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Jaws and the sound of dread and wonder

July 8, 2014, 04:38 AM

One of my college film professors used to begin each quarter’s class with a demonstration: He’d play the opening scene from Jaws, and the opening scene from Ordinary People, but with the soundtracks reversed. Set to John Williams’ Jaws score, Ordinary People’s scene-setting shots of upper-middle-class suburbia came off as ominous, rather than lyrical and elegiac. And set to Pachelbel’s Canon, Jaws’ scene of Chrissie Watkins getting eaten alive by a shark looked like water ballet.

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