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'Jaws' is the original summer blockbuster, setting the standard by
which all others are measured. It's the Michael Jordan of cinema: there
will never be another 'Jaws,' simply because the film so profoundly
changed the way movies are made and marketed.
Based on Peter Benchley's bestselling novel, 'Jaws' centers around the fictional North Atlantic resort island of Amity, which finds itself terrorized by an enormous great white shark. Our hero is Martin Brody, a New York cop who took the job as Chief of the Amity PD to get his family out of the city and then finds himself in the midst of an unprecedented crisis none of his prior experience has prepared him for. The remains of young Christine Watkins are found on the beach, the apparent victim of a shark attack(Chrissie Watkins' death scene at the opening of the movie is one of the most legendary in the history of film). Chief Brody wants to close the beaches, but is refused permission by Mayor Larry Vaughn (Murray Hamilton) and the Amity selectmen, all of whom fear that news of a shark attack off of Amity will threaten the summer tourist trade, on which the town depends for its very survival. The Mayor and his lackies persuade Chief Brody that such incidents are always isolated, and, inexperienced in such matters, he grudgingly agrees to keep quiet.
Consequently, the shark kills again (and again), and Chief Brody eventually finds himself dealing both with his own moral guilt for agreeing to hush up the first shark attack and with an enormous human and social catastrophe which appears to be his sole responsibility. Help comes first in the form of Matt Hooper (Richard Dreyfuss, in the role that propelled him to stardom), an icthyologist and oceanographer dispatched to Amity to lend his expertise. Together, Hooper and Brody struggle in vain against both the shark and Mayor Vaughan, who is certain that keeping the beaches open for the sake of the town's economy (and his own real-estate business) is worth the gamble.
Finally, Brody and Hooper charter an expedition with the enigmatic, vaguely malevolent Quint (Robert Shaw), Amity's most feared and respected shark hunter, to find and kill the shark and save the town from financial disaster. What ensues is an epic, archetypal man vs. beast quest that would make Herman Melville and Joseph Campbell proud. Our shark, it turns out, is way above average size, terrifically swift and powerful, and uncannily smart, to boot. Hooper, the scientist, is awestruck at having encountered the Bigfoot of the sea; Quint, the crafty fisherman with a serious chip on his shoulder against sharks, realizes he has met the ultimate test of his skills; Brody, who swims poorly and is afraid of water, must overcome abject fear and disorientation just to maintain his composure.
Robert Shaw's Quint is one of the greatest anti-heroes the movies have ever seen. He is funny and frightening all at once, and the famous soliloquy in which he recalls the tragic sinking of the USS Indianapolis--where, over the course of a week waiting for rescue, at least 90 US Navy personnel died from shark attack wounds--is one of the most chilling and unforgettable performances ever committed to film.
'Jaws' is the movie that made Steven Spielberg's career, and it's among his finest. It's easy to forget because of his enormously successful blockbusters that Spielberg is a phenomenally skillful and artful director. His timing is superb, he mixes horror with comedy to brilliant effect, he gets great performances out of his actors, and his love for special effects has never overwhelmed his understanding of the importance of story and character.
That said, the most brilliant aspect of 'Jaws' was a serendipitous accident.
The special effects team had yet to fully troubleshoot 'Bruce,' the mechanical shark, by the time filming was to begin. Under tight budget restraints and enormous studio pressure, Spielberg had no choice but to press on while his crew labored vainly to make the shark work in the cold and corrosive north Atlantic seawater. To compensate for the absence of the non-functional fake shark, Spielberg used shots from the shark's point of view and John Williams' famous two-note theme to create the illusion of the shark's presence in the early scenes. Fortunately the crew was ultimately able to get Bruce into operational status in time to film the big showdown, and some of the scenes are filled in with live-shark footage filmed by Australian underwater video pioneers Ron and Valerie Taylor. Consequently, the audience's fear is magnified by the fact that, for the majority of the film, they cannot see the shark, creating suspense towards the climax of the confrontation between man and beast on Quint's fishing boat.
'Jaws' succeeds on almost every level. It is terrifying without being grotesque, and spectacular without being unbelievable (if the shark looks a little fake, remember that, at the time 'Jaws' was released, 'Space Invaders' was on the cutting edge of computer graphics design and there was no such thing as 'Shark Week on the Discovery Channel'). Roy Scheider's Brody is a quintessential everyman, an average guy beset by fear and guilt who finds himself in extraordinary circumstances and rises to the occasion. Dreyfuss' Hooper is brash and brave enough not to come off as nerdy or self-righteous, and his friendship with Brody becomes the backbone of the movie (Spielberg and screenwriter Carl Gottlieb wisely deviated from the novel in regards to the character of Hooper, who was originally Brody's nemesis). Robert Shaw's Quint is a modern-day Captain Ahab, a worthy foe for the malevolent shark. The suspense is potent and the action thrilling, but the humor, emotion, and character development make this movie much more than a summer blockbuster.
