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19 December 2011

Jaws (1975) [70's Marathon] 11#

Directed by: Steven Spielberg
Genre: Mystery & Suspense, Action & Adventure, Drama
Country: USA
Runtime: 130 Minutes
It is about time I finally sit down and properly watch this film. What can I say about it? Undoubtedly, this is truly an exciting film and a landmark for cinema. The horrific and thrilling idea of a killer shark, threatening and vicious; scaring people to go in the water is simply amazing. And with Steven Spielberg, Hollywood hotshot, on the director’s chair he proves as an excellent director in the industry. Undoubtedly, one of the greats with such great films behind him, and this is no exception.


One early summer night on fictional Atlantic resort Amity Island, Chrissie decides to take a moonlight skinny dip while her friends party on the beach. Yanked suddenly below the ocean surface, she never returns. When pieces of her wash ashore, Police Chief Brody (Roy Scheider) suspects the worst, but Mayor Vaughn (Murray Hamilton), mindful of the lucrative tourist trade and the approaching July 4th holiday, refuses to put the island on a business-killing shark alert. 

Soon after, Brody calls in ichthyologist Hooper (Richard Dreyfuss) to investigate. Not long after they discover they are after a great white they call for Quint (Robert Shaw), the only man on the island willing to go after the beast. They set on the trip to kill the sea predator and won’t turn back until they do. 

The performances were nothing short of A-class. Roy Scheider plays Martin Brody, the head of police who cares for the safety of his town’s people. Scheider played him like a saint with his character resonating realism. On their voyage, two other great actors accompany him: Robert Shaw and Richard Dreyfuss. Shaw as the cranky and rather salty middle-aged man was simply excellent. From the first moments, we meet him in that crows of people concerned about the beach closing to seeing him on the boat voyage to kill the shark he was an excellent character. 

Our third character who boards the vessel with a mission is Dreyfuss as the intelligent ichthyologist shark researcher, Hooper. These three characters combine create a great contrast. Scheider is a loving father and chief of police, Shaw, the salty old man who has had many shark-killing adventures and Dreyfuss, a middle-class nerd who loves sharks. These binary oppositions sum up a great entertaining film. 

The music is definitely unforgettable, and almost everyone now knows the Jaws theme. That great dramatic build up and suggestion that the shark is coming has been a memorable tune for quite some time. Not to mention, the script was solid and Spielberg’s direction follows it with finesse.  Although the film is an adaptation of the best-selling novel by Peter Benchley, the cinematic art form is what makes this film so wonderful. The dialogue between the characters was sincere and the way the story unfolds was just right. It is not until we are 45 minutes into the film that we see the beastly shark and Spielberg excellently captures the fear for the audience.

The camera work is one thing I could not help but enjoy. The film has many underwater shots and the ways they are done were very clever. At the start of the film, we have a shot that looks up at the woman who is swimming in the ocean, and it appears to be from the perspective of the shark, which soon viciously eats her. 

From a technical point of view, for 1975 the animatronic shark was extremely well done. Although considered looking ‘fake’ to today’s CGI standards (1hich to some extent I agree it does), seeing that big animatronic shark taking a bite out of the boat is quite a moment to see and I am sure audiences at the time were very  surprised. It is not often when you see Sharks in films which is what gives this film such a magnificent response. Spielberg is considered one of the best blockbuster filmmakers, and this is one that proves that. Most blockbusters now are lifeless, but many of Spielberg’s films have whimsical and lively qualities. The huge animatronic shark struck terror into audiences at the time and seeing it now is still quite alarming, especially on the finale. 

There are many films similar to “Jaws” involving sea predators that came up after this film, but none have reached the greatness of this film. There is “Deep Blue Sea”, “Lake Placid”, “Open Water” and not to mention the three rotten sequels to “Jaws”.

“Jaws” is a special kind of horror film. It is more of a thriller, and it does not rely on countless gore and big shocks around the corner. It comes down to simple fear for other animals- the fear of going into the water. It is why the film is so renowned today. The film is definitely thrilling and does not leave you bored. Whether you’re seeing the shark attacking humans or seeing the legendary scene were Hooper and Quint show each other’s scars; the film runs through beautifully with many iconic scenes.

“Jaws” has undoubtedly left a mark on cinema. With as I said, the theme being extremely well known even today, people are still discovering this film and loving it. It is one of the highlights of the 70’s for its technical achievement and fear factor for showing audiences a different style of filmmaking. In addition, this is one of the most effective thrillers ever made strikes terror in well-written masterpiece and has definitely aged well.If you are looking for a thrilling and suspenseful film, this is the one to see.

My Rating: 9.5/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 100% Avg: 8.9/10- 38 reviews

5 comments:

  1. terrific review of a classic. you missed out the pirahna films in listing the sea predator films

    ReplyDelete
  2. A great movie and I give a ton of credit to Shaw for his performance. The Indianapolis speech was mesmerizing and I loved his reaction when the shark takes down all three barrels. The camera shot on that was great, too.

    ReplyDelete
  3. The miraculous thing about this film is that it doesn't age. It still feels as terrifying now (and after dozens of viewings) as it did back when I first saw it. You know you are in the presence of a genuine classic when it doesn't lose any of its impact!

    ReplyDelete
  4. As a child, Spielberg faced difficulty reconciling being an Orthodox Jew with the perception of him by other children he played with. "It isn't something I enjoy admitting," he once said, "but when I was 7, 8, 9 years old, God forgive me, I was embarrassed because we were Orthodox Jews. I was embarrassed by the outward perception of my parents' Jewish practices. I was never really ashamed to be Jewish, but I was uneasy at times.

    ReplyDelete
  5. heisatthemovies11 April 2012 at 21:22

    This may be my favorite film of all time!

    ReplyDelete

 

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