Horror-Wood Blog-a-Thon: Jaws
There is no real reason to describe what makes Jaws so good. And not to mention the amount of history it left behind. This came out in 1975 when the term “blockbuster” started to mean something and launched the career of director Steven Spielberg. Based on the novel by Peter Benchley, it took a simple concept and ran with it. In fact, it almost feels like two movies in one; a basic slasher and a fishing movie. Man vs. nature while we question if this is a basic act of nature or just an normal occurrence over exposed.
The story is a very simple one and not too hard to follow. A small town named Amity Beach is prepping for a big 4th of July celebration when a shark attack changes all that. At first, the mayor (Murray Hamilton) tries to cover it up but sadly it fails seeing more attacks occur. Things get heated to the point someone has to stop the shark and it get left in the hands of Chief Martin Brody (Roy Scheider). Thankfully, he isn’t alone as by his side are the quirky oceanographer Matt Hooper (Richard Dreyfuss) and the spiritual yet sinister Captain Quint (Robert Shaw).
From the scene when the first shark attack happens, it has you hooked. The idea of something simple as anything happening in the big ocean reaches a connection. We all love to visit the ocean and yet we fear it. Jaws plays on these two consciousness knowing that an attack from a big fish couldn’t be possible but yet opens that possibility. This is mostly because a lot of the time you never see the shark. A clever idea and came from an accident when the mechanical shark puppet wouldn’t work. It resorted to Spielberg using point-of-view shots and music to give a basic cue to audience when the shark appears. It works because it allows the imagination of the viewer to play out as terror from the deep surfaces on the swimmers for lunch.
And when we do see the shark, its satisfying. Again, we don’t see much and I feel that is a huge strength for the movie. Once Brody and the gang are out on the ocean, anything goes in the world of the shark. Knowing how powerful this beast can be, we wonder just how well this thing could be stopped while each of the shark hunting trio take turns in trying to use their expertise to destroy the water beast. It’s this section of the film that really gets engaging. After teasing and showing how destructive this sea monster can be, we let our heroes come in and save the day.
Jaws also has a great cast too with so many great performances that are too much to mention. Roy Scheider is great as the every man hero Brody as we connect with his family life and ethics. He fears for the safety of the people while trying to question his ethics. This comes into play later when he is at sea and tries to fit in with Quint and Hooper. At first, he tries to be rational despite having his ideas ignored. Without giving too much away, it appears the pay off at the end is that any given person will come forth with a simple solution that might work. And in some cases, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know how deadly a shark can be.
I also love how Robert Shaw and Richard Dreyfuss play off each other as Hooper and Quint. It feels like student vs. mentor but not in a cliched way. Hooper at first appears to be cocky and really plays up the comic relief. But during his stay at Amity Beach and in the final moments, he proves to be a reliable source seeing his knowledge of sharks comes into play at the right time. Quint, on the other hand, believes that science needs to take a back seat considering his view of ocean life and seeing it his way. He almost has a spiritual sense to it even when he recounts his time on the Indianapolis. A scene that will go down as one of the best in cinema history hearing Quint’s horrifying tale of the secret mission gone wrong.
Jaws as a whole feels like two movies in one. We get the typical slasher film as the shark stalks and kills its victims while the final half plays off like a fishing trip gone wrong. Your so embedded into these characters that you want to see them put an end to the terror of the sea and beaches. For as long as this movie has been around, surprisingly it does manage to scare people away from swimming in the ocean. And its not hard to see why considering something simple as the open sea can be a deadly creature to deal with. I also have full bragging rights to say I was able to see this on a drive-in theater screen this summer and can say this movie still packs punch, laughs and thrills. The experience alone of seeing a classic on a nostalgic favorite screen is enough for me to give this a high recommendation and remind viewers that even the most basic concept can make for an effective and unique motion picture.
Posted on October 27, 2015, in Horror-Wood 2015 and tagged 1975, Brody, Hooper, Horror, Horror-Wood, Horror-Wood Blog-a-Thon, Jaws, Quint, Richard Dreyfuss, Robert Shaw, Roy Scheider, shark, shark attack, Steven Spielberg, Universal Pictures. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.