This is the movie that started it all. I'm not talking about the Hollywood
blockbuster, or the insane madness that sent thousands of misunderstood
Great Whites to their deaths, I'm talking about the beginning of my
interest in movies. This is the movie that did it.
I couldn't tell you how old I was when I first saw it, but I do remember
this is the movie I made my parents rent time and time again when we went
to the video store. This is the movie that drove my parents and some of my
friends nuts while I watched it day after day after day when my mom gave it
to me for Christmas. This is the movie that made me want to turn a real
interest in the movies from just a hobby and into a career. For that, I owe
Spielberg, Benchley, Scheider, Shaw, Dreyfuss, Williams, Fields and
everyone else a sincere and heart-felt thank you.
I own this movie on every format in which it is available. I love it that
much. I've probably seen it between 200 and 300 times. I guess you can say
it is an obsession. A sick obsession.
The plot, the pacing, the editing, the score, the acting, and, oh yes, the
shark. Who cares that is fake? By the time we finally get to see it, do we
care? Truly, a more suspenseful movie was never made. Several come close,
but none quite reaches the primal level the JAWS does. No other film so
effectively taps into our fear of the unknown, and then gives it a riveting
score to boot. No other movie grips us so strongly with heart stopping
suspense that we find ourselves nearly falling off our seats. And no other
movie leaves us feeling so spent and wasted after a viewing.
And the reason for all the fear, suspense and emotional withdrawal is not
top-notch special effects. It was the mid-70's. You can barely apply top
-notch to anything of that era. The reason the movie does all that to us is
that it is a great story. It is filled with real people, who have real jobs,
and who have real fears. And who must now confront a real shark. Can you
think of anything more terrifying that getting on a rickety, leaky boat to
kill a 25-foot shark when you already have a paralyzing fear of the water?
I can't. And Martin Brody sure can't.
And so, no matter what ranking JAWS may get on AFI's list of the 100
greatest movies, or TV Guides list of the top 50 movies, or any list for
that matter, JAWS will always come in number one on mine.
Steven, Peter, Roy, Robert, Richard, John, and Verna -- thank you. Not for
just giving me a sense of direction in my life, not for just making me want
to be a screenwriter, but also for making a movie that still thrills me as
much now when I watch it as when it did when I saw it for the very first
Jaws is a movie the I grew up with, it's like the first real horror
film I ever watched. What a great one to start with, right? This movie
not only scarred me out of the water, I was afraid to go to the
bathroom! I thought Jaws was going to pop up out of the toilet and bite
my butt! :D I know it was silly, but that was how much Jaws effected
me. I know also that it has not lost it's effect to this day. I'm
questioning, because it seems like all the terrific horror films came
out of the 70's.
Jaws is based on the best seller book by Peter Benchley. Steven Spielberg, before he was STEVEN Spielberg turned this horrifying book and made it into a reason to hate sharks. He brilliantly took what could have been a cheesy movie and turned it into a classic that will never be forgotten. To this day, I still need a friend to hold onto, it's that score! Duh na... duh na.... dun dun dun dun.... Oh, my gosh, that music just scares the heck out of me! On such a low budget, Jaws not only turned into one of the greatest horror movies of all time, it turned into one of the greatest movies, period.
Jaws starts off with one of the most terrifying scenes in horror movie cinema, a young pretty girl goes into the water and is brutally attacked and killed by an unknown creature in the water. The next day Chief Brody investigates suspecting a shark attack, and urges the mayor, Larry Vaughn, to shut down the beach, but afraid of a panic and less tourists, Larry ignores the chief's suggestions and keeps the beach open leading to another attack on a young boy. Brody calls in Matt Hooper, a marine scientist to see if they can find the shark. But when another attack ensues and almost kills Brody's young son, Michael, he, Matt, and a cocky man, Quint go out to find Jaws themselves.
