HIGH SCHOOL COLUMN: Just when you thought it was safe ..

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Recently, as film studies students, we have been studying the Spielberg classic Jaws and how it elicits such strong emotional responses in viewers.

It coincides with recent reports of a young film-maker who was killed by a possible great white shark off the coast of New Zealand.

It made us think about how we take the relative safety of our own coastline for granted. I mean, what is the worst that could happen if you dip your feet into the cold North Sea? A jellyfish attack? Hardly life-threatening. A bit of numbness and cold in your body? We’re supposed to be hardy northerners, not wimps!

But have you ever thought what else is living in our seas? Yeah, I know what you’re thinking, they are safe. The only thing we really need to worry about is the temperature.

Adam Strange, 46, was attacked and killed off Muriwai Beach, near Auckland. Onlookers have been reported as saying the sea was covered in blood, mirroring those infamous scenes from Spielberg’s movie. It was the first shark attack in New Zealand since the 70s, and experts are claiming it may have been caused by warmer waters attracting the predators.

Maybe this news will make you think twice about praying for warmer weather.

Spielberg’s classic taps into our emotional and primeval responses through the fear of the unknown, water and powerful killing machines that are seemingly unstoppable against the relative puniness of man. Jaws is one of those films which affects everyone who sees it. We all recognise the famous music score and I bet most of us have ‘sung’ it while pretending to chase friends or family.

Sarah Brown, Year 13, said: “Jaws has always frightened me, even though I know how Spielberg is manipulating us. It’s made me not want to go in the water since I first saw the film, many years ago. I know it’s ridiculous, but it works on me at some basic primeval level, so I am actually scared of shark attacks, even on the beach at Alnmouth. It’s silly, but I can’t help it.”

Perhaps we need to thank our lucky stars that we do have such cold seas. Jaws is just a film and shark attacks are thankfully still very rare. Remember, the thing we’ll probably need to be most wary of in Northumberland is freezing off our extremities. DUH-duh, DUH-duh…

Jess Lawton and Johnny Dickinson, Year 13

Duchess’s Community High School, Alnwick