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18th Dec 2022

Steven Spielberg ‘truly regrets’ impact of Jaws on shark population

Charlie Herbert

Steven Spielberg regrets impact of Jaws on shark population

Jaws has received criticism in the past for leading to more trophy hunting of great white sharks in the US

Director Steven Spielberg has said he “truly regrets” the impact that his iconic film Jaws had on the shark population.

The legendary director, known for his many Hollywood blockbusters such as E.T., Schindler’s List and Jurassic Park, was appearing on BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs,

He told host Lauren Laverne that he fears sharks are “mad” at him for “the feeding frenzy of crazy sword fishermen that happened after 1975”.

Jaws, which was nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars and became the highest grossing film of all time until the release of Star Wars two years later, has been criticised in the past for misrepresenting great white sharks and leading to trophy hunting in the US.

Asked how he felt about the sea around his desert island being inhabited by sharks, Spielberg told the programme: “That’s one of the things I still fear.”

Clarifying it was not a fear of being eaten, the director said the impact of his 1975 film on the shark population is something “I truly and to this day regret”.

Jaws tells the story of a great white shark that attacks a US seaside town, which influenced a rise in sports fishing across America.

Jaws won three Oscars, for Best Film Editing, Best Original Dramatic Score, and Best Sound, and was nominated for Best Picture, missing out to One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest (Getty)

Research has suggested the number of large sharks fell along the eastern seaboard of North America in the years following its release.

George Burgess, director of the Florida Program for Shark Research in Gainesville, told the BBC in 2015 that after the release of Jaws, a “collective testosterone rush certainly swept through the east coast of the US.”

He said: “Thousands of fishers set out to catch trophy sharks after seeing Jaws. It was good blue collar fishing.

“You didn’t have to have a fancy boat or gear – an average Joe could catch big fish, and there was no remorse, since there was this mindset that they were man-killers.”

The film was based on the book of the same name, written by Peter Benchley. He often said in later years that he could never write a book like Jaws again, and devoted much of his career to ocean conservation, Smithsonian reports.

Spielberg also discussed his childhood and new semi-autobiographical film, The Fabelmans, on the episode of Desert Island Discs.

He told Laverne that a film based on his own story sent his fear levels “through the roof”.

“I’m a private person that’s going public about and I can’t hide behind somebody else’s authorship or a book or a genre or American history,” he added.

The full interview on Desert Island Discs will air on BBC Radio 4 and BBC Sounds at 11:15 GMT on Sunday.

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