This turns into several of the greatest cinematic scenes of all time, like the "Indianapolis" speech brilliantly given by Quint, how he describes seeing his first shark was just so intense and you couldn't turn away from the screen. Then, one thing that is interesting about this movie, you do not see the shark until Brody is just chucking blood to attract the shark over his shoulder and Jaws appears roaring out of the water! "We're gonna need a bigger boat!" he replies to Quint. And then the scene where Jaws jumps onto the boat and Quint is trapped sliding into Jaw's, well, jaws! That's the scene that nightmares are made out of! Jaws is one of my favorite films of all time. It's one of those films that should never be missed, because it is so important. To many, including myself, the shark looks fake, but it's your imagination that gets with you. Spielberg embraced that and you could tell there was just something special about him. Jaws will scare you out of the water just like The Exorcist scared you to the church!
I will never forget the first time I saw Jaws. I was glued to the seat
from start to finish. I jumped, I held my breath; this was one of the
experiences that made me fall in love with movies. This was probably
the first film where I completely forgot everything around me. I was
there, in that boat, in that gloomy cabin, with those people -
everything seemed so real (and alas, the sea never looked the same
again). When I watch it these days I still marvel: the atmosphere and
the performances in this film are simply magical. Spielberg without the
schmalz. He has never been better.
My vote: 10 out of 10
Favorite films: http://www.IMDb.com/list/mkjOKvqlSBs/
Lesser-known Masterpieces: http://www.imdb.com/list/ls070242495/
Favorite Low-Budget and B-Movies: http://www.imdb.com/list/ls054808375/
Favorite TV-Shows reviewed: http://www.imdb.com/list/ls075552387/
Widely regarded as the film that began the "summer movie blockbuster era",
JAWS (1975) was also rightfully one of the year's most critically acclaimed
movies. It was also the recipient of an Academy Award Nomination for Best
Picture and a winner of Oscars for film editing (Verna Fields) and music
score (John Williams). One of the reasons the film received no acting nods
is that everyone involved is so good, how could one single out just one or
two? (I personally feel Robert Shaw should have gotten a Best Actor
nomination, however). Roy Scheider is wonderful as New York cop Martin
Brody, who has relocated to a small coastal island town, only to have his
bad case of "aquaphobia" put to the ultimate test. Richard Dreyfuss is
perfectly cast as a shark expert and provides some truly funny comic bits
along the way. Lorraine Gary (who director Steven Spielberg says was the
first person to be cast for the film) does an excellent job of being the
concerned wife and mother. Finally, there's Murray Hamilton, who gives one
of the best performances of his career as Mayor Vaughn, who seems to be more
concerned about the economy of the town than the safety of the residents. In
a way, Vaughn is really the film's villain. Solid cast indeed. The
screenplay (by Peter Benchley and Carl Gottlieb) is tight and well-written,
as is Spielberg's direction. Whether it was the mechanical shark's failure
to operate correctly or Spielberg's decision to simply see less of the shark
until the end of the film, the "less is more" idea works perfectly,
particularly in the opening scene, which is chilling to this day.
One thing I do want to add: if you choose to watch this film at home, do yourself a favor and rent or buy the WIDESCREEN version. The full-screen pan and scan version is a travesty that ruins the great camerawork that Spielberg and cameraman Bill Butler made. I always recommend the widescreen version but it is especially important for JAWS.
No offense to fans of ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO'S NEST, but this is the film that should have taken home the Oscar gold. Grade: A+
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.
When I first saw the film, "Jaws" I was immediately frightened by the unseen terror that pulls the human psychosis to the depths of the ocean...literally! Steven Spielberg had made himself the most successful director of all time when he went all out with this one! Running to the back of the house and turning all the lights on were just a few things I resorted to after watching the opening for the first time!!! I Never watched anymore of it until 1-3 years later. I was highly hesitant because to a young child, a skinny dippers suffering to the wrath of the giant unknown mouth was the most horrifying sequence in film history at the time...and it still is now! Once I finally got the courage to view the film, I was still in for a lot of surprises. The cinematography is superb in its ruthless attempt to bring the audience to the depths of a powerful ocean, and to the eyes of the dark, wretched creature the inhabits it. The story of the killer shark attacking the unfortunate island in the world is more than scary. It could have been any place in the world, and it had to be Amitty Island. The shark could have easily lost it's way in the swaying currents of the ocean, but as the opposite inhabitants of the beach get angry, this big mother is here to stay! The technique is wild, absolutely wild, and John Williams score earned more than an Oscar for it! Creepy piano notes enter this films titles, and the blue depths of the uncharted territory beneath the sea let us all know that no sense, however small, was to be spared. The first victim, alone will haunt those who view it for the rest of their days, and the rest of the story is more like a battle. This strange battle is often more focused on understanding the other side. What Brody, Quint, and Hooper must do is plunge into the depths themselves, and seek out the unruly monster of the sea. The common theme in this terrific classic is survival, and why not? Survival is a natural instinct to all animal alike. The shark must survive, as it makes so clear by snagging unsuspecting swimmers, but also the people, they to have to survive, but the island is not big enough for both man and fish together. Always a joy to experience over and over again, this film is the ultimate scare show to end them all! Sometimes, a lot of us fans can not seem to get enough of this instant classic!
