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Film Studies 101
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The Unsung Heroes Of Jaws
Costume designers! Stunt men! Poster designers! We salute you….

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The Unsung Heroes Of Jaws | Roger Kastel (Artist)
Roger Kastel (Artist)

Roger Kastel was working as a New York illustrator when he was commissioned by Bantam books to do the paperback cover for Peter Benchley’s novel Jaws. As research, Kastel went to New York’s Natural History museum and took photos of Great White exhibits that were lying on easels for cleaning. With his shark image clear in his mind, Kastel took five minutes at the end of a photo shoot for Good Housekeeping to place the model onto a stool and get her to do an approximation of the front crawl.

Impressed by the cover, Universal purloined the Kastel’s work for the movie poster — Bantam books chief Oscar Dystel gave it to the filmmakers for free, losing out on millions of dollars — and it quickly became iconic, riffed on by cartoonists to represent USSR-USA relations, the presidential elections (Gerard Ford vs. Ronald Reagan), rising inflation and the energy crisis. Yet apart from being ripe for interpretation, the poster is also imbued with subtleties — note how the J of the Jaws looks like a fishing hook. Kastel proved to be no one hit wonder: he also produced the beautiful Gone With The Wind poster for The Empire Strikes Back.

To see more of Roger Kastel's work visit www.rogerkastel.com

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