East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

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A boy and his shark

MV5BNGU4ZWQ0YWMtMjI2My00YmJmLWFjNDAtM2U1NThlYTAyMzkzXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyODcwODg0OQ@@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,388,1000_AL_It was because of my friend Lucy, that is growing restless while we wait for The Meg to hit the screens.
She did a post on an online magazine about shark movies, and she mentioned something that crawled back from my memory like a celluloid ghost – Ti-Koyo e il suo pescecane, a 1962 movie by Folco Quilici, known in the English-speaking world as Tiko and the Shark.
I had very vague recollections of the film, that I saw sometimes in the early ‘70s, when I was 7 or 8 years old.

I checked out Wikipedia for more info about the movie, and found a snippet of the original review, published in 1962 by La Stampa, the daily newspaper of the city where I grew up.

With its fairytale background, the film often has an intoxicating airiness, a pungent kindness; but it could and should become saturated with only the friendship with the shark, as a symbol of an escape from time. Instead, it gives the protagonist the second company of a beautiful little Chinese woman, who for love of the beautiful boy embraces the wild life. This is a coup out of Tarzan; Quilici charged too much the spectacular side of his film proposing a consortium man – woman – shark, really utopian for those who know the true female character. Just like he abused monologues.

The bit about the true female character and its connoisseurs, plus the snub aimed at Tarzan, convinced me that I needed to rewatch the movie, and write a post about it. Continue reading

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Not just another shark movie

forty_seven_meters_down_ver3Nothing better than a good thriller on a hot summer night.
Thanks to my friend Lucy I discovered In the Deep, which is most certainly not just another shark movie.

It’s been long debated how much damage the success of Jaws has done to the marine ecosystem, reinforcing the myht of the evil shark and basically providing justification for people that wanted to kill the evil shark to make soup of its fins.
For certain, Spielberg’s movie established a standard “monster” of modern cinema.
There’s dozens of shark movies out there, some very good, some ok, a lot of then simply horrible.
In the Deep – also known as 47 meters down – is one of the very good ones. Continue reading

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Shark Attack

Steven Spielberg’s 1975 movie Jaws was one of the movies that changed the game, and the highest grossing movie of its time.
I was too young to go and see it in a cinema – although some of my pals did sneak in and emerge later from the darkness of the movie hall with tales of horror and wonder.
Today, I like to watch Jaws every time a TV channel runs it again.

And yet, if as a movie-goer and a fan of action thrillers I love Jaws, as a scientist I always felt the shark facts in the film leave more than something to be desired.

Ellis_SharkAttack-lowresShark Attack, a quick-read, fact-filled pamphlet by noted biologist Richard Ellis, published by Open Road Media, aims at setting the record straight, providing an ample overview of actual shark attacks – including those that inspired the original novel from which the Spielberg movie was made – and a passionate discussion of what sharks are really like, and what a shark attack is in reality.

But the booklet is not only a debunking of the 1975 movie.
This is a condensed introduction to the life and biology of the shark, its interaction with marine ecosystems and with humans.

It’s clear, concise, fun, filled with great images.
It does not detract from the enjoyment of the movie – and provides a further layer to the viewing.