Sunday, July 19, 2015

Retro Review: Jaws (1975)

                                 After 40 Years, 'Jaws' Still Has Teeth
             One thing that I just noticed is that Universal is having a killer summer at the box office. It would make sense that they would lay claim to this summer movie season 40 years after they released THE blockbuster that helped coined that term: Steven Spielberg's Jaws.

             Jaws follows the story of a police officer named Martin Brody (Roy Scheider) who, along with a local fisherman named Quint (Robert Shaw) and an oceanographer named Hooper (Richard Dreyfuss), tries to fight off a shark that is killing off the town's local residents.

             Where do I begin? I'll start off by saying that what makes this blockbuster work so well is that it succeeds in the simple aesthetics of a great film. Blockbusters nowadays are usually cinematic junk food with explosions, minimal character development, and half-assed CGI. But Jaws' minimalism has helped it hold up to this day and I think because it taps into a common fear people have while demonstrating relatable characters, that kind of realism drew people into the theater to have an emotional experience of some kind. That's one main reason we go to the movies in the first place. To connect and experience.

           Anyways, the first thing about this film I liked is the famous score by Mr. John Williams. The genius of his score is how in the shark attack scenes, the score grows louder and louder as the shark gets closer, increasing the tension in each scene.

          Next, I'll get into the editing. From the minute the film opens, we are given an idea of what the film is about and it keeps going forward from there. Even when the pace slows down, it doesn't feel like it's dragging. One of my favorite edited scenes is one of the shark attack scenes where Brody is watching different beach goers in the water and there are quick cuts from one beach goer to another, indicating that the shark will claim its next victim but you don't know who. I also loved how director Steven Spielberg doesn't allow us to see the actual monster until towards the end. When we do see it, things get frightening, but it's even scarier when we don't and we are in the point of view of the shark when it is underwater.

        As I mentioned before, the film has very relatable characters and that is thanks in large part to the writing as well as the actors portraying them. You have Brody, the everyman captain trying to protect the citizens of his summer town that slowly tries to overcome his fear of the water, Quint, the bloodthirsty fisherman who demands a large bounty for the shark yet, in one haunting monologue, reveals his deep motives behind his vicious manhunt, and Hooper, the young marine biologist who serves as comic relief.


       Overall, Jaws is a perfectly crafted blockbuster that, like Star Wars, is a reminder of why we go to the movies. It is filled with horror and suspense yet also has moments of action and light humor and is expertly directed by Mr. Steven Spielberg. It is ultimately not just a well-crafted film, but an experience.

      Would I Recommend It?:
      Absolutely. It's a classic and should be experienced by everyone. There are some scenes of blood and violence, but even those aren't that terrible. But it is required viewing for anyone who loves film.

Grade: A+