Every once in a while the right talented people are at the right place
together and come up with a masterpiece. "Jaws" is definitely one of
those movies, that is thanks to the amazing cast and the crew the
classic masterpiece that it is today.
Let's face it, the story is dumb and silly and in a way very average. Spielberg magically turns the silly story into a tense exciting thriller with brilliant dialogue and classic scene's. Mark my words, "Jaws" is a movie that will never be considered outdated.
Everything in the movie works so well! The acting, the dialogue, the tension, the typical Spielberg humor, the music, everything! It's hard to name just one thing why this movie is such a masterpiece. It is the mix of everything combined that makes the movie work. Probably my favorite thing about the movie would be the dialogue, they are very raw and performed well by the perfect cast. Another thing of course would be the music and I'm not just talking about the main theme but about the entire musical score in general.
The cast is great but they are mainly great together. All of the Scheider/Shaw/Dreyfuss scene's are like three ingredients thrown together and the end result of it is pure gold.
And than Bruce the shark. Yes, he really looks believable even now days.
A real classic masterpiece that launched Spielberg's career
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The film opens with a shot of a group of teenagers enjoying a campfire
out on Amity beach... A couple leaves the group for a midnight swim...
The silhouette of a woman is seen in full flight toward the sea... Her
dress, bra, and panties fly toward her drunk admirer who can't make a
fist to catch them...
In a delicate splash, Chrissie goes swimming in the cold ocean, drawing herself into deeper water... When a wave of pressure lifts her up and eases her down, her face begins to show a certain fear... Her eyes go to the beach where her friend, too drunk to stand, is struggling with his shoe...
Chrissie turns and starts for shore... But her expression freezes... Something terrible is hurting her underneath... She struggles with all her forces, but she is soon submerged in a horrifying scene...
Police Chief Martin Brody (Roy Scheider) reacts quickly to the news of shark attack, and emerges with enough poster-board, wooden stakes, nails, paint and brushes to close every beach on the island...
But as Amity is a beautiful summer resort with clean air, clear water, and beautiful white sand beaches... Mayor Larry Vaughn (Murray Hamilton) tries with his town officials to convince the insecure police chief to file the incident as a 'boating accident.'
Brody reluctantly agrees, but later regrets his decision after few more fatal incidents... The shark has claimed Amity Island as his territory...
Quint (Robert Shaw), an eccentric old shark killer, offers to kill the menacing Great White Shark for ten thousand dollars...
Matt Hooper (Richard Dreyfuss), an arrogant young oceanographer, proves that the giant shark that killed Christine Watkins is still on the loose... 'They caught a shark. Not the shark,' he determines... and predicts future outbursts of attack activity in the area...
Brody, Quint and Hooper become allied in a life-and-death hunt... They go after the monstrous creature with rifles and poison pistols... They try to tire him, slowing him down with coiled ropes and barrels... They fight him with everything, harpoons, poles, gaffs and compressed air tanks...
Shaw is absolutely convincing as the colorful master fisherman whose obsession for destroying sharks was triggered by an actual incident in World War II...
Scheider is quiet likable as the dedicated family man who doesn't even like the water, swimming or boating... His line to Quint ('You're going to need a bigger boat.") suggests a specific cause...
Dreyfuss manages to humanize the picture while stealing it...
Spielberg alarms us with unexpected twists, and heart-stopping scenes wonderfully engaging... His grasp for sustaining the feeling of terror comes not only from what we see, but from what we're afraid we're going to see... He uses an imposing classical score to prepare the audience for something really scary that is about to show up...
With every breath, every thought, heart beat and movement, the realism of the increasing menace is present from the opening to the end... And believe me, we are never allowed the relief of looking away from the screen
"Jaws" is a thrill-ride of suspense that continues to deliver the goods to the audience 25 years later. The plot is somewhat thin: a large shark is terrorizing the tourists at the local beach. However, with that said Steven Spielberg's direction is amazing. The young director (only 28 at the time) showed unlimited potential that would only increase with age. A great accomplishment that could have been a multi-million dollar bust. 5 stars out of 5.
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