Day 9 of 31
Jaws (Horror, Thriller, Adventure, Drama, 1975) (15) D: Steven Spielberg W: Peter Benchley (book) C: Roy Schneider, Robert Shaw, Richard Dreyfus, Lorraine Gary, Murray Hamilton. 2h 04m. USA.
Synopsis : When a gigantic great white shark begins to menace the small island community of Amity, a police chief, a marine scientist and grizzled fisherman set out to stop it.
TAGLINE : It was the perfect feeding ground.
The ultimate watery creature feature, breaking water on new waves of giant animal horror movies. Without this classic gem we honestly wouldn’t have Sharknado (2013) and I don’t know if that’s a good or bad thing? It’s pretty impressive that Jaws does manage to still hold up even though lots of the inspired films do not. It kicked off Spielberg’s career in monster creatures and in a host of summer blockbuster movies.
Heavily inspired by tales of the high sea and furious monsters, Jaws develops the age old stories that many a seasoned sailor has told, and hammers it in our modern memories by using the best animatronics and effects to scare the shit out of a generation and to make even the bravest man stay firmly on the sands. Unlike the epic Moby Dick where it was man tracking beast the tales have turned and the beast has the upper hand.
Nothing grabs the audience more than “Man against Gigantic Flesh Eating Beast”, and nothing is more scarier than a huge shark with the basic instinct of a… well shark! Eat first ask questions later. We have always feared sharks for their randomness but suddenly we’re face to tooth with a beast that is actually tracking us and seems to know our next move.
Starting out with an iconic dark water kill the film slows right down to a halt almost as it introduces its cast, then slowly as the shark starts picking off he islanders things get a little more interesting. Then almost as if the film was in two halves the final half center’s on three men in a little tug boat are out at sea, and it’s agreed they certainly do need a bigger boat.
Brody is very much a man out of his own waters, coming from the city to the small island he’s in an alien environment and being afraid of water it doesn’t make much sense as to why he’s on an island but then he finds himself on a boat in the sea fighting a massive foe. It really is a series of worst nightmares.
It’s notable to mention that there is no human interaction as to why this shark suddenly started acting all shark. The other films of the times try to explain these bizarre occurrences by radioactivity as in Tentacles, or human intervention like Orca. but Jaws just goes super shark for no reason and that makes it twice as scary because fuck it we can’t see this shit coming.The film for it’s time had amazing technical achievements, no one had made a realistic shark attack like this before, although I can’t mention this without bringing Zombie (1979) to your attention for one of the most impressive shark/zombie scenes ever.
The movie plays homage to Orca (1977) but naming the boat after the movie, it was a big influence in getting this book made into a film. There are some plot holes at the beginning of the movie, if you watch the beginning carefully you’ll notice that it switches between midnight and dawn constantly. But most of the plot holes and sheer nonsense that is involved in jaws is often shaken from your mind after you’ve had your wits shaken out of you after the next scare.
Delivering a packed punch with the jump scares and natural horrors of the sea, it’s also delivers a simple yet ridiculously memorable score including the da dum… da dum… i won’t go on because you’ll be humming it all day.. but it’s simply amazing what a few notes can do.
The acting is pretty good throughout, two main characters steal the show, the main scaredy cat Brody who ends up so paranoid he’s almost afraid of his own shadow but also mimics the audience’s sense of fear too and the tough hombre Quint who is the manly man’s hero of the film and my personal all time hero of all time. I don’t need Ironman I need Quint! Honestly I don’t know how I’d be able to call him, maybe by chucking a rum bottle into the sea but that’s the man I’d call if I needed help. Robert Shaw does an excellent job as fleshing out Quints amazing back story, to be honest all three guys give us a solid and tangible and human characters, we understand where each of them is coming from.Spielberg was riding the wave from Duel (1971) where a man was suddenly preyed upon by any known truck driver, yes I know there were a few TV movies and Sugarland Express (1974) but there is a lot of similarities between Jaws and Duel. There’s a main innocent good but who suddenly finds himself tracked by an unknown psychopath that’s much bigger than him and seems pretty unstoppable.
Ultimately we’re exposed to a whole new idea by the end of the movie, Man isn’t at the top of the food chain, and we’re certainly on the menu for a lot of creatures. It really does drive home how vulnerable we really are. Jaws kinda kicks us in the ribs all the way through as the mayor who is constantly trying to save face and money by allowing his people to be shark food. No one is taking the shark too seriously!! apart from the audience we can clearly see the dangers and the corruption of the delightful Vaughn (Murray Hamilton RIP) who does manage to wear the most amazing suits in this film. There is an deep moving scene that really captures this, Brody tries to close the beach, Vaughn intervenes and opens the beach to avoid public outcry a young boy is snapped up for lunch by the shark, his mother in her mourning veil and dark dress slaps Brody in the face for allowing the tragedy to happen in front of Vaughn and Brody looks at him, but takes it like a man while the coward Vaughn does nothing.. It’s a powerful scene, showing just how twisted the system is on Amiety island.
If you have galeophobia you really don’t want to watch this film, on the other hand it might give you one, so it’s worth watching at least once.The film is definitely worth watching again for the second half which has in the most action. Once you’ve enjoyed the back story and build up of island life, you can settle into the action half way through time and time again.
The film works so well because once presented with a foe like this, it’s (tough) human nature to try and protect itself by slaying the beast. Imagine the shark as a dragon and the small island and a village and yes we have seen this story before, but we don’t believe in dragons anymore but we can certainly relate to a shark. What doesn’t work is that lot of the gritty plot lines are missing from the book. I know that Spielberg wanted the film to be more action and directed at the shark but there was a lot more hotel room visits going on that could have easily made it into the film if you get me.
V: Being one of the original big budget shark horror movies and kicking off a HUGE array of films, documentaries and shows, I know that Jaws isn’t all that scary for the modern generation unless you already have a phobia but it still have something deep in it that cannot be ignored. it’s a great action film, with so many references that play out in the many movies to come, iconic to the core it’s one liners score and cult status have enriched the geeks with a trunk load of shirts and key rings. I adore the movie for the characters and their bonding to fight one mighty foe.
Rating – 10/10
R: Rogue (2007), Lake Placid (1999), Deep Blue Sea (1999),