A human-looking indestructible cyborg is sent from 2029 to 1984 to assassinate a waitress, whose unborn son will lead humanity in a war against the machines, while a soldier from that war is sent to protect her at all costs.
It's a hot summer on Amity Island, a small community whose main business is its beaches. When new Sheriff Martin Brody discovers the remains of a shark attack victim, his first inclination is to close the beaches to swimmers. This doesn't sit well with Mayor Larry Vaughn and several of the local businessmen. Brody backs down to his regret as that weekend a young boy is killed by the predator. The dead boy's mother puts out a bounty on the shark and Amity is soon swamped with amateur hunters and fisherman hoping to cash in on the reward. A local fisherman with much experience hunting sharks, Quint, offers to hunt down the creature for a hefty fee. Soon Quint, Brody and Matt Hooper from the Oceanographic Institute are at sea hunting the Great White shark. As Brody succinctly surmises after their first encounter with the creature, they're going to need a bigger boat. Written by
Editor Verna Fields rarely had material to work with during principal photography, as according to Steven Spielberg "we would shoot five scenes in a good day, three in an average day, and none in a bad day." See more »
When Brody stabs at the shark with his lance, his last stab hits the shark on top of the head but in the cutaway, when the shark pulls away, the lance is clearly in his mouth. See more »
My title refers to the serendipitous failure of the mechanical shark to function as planned. Steven admits this is a whole different movie than the one he planned. Because the mechanical shark broke, all the time, he was forced to use Hitchcock's techniques that Ridley used as well in ALIEN. You see a little more the shark as the movie progresses; he uses your imagination, just like in ALIEN, to supply the effects he couldn't with the broken shark. Steven himself admits that this worked out much better though the studio was furious with him at the time. Look, this is why Steven is such an overrated filmmaker; look at the rest of his works, all overrated and faded with time CLOSE ENCOUNTERS and E.T. to cite a couple. The only other true classic in his canon is SCHINDLER'S LIST. The entire rest of the catalog is just awful including SUGARLAND EXPRESS and the overrated DUEL. It is not an accident that this immortal classic is an accidental masterpiece. It is not the film Steven wanted to make; he did not know it but the shark breaking was the best piece of luck that ever befell him.
The script and the Hitchcockian suspense done with understatement, as I said, is why the film is so great. You add three of the best actors of the 20th century Shaw, Scheider and Dreyfuss and this is what you get. Young people, the opening attack on Chrissy was so graphic, my friend and several people, ran out of the cinema at high speed to vomit. You have no idea how that effected people in 1975; this was probably, up to that time, the most graphic gory depiction of violence in a film. What so many reviewers miss is the incredible humor of the film. The quaint fishing town and its locals is a source of never ending jokes about how goofy they were. Steven said he had the screenwriter deliberately lighten the movie because the rest is so unrelentingly grim. He did a great job; the clashes between Hooper and Quint are hilarious. The humor is the deepest of any Spielberg film even his unfunny disaster 1941.
The film starts and never stops to catch its breath. It is all go go go. The only breathers are well written humorous or moving scenes like where Quint tells the terrifying story of the U.S.S. Indianapolis. What a scene, now we see Quint as he as always been, trying to get back his shipmates one shark at a time. This is some of the best acting you will ever see in a movie; the performances give the film a depth that is so absent in the awful sequels. The photography is legendary with the trademark Spielberg comet up in the sky. Look, however it happened, this is an undeniable masterpiece; it is the only film that will survive him. All his other films are fading fast but not this one. You have to watch it to believe it. Everything works here: script, pacing, acting, photography and suspense. One of the greatest films ever put up on a movie screen. In 1975, my audience gave it a three minute standing ovation. It deserved it.
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