“The Big Jaws Hoax”: 7 years before Spielberg’s film, this other one shocked the public with a big lie – Cinema News

“The Big Jaws Hoax”: 7 years before Spielberg’s film, this other one shocked the public with a big lie – Cinema News
“The Big Jaws Hoax”: 7 years before Spielberg’s film, this other one shocked the public with a big lie – Cinema News

Find out how the movie Shark!, starring Burt Reynolds, used a completely false sensationalist article in its poster.

In 1968, seven years before the mega-hit Jaws, director Samuel Fuller filmed a feature film about sharks with Burt Reynolds on Isla Mujeres, Mexico. However, during filming, a serious accident occurred, which cost a stuntman his life: he was devoured by a shark and, if that wasn’t enough, the footage of his death was left in the film. At least, that’s what the poster said, only the reality is a little less true.

The Collider website recalled information about the film Shark! (which, in the Portuguese version, is also called Shark) and we recap this grim case. It all starts with an unsigned article in LIFE magazine (once one of the leading weekly magazines in the US), published on June 7, 1968, in which the media writes:

“A great white shark appeared, passing through the protective nets spread around the underwater film set. (…) Then, the shark turned to stuntman José Marco, 32 years old, who was [fora das gaiolas que deveriam proteger as equipes], and ripped open his abdomen, spilling blood everywhere. During the fight, the team fired spears twice, without effect, while the shark devoured its victim. It was the screams and banging on the cages that made him escape. Marco died in hospital two hours later.”

When the film was released, the poster partially reproduced the magazine article and showed a drawing of a shark attacking a diver, followed by the slogan: “Shark will tear you apart”.

Furthermore, several photos from the feature film appeared to be identical to images of the tragic incident immortalized by the LIFE report, making the promotion quite frightening.

A real murder included in the film?

In 1969, Dewey Bergman, a journalist for Skin Diver, a magazine specializing in diving, went to Mexico to investigate the veracity of the story. He reported that he received calls from fellow divers who no longer wanted to dive in the area where the incident occurred.

Additionally, concerns about shark attacks on Isla Mujeres have affected the business of reef diving schools in the region.

His article was published in November 1969, a year after the film’s release, with the title “The Great Shark Hoax”. In it, Bergman reconstructed the story, expressing surprise that no Mexican newspaper covered the accident, only the American magazine. He also couldn’t find anyone who had heard about a stuntman being killed by a shark.

LIFE apparently bought the story and photos. When contacted by Bergman, the magazine was forced to admit to the hoax and wrote in a press release:

“What we consider to be a series of highly unusual photos is, in fact, false. Several of our readers, who are sometimes more qualified in this area than our team, have led us to believe this. LIFE investigated this incident without success, except to say that it did not occur on Isla Mujeres.”

Meanwhile, the film continued to use the fake article as propaganda, placing it on another poster with the tagline: “A realistic film becomes all too real,” even though the victim may never have existed. The producers re-edited the film behind the scenes of Samuel Fuller, who disowned it. The same producers re-released it after the success of Steven Spielberg’s Jaws, this time with the title Man-Eater.

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The article is in Portuguese

Tags: Big Jaws Hoax years Spielbergs film shocked public big lie Cinema News



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