Few themes are as iconic as the one from the thriller movie Jaws. Earning legendary Hollywood composer John Williams his second Oscar, the ominous ‘dun dun dun’ tune that we hear in the 1975 flick would go down in history as the ultimate shark score, haunting our dreams, and making all of us nervous about stepping into the sea for years to come.
However, it turns out when he first heard Williams’ theme for the acclaimed ’70s horror movie; director Steven Spielberg thought it was a joke. In a making-of Jaws DVD featurette, the filmmaker explained how he had pictured a much different sound for the killer fish instead of the two terrifying chords Williams played for him instead.
“I expected to hear something kind of weird and melodic, something tonal, but eerie; something of another world, almost like outer space under the water,” Spielberg said. “And what he played me instead, with two fingers on the lower keys, was ‘dun dun, dun dun, dun dun.’ And at first, I began to laugh. He had a great sense of humour, and I thought he was putting me on.”
However, as Williams would later tell the director, those two chords were no joke. After playing it for Spielberg a couple more times, the director was convinced, and as you can say, the rest was history. “It suddenly seemed right,” Spielberg shared. “And John found the signature for the entire movie.”
The Jaws’ theme would earn Williams an Academy Award and has since been ranked as the sixth-greatest score of all time by the American Film Institute. It has become a classic tune for crafting a sense of danger and the feeling of being chased down relentlessly by a mysterious threat. In short, we are happy that Spielberg ended up taking Williams seriously since it is hard to imagine Jaws without the signature ‘dun duns’.
Since Jaws, Spielberg is back in the Oscar’s sightline again, this time for his musical West Side Story. The Oscars will take place on March 27 2022, and will be available to watch on Sky Cinema in the UK, and on ABC in the US.