176 of 1001 Movies: Jaws (1975)

Jaws is a movie that has honestly aged well. Steven Spielberg is the master at special effects, and the shark in this movie looks real and frightening despite he’s only a mechanical type thing. This was also still in the days when we didn’t always have to see the monster to know that something scary was lurking. Glimpses of the fins, and just seeing blood in the water is enough to build the thrills. You also have one person that the director focuses in on, and shows his tight knit family and kids that adds some sort of reason for the lead character to get serious.

Summary:  When a mysterious death occurs on the beach, Brody, the police chief, investigates the incident. A second death occurs, leaving him to call in an expert in sharks. The expert, Hooper, concludes he has a huge Great White on his hands, and it has claimed the beach in their town of Amity as it’s own territory.  Before it can claim anymore more live, Brody, Hooper and a fisherman, Quint, set out to catch the shark, but it’s going to more difficult than they expected.

Acting: I would say that Roy Scheider’s acting capabilities couldn’t be measured until you’ve saw more than beyond Jaws, but whether he is playing a family man, and police of a small town, Brody, or a drug addict whose livelihood in dance and choreography will kill him in All That Jazz, he really does have an array of talent. He never has to overact to showcase the character he is playing, and he is just natural at it. Robert Shaw is Quint, and I think he plays the character well because you never know just how helpful he wants to be or crazy he could be because he seems crazy. There is also Richard Dreyfuss who is Hooper, and I think he also portrays the character nicely, and hoping the best for him by the end. Lorraine Gary is the wife of Broday, Ellen. She doesn’t have enough of a role on screen to really get to know her though.

Filming: The filming builds the suspense very well. It seems that something like a gigantic shark in the water being terrifying, sounds like a silly horror concept, but Spielberg makes it work. I don’t think any movie has quite been able to pull off the concept that seriously again, and now we’ve been reduced to Sharknado since it can’t be done. Honestly, Jaws probably started the whole terrifying gigantic animal theme that would continue to attempt to scare up through the 90’s in theaters. I think what works is that it isn’t too in your face with the shark at first. We see what he turns people into, we see his fins, we see people running from him, but it isn’t till the end we see just how gigantic is, and how powerful he is. It’s a great way to build up the movie, and it’s given a staple tune to remember to associate with the shark.

Plot:  I didn’t think a shark could be scary, and I can’t say I’ll lose any sleep over the movie, but it does have this horrifying element to it. It’s terrifying in the same way that Jurassic Park was terrifying.  I think what lacks a little is the family elements that is put into movie, like showing Brody with his family and wife. I just don’t really feel any connection to that aspect of the story. For most it will just be all about seeing what the shark can do next. When you finally get to see the shark it is also just terrifying. The three characters you do come to care about though, Brody, Quint, and Hooper all put themselves in harms way as well, and it creates a lot of intensity since you have grown to like them and want them to make it through.

Jaws builds suspense in the right way, and it gives you key characters to root for near the end. There are some scenes that do feel really long though, because by the end you are ready for the showdown. It has moments where it shocks you though and gets a scare. It also has these very staple scenes that might keep you from going in the water a bit afterward.

Rating 9 of 10.

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