Jaws, we all know that is isn’t really about the shark, it is about the people. Two of those most beloved people are Amity Police Chief, Martin Brody and Oceanographer, Matt Hooper. They have quite a connection in the film, so much so that you could even call it something of a bromance. There, we just did.
They are like shooting star crossed brothers, united by the shark. Although they are very different people with very different backgrounds they have the commanality of the hunt for the shark but also the fact that they are both outsiders on an island more interested in ‘not being on welfare the whole winter’ than stopping a killer rogue shark. And that brings the pair even closer together.
Of course, that’s a huge difference to the book, where Hooper was having an affair with Ellen and he got chomped in the cage scene. The Brody and Hooper in the book are (largely) at odds with one another, in fact none of the characters can be described as nice. That was something that Spielberg was keen to rectify as even he said that the characters were all so horrible that he ended up rooting for the shark.
In the film though, things are happily a lot different. Right from the off there really is a click when Hooper and Brody first meet in the office on the dock.
Brody and Hooper inhabit very different worlds, one is a loving father to two sons and a bit of an every man, struggling to keep on top of his world of work and family , whilst he the other is footloose and fancy free, confident and assertive.
Despite sharing the frame, Brody and Hooper can also be often found to be at the opposites of the shot, again showcasing their differences and togetherness at the same time.
They are from a different class, Brody is from the streets (not too fah from the cah) of New York and Hooper is probably more used to the Hamptons. This is probably best exemplified when Brody asks how much Hopper is worth, he retorts ‘my self or the whole family?’
Even on the Orca they aren’t equal, Brody stuck on chumming duties whilst Hooper gets to drive the boat, much to Brody’s chagrin.
And of course, one hates the water and the other has spent his life in it.
Although Brody and Hooper first met in the office near the dock, shared scenes with the trussed up Tiger shark (a whaaat?) and the autopsy it feels like the dinner scene at the Brody house is their first date.
Despite Ellen being there it is about the two men, we learn more about their pasts, their likes and their fears - so far so date-ish. Even right down to Hooper bringing a bottle of red and white to the house. Of course it is from there that the two move onto the main course and go and cut open the tiger shark by torch light. A truly bonding experience for the pair. A relationship cemented by the finale of pretzel eating and Ben Gardner head finding. As first dates go it’s a pretty memorable one.
Friends to the end
After Brody has killed the shark, Hooper surfaces and they are closer than ever - brought together by their shared survival. In fact they hardly have to communicate with each other
As they swim their way to shore, you can’t help but wonder what would happen next in their friendship. After an experience like that you would think it would be one for life and that Hopoper would make a return in Jaws 2, wouldn’t that have been something? Instead he cgets a voiceless cameo on tyeh other end of a phone talking to Ellen Brody from the Auroa. Broday and Hooper may have been the odd couple of Jaws, but they worked together. Its justa shame that this was the only time we saw the pair of them in action together, whether that be in Jaws sequel or Scheider and Dreyfuss together again. Hey, it worked for Newman and Redford, Wilder and Pryor and Matthau and Lemmon.