetaceans.

Much like with this movie, I also used to overlook cetaceans completely. My family dragged me over to SeaWorld a couple of times in 1997 and 1999, and I never really cared about what was going on in the orca exhibitions... I guess apart from wanting to go in the pool. Oh god... you know what would've happened then? It wouldn't go anywhere as far as the orcas getting shot, but I'm sure it would've had everyone flailing in a panicked chaos.

I pretty much ignored them for the longest time, but a long and complicated chain of events changed my mind. I guess one of them involved watching one or a few videos about the ethics of orca captivity. Even if I didn't believe them at the time, they stuck in the back of my mind. They mercilessly challenged the arrogance of running dolphin shows, conveying that cetaceans aren't fish. You can't exactly put them in tanks and expect them to be all chilled out like fish at the hospital lobby. Over the years, I started learning more about cetaceans, and it's become clear to me that they deserve a lot more dignity than they've been given for much of the time humanity has interacted with them.

We've come a long way from a once bitter relationship with them 150 years ago, where they were seen as nothing more than natural resources. There is still much work to be done, though, as much as we've yet to fully move past prejudices of each other. As the movie Orca first premiered, plenty of commercial cetacean exhibition centers were popping up, including the aforementioned SeaWorld.

For a good few decades, these brought in shittons of dollars, but some people recognized that these places were actually terrible for orcas. For one, they're used to reading their surroundings using echolocation in the vast ocean, but the tanks they're put in are tiny in comparison. The sounds of nothingness thereby reflect back to them in a cramped space, which can slowly deteriorate their minds - especially when you factor in their highly sensitive hearing.

It's not just that one day, Blackfish suddenly aired on TV and made everyone flip to being against dolphin shows. People have been trying to get the message across for a very long time, and only more recently have the commoners began to turn on these unethical shows.

The one case that really stuck to me involved Tokitae, who had been captured in her childhood to perform at Miami Seaquarium. Stunningly, she's survived for 50 years in such an atrociously small tank, which suggests a clear determination to one day finally reunite with her pod. Now, she may be finally getting her chance, thanks to a change in ownership at the company.

Even then, other concerns have sprung up about her release, due to the infections she's accumulated in captivity which could spread to her pod. It's going to be a much tougher process than it would have been before, but I really want to see the day Tokitae can reunite with her relatives. Even if it only lasts a minute before instant death strikes somehow, at least it'll be less traumatic than them having no chance of seeing her again.

If humans have been able to develop a sincere connection with cetaceans in captivity, however, couldn't they also do the same with those that are free? As it turns out, that's also happened before. A wild orca referred to as Luna was separated from his pod, and in his isolation, he seeked human companionship to fill in that void. It's a delight to see, but due to some serious carelessness, it was also his undoing, as he was killed by a tugboat propeller - putting into question whether they should really be together.

As the cold relations thawed, so too did humanity gain a better understanding of cetaceans over the last few decades. Despite being so different, we may share more traits than previously thought. It's certainly not going to be one to one on everything, but there are enough parallels that could bring up the question... how would orcas react to the movie Orca?

I'm sure one day, something will be figured out, and we will ascend together...

Psychic dolphin telecommunication call immediately


flatrute - July 12, 2023 at 01:27 AM

I did not expect to see a movie impression here :bugfix_delight: and it is on brand with the site too :kugee16: Movies are more of jams of my sister though :bugfix_discontent: Nonetheless I hardly care about Jaws aside from time to time references in anime arts I looked at everyday and Orca seems like something I could watch with her someday for some deep thoughts...

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