‘Under Paris’ And ‘Jaws’ Comparison: Is The Netflix Film A Remake Of The Spielberg Classic?


Under Paris is essentially a remake of Jaws. Everything from its premise to the characteristics of its protagonists and antagonists is quite similar to those of the Jaws universe. But the subtle differences in the outcomes of some of the plot points and the nature of the action sequences make Under Paris less of a remake of Jaws and more of a spiritual legacy sequel to the Steven Spielberg blockbuster. Regardless of their similarities and differences, I do think that Under Paris is the best shark film since Jaws. So, let’s talk about them.

Spoiler Alert

The Inciting Incidents

The opening acts of Under Paris and Jaws are quite different. The Netflix film establishes the threatening nature of Lilith and the connection between her and Sophia. Spielberg used the opening to show the merciless and stealthy nature of the shark, which was followed by the terrified reactions to its victim’s mangled body from the authorities. We do get a version of this incident in the French film too, when the authorities find the disfigured carcass of a homeless man on the shores of the Seine. Jaws had a scene where Hooper and Brody waded into the perilous waters to get a glimpse of the threat they were facing and found the remains of a boat and the dismembered head of the shark’s victim. In Under Paris, this happens twice. Mika inspects the wreckage of a submerged car, sees the bitemarks, and feels Lilith’s presence. The French police do the same while inspecting the dam or gate that separates the river from the ocean, and they get an idea of Lilith’s size and speed.

The Mayors

The mayors from Jaws and Under Paris are one and the same. Their aversion to common sense is astounding, and it’s truly wild how realistic it seems, even though one is from 1975 and another is from 2024. The mayor of the town of Amity Island wanted to ignore the shark attack because he wanted his beaches to be full on July 4. The mayor of Paris ignored the shark attack and didn’t shut down people’s access to the Seine because she didn’t want to cancel the international triathlon competition. Nothing major happened to the mayor of Amity Island. He was humiliated by Brody, but that didn’t teach him a lesson because he kept saying that he was in the right. The mayor of Paris directly experiences the consequences of her actions as Lilith sets off a string of explosions, thereby causing a flood that seemingly kills her. I don’t believe she died, though. I think she will live to tell the tale and learn nothing from the events of the film because that’s what politicians are like.

The Massacres

The shark in Jaws didn’t have a huge body count. A few people here and a few people there, and one dog in the middle—that’s about it. And yet, he managed to instill a sense of dread that prevented people from going near a water body in real life. In comparison to that, Under Paris’ Lilith is insane. She surpasses the body count of the shark from Jaws in the opening act itself and then keeps adding to it. The shark in Jaws made two public appearances, and so did Lilith. When the shark in Jaws showed up near the beaches of Amity Island, he ate a kid, gave a man an unwarranted leg amputation, and caused a stampede-like situation. Lilith and her child do something similar in the catacombs of Paris, as people push each other into the sharks’ mouths or cause some people to drown in an attempt to save themselves. And then there’s the finale, where Lilith gobbles up a bunch of swimmers partaking in the international marathon. It’s a delightfully bloody sight.

The Climaxes

The climactic moments of Jaws and Under Paris do end with massive explosions, but the build-up to them and the eventual fallout of said explosions are quite different. The second half of Jaws was a slow-burn as Quint, Brody, and Hooper baited the shark and used a scuba tank to blow it to smithereens. While Quint died, Brody and Hooper swam their way back to Amity Island. It was a happy ending. The explosion in Under Paris causes a flood, thereby killing millions of people, and turns the city into Lilith and her children’s hunting ground. Sophia and Adil do survive the whole ordeal, but the future is really bleak for them. They have failed to kill Lilith, and, on top of that, they have unleashed the wrath of sharks like Lilith all over the globe. Even if they somehow managed to kill every mutant shark in existence, the death toll caused by their failure is going to pinch them for as long as they live. Look, I haven’t watched the sequels to Jaws, so I’m not going to judge the futures of Brody and Hooper based on them. Those movies don’t exist for me.

The Metaphors

Both Jaws and Under Paris showed that technology doesn’t really work in the face of a villainous shark, who basically represents the wrath of nature. That said, while the shark from Jaws was a loner and terrorized the humans by himself, Lilith did the same with her family. Yes, Lilith’s mutation is caused by the pollution of the seas and the rivers, thereby making the whole film a metaphor for the dangers of climate change. But Lilith’s ability to produce children without mating, which is called parthenogenesis and is a real thing that some sharks can do in real life, while seamlessly switching between saltwater and freshwater, seems like a warning to mankind that humans are the only species who won’t be able to adapt if things don’t go in their favor, environmentally speaking. And, to be honest, we deserve to be wiped out due to climate change. We have doomed this planet, and it should be reclaimed by the animals we turn into soup and serve in restaurants.

The Gender Ratio

One of the most amazing things about Under Paris is the gender ratio in terms of its characters. The women in the French film populate the roles of the protagonists as well as the antagonists. There’s Sophia, Mika, Ben, Caro, Angele, the mayor, and more. In comparison to that, Jaws had women in the roles of wives or grieving parents. Under Paris has a lesbian couple in the form of Mika and Ben, while Jaws is primarily filled with heterosexual couples. Of course, Spielberg’s film is a product of its time, and it’s heartening to see that its spiritual French remake hasn’t emulated its testosterone-fueled casting. Yes, yes, I know that the men of Amity Island are a commentary on masculinity, but it’s always great to see men being criticized without diminishing the role of women. By the way, the men in Under Paris are great. They are flawed and determined, and most importantly, none of them are misogynistic. I know that that probably doesn’t reflect the real-life dynamics between a man and a woman. However, if movies don’t inspire change in real life, then what’s even the point of making any kind of art?

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Pramit Chatterjee
Pramit Chatterjee
Pramit loves to write about movies, television shows, short films, and basically anything that emerges from the world of entertainment. He occasionally talks to people, and judges them on the basis of their love for Edgar Wright, Ryan Gosling, Keanu Reeves, and the best television series ever made, Dark.

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