“Smile son of a bitch …!” Sheriff Brody (Roy Scheider) yells at the shark, and shoots the oxygen cylinder that the animal has trapped between its jaws. And the animal explodes. And the movie ends.
“And once we have finished with the beast, Albert Sánchez Piñol will proceed to dissect it,” announces Esteve Rimbau, director of the Filmoteca de Catalunya, after the viewing, last Thursday night, of Steven Spielberg’s 1975 classic. The writer , anthropologist and screenwriter has been summoned to, through his latest book, The elementary structures of the narrative (La Campana), explain that, the structure of the story through one of the films that (along with Moby Dick, The old man and the sea or others) entertainingly analyzes in the book. Shark it is exceptional to demonstrate what Sánchez Piñol calls Papitu and that it is nothing other than “the fundamental structure of any story.” A system that he discovered (“he discovered, he did not invent: it has always been there”, underlines the author of Cold skin) Aristotle and maintains its entire validity.
The novelist explains in his essay that the main elements of the story are a triggering factor, which raises the great question of the novel and generates its first narrative turn, which is the one that, in turn, reflects the conflict of the story and the beginning of the second act. The second narrative turn is the answer to the original question and the entrance to the third and final act. “These three acts govern 95% of novels, movies, series, plays,” says Sánchez Piñol categorically.
“One of the great things about Spielberg is that he masterfully places the trigger at the beginning of the film. What would be murder in Sherlock Holmes, and here is the shark attack on a quiet, paradisiacal island that begins to welcome vacationers ”, says the writer. “The first narrative twist comes next, generated by this factor, and it is the one that raises the conflict, which at the moment is between the police, who is trying to close the beaches, and the mayor, who does not plan to give up tourism.” Sánchez Piñol celebrates seeing this film with such a recent pandemic because the metaphor is not even painted: “The question is: will the beaches close? And the conflict is between morals and capital, between ethics and finances ”. Esteve Rimbau captures it the first time: “In other words, the question may be: will they close Madrid? And the conflict, between Díaz Ayuso and Fernando Simón ”, he launches, amid the laughter of the audience.
In other words, the question may be: will they close Madrid? And the conflict, between Díaz Ayuso and Fernando Simón
Esteve Rimbau, director of the Filmoteca de Cataluña
Another success of Spielberg is to place a MidPoint, a key point in which the question of the novel is changed and intensity is gained: “When Quint (Robert Shaw), Hooper (Richard Dreyfuss) and Brody embark to go after the shark the narrative accelerates tremendously and the conflict becomes, now, between the three men and the beast ”. The question that worries and traps us is: Will they capture the beast?
But it is that in addition, “very difficult thing”, Spielberg puts a second MidPoint. “It is when the three characters are relaxed, chatting inside the boat, at night… and the shark attacks them. The question now is: will the shark kill them? The conflict, more than ever, is between man and beast ”.
Sánchez Piñol loves the movie Shark. You don’t know how many times you’ve seen it. He strips her of all shudder and drama, studies every detail (sequences, music at the right time, photography …), which always contributes to the story and even mocks, with affection, the characters: “Let’s see, the sheriff has so much of poly like any of us, the plate and nothing else. He’s the polar opposite of Dirty Harry! “
Also, beyond improvisations and juicy details of the filming of the film, with real or mechanized sharks, Sánchez Piñol considers that the novel by Peter Benchley on which the film is based, poses the shark as an atonement for sins, nothing to do with the vision that Spielberg gives him. “Novel and film only have Papitu in common,” says the writer. “I have written scripts … that is why I know that the novelist does not usually function as a scriptwriter, because making a story with images is something else.”
I know that the novelist does not usually function as a screenwriter, because making a story with images is something else
Albert Sánchez Piñol
In fact, the author of loser confesses that, now, Shark it slows down. And half of those attending the colloquium agree with him. “Well, when it was released in 1975, nobody was slow,” he remarks. “Because now the rhythms have accelerated. Now we tend to explain more things in less time. But always respecting the narrative structure: even 20-second commercials have their Papitu! “
And that acceleration of the cinematographic rhythms has also influenced the novel, according to Sánchez Piñol: “Nineteenth-century novels had the first narrative turn well ahead of the work, now, either you put it before page 30 or you bore the reader. Even more so in times of zapping and of turbocapitalism ”, he maintains. But far from being a shame, for Sánchez Piñol this is quite a challenge for the author. “Sometimes I want to never die to see how far this acceleration will go in the narrative.”