When an insatiable great white shark terrorizes the townspeople of Amity Island, the police chief, an oceanographer and a grizzled shark hunter seek to destroy the blood-thirsty beast.
A man eating shark is terrorising the holiday island of Amity. Police chief Martin Brody, shark hunter Quint and marine biologist Matt Hooper set sail in the hope of killing the great white monster.
Jaws is responsible for many things, it's responsible for propelling director Steven Spielberg's career into the stratosphere, it was responsible for a downturn in the package holiday trade, and it was responsible for shaping the summer blockbuster release practice's. There are many other things which one doesn't need to bore you with, it's just true to say that Jaws is firmly ensconced in movie history, if one hasn't seen it then one surely knows about it, it is, even today, part of popular culture.
But is it any good? Is it worthy of a long standing reputation as one of the greatest monster movies of all time? Hell yes it is, one or two easily overlooked flaws aside, it busted the box office (world wide) and tapped into a primal fear that resides in the majority of mankind, the unseen that resides in the sea.
Jaws sets out its marker right from the start with a truly shocking and attention grabbing opening sequence, from then on in Spielberg (learning from Hitchcock for sure) tweaks the tension to have the audience living on their nerves, even as character building (by way of Brody's family arc) sedates the pace, we just know that it's all relative to an extension of fear and terror that is around the next corner. After the first victims' remains are found, Brody glances out at the ocean, Spielberg perfectly framing the shot to say so much about what we are about to be witness' to. Jolts and shocks pop up from time to time to help build the unease, whilst Spielberg makes the audience wait before we even see what it is that so coldly and efficiently destroys man. Then it's the claustrophobic switch as our brave protagonists are out at sea on Quint's boat, unaware that the giant menace is now hunting them, eyes as black as death itself.
So many great scenes linger for all time in the memory, the entrance of Quint is a hum dinger, a mournful widow reducing Brody to a stunned realism, the Indianappolis monologue, the bigger boat! Just some of the reasons why I personally love cinema so much. The score from John Williams is as effective as any for the genre and Robert Hoyt's sound team's work furthers the unfolding dread. The cast are superb and uniformly excellent, managing to cast aside technical problems (and genuine resentments at times) to portray this story with verve and a genuine depth of feeling. Yet Roy Scheider (Brody), Robert Shaw (Quint) and Richard Dreyfuss (Hooper) were far from from original choices, Charlton Heston was wanted for the role of Brody, Sterling Hayden and Lee Marvin were both mooted for Quint, and John Voight was Spielberg's preferred choice for Hooper. Whilst Jaws author (and co screen writer here) Peter Benchley was heading for the top by asking for Newman, Redford and McQueen!! Imagine that!
Still it all turned out well in the end because Jaws stands the test of time as one of the best films of its type. No amount of complaining about continuity and a rough looking mechanical shark will ever dim its appeal, even as I revisited it recently for the hundredth time I still got tingles all over my body. So file it alongside King Kong in the pantheon of Monster Movie Masterpieces. 10/10 always, now go enjoy your dip in the ocean.
Zanuck/Brown Productions, Universal Pictures by Steven Spielberg, Peter Benchley, Carl Gottlieb.
Stars: Roy Scheider, Robert Shaw, Richard Dreyfuss, Lorraine Gary.
Genres: Adventure, Thriller
Keywords: based on novel or book beach fishing atlantic ocean bathing shipwreck shark attack police chief ferry boat dying and death animal attack long island dead child skinny dipping shark great white shark dead dog child killed by animal fourth of july severed leg fishing boat animal horror
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