Sunday, 4 March 2012

Jaws (1975)

Rating: 8.8/10

"You're gonna need a bigger boat!"

Yes, this is the film that started it all. The film that was deemed as the first Summer blockbuster and that scared people off the bitches for more than two years. JAWS, was Steven Spielberg's world wide success as a big-screen director, and he stayed there on the highest directing ranks ever since.

The story in short goes somewhat like this:"When a gigantic great white shark begins to menace the small island community of Amity, a police chief, a marine scientist and grizzled fisherman set out to stop it." (

I know that we've had our share with the various films over the last decade with sharks, piranhas and all of those vicious fish that want to eat people up, but this one back in the day was the ultimate thriller. The puzzling thing about Jaws  is that it was set in broad daylight, with quite a few back-stories in the film and without showing the "villain" of the film until the very middle of it. Pay close attention to how cleverly Spielberg uses this as a decoy to draw attention to the drama going on around the characters and in building up the suspense until we get to meet this "white villain". Not only it makes us get to know the characters but also to the place that the plot is going on. The young and newly-experienced Spielberg shot this mostly in hand-held camera thus making it all the more challenging to shoot.

The gem of the film though was the "great white turd", as Spielberg also called the shark. It managed to scare off so many people around the globe and make the shooting location into a summer resort that it literally re-shaped the movies industry as we know them. He screen time is not much, but his built up is eventful. The CGI's back then granted were of a lacking quality in comparison to today's technological advancements, but nevertheless, Bruce, as the shark was named by Spielberg after his lawyer, made his on-screen debut a world-wide phenomenon. He was, and probably is one of the scariest creatures in cinema history and all thanks to the imagination of the author of the book Peter Benchley. Albeit Benchley knew very little about sharks, he managed to write a summer book that would soon turn into the first summer blockbuster.

The acting was, well, how can one put it when Richard Dreyfuss is involved? Spectacular. Not just by Dreyfuss but also by the wonderful and just lovable Roy Scheider, the fearsome Robert Shaw and  Lorraine Gary. All actors were simply top-notch for the simple reason, they bought into the story so much that truly gave people a scare to visit their local beaches. They were THAT convincing. Without this though, letting them do an excellent job in carrying forward the drama of the film, they entrusted in Spielberg to guide them into a film that would mark their acting careers.

This film is a landmark for various reasons. It is nowadays one of the first films that a Film Student will be taught at University or that a film junkie will have seen, because this film signals the visual spectacle that will bring in the audience during a heat wave. Spielberg got it right. With his fresh vision - he was 26 years old when he made Jaws -  he managed to create a cool, entertaining and visually stimulating thriller, that left everybody rooting for the good guys to take their revenge on the great white turd. What else could an audience need back in 1975 but a cooling, entertaining, scary flick during the summer days? Spielberg hit the box-office jackpot.

Many sources suggest though, that when composer, John Williams, first played the soundtrack he had written for the film to Spielberg, he laughed and said with a snide tone what the real soundtrack was. Had he changed this first composition of Williams, Jaws would not be what it is today in my opinion. Believe me when I say that half of the film's success is owed to that score. And the music speaks for itself. To get a sneak preview of it click here!

Many hailed this as the #3 Scariest film of all times, but for me it is indeed the reason why I'm always weary what's below the waters whenever I'll swimming, even if I know that  it is an impossibility to have a great white turd in the waters I might be swimming. I remember my mother always telling me that when she watched it for the first time back in the day, it took her three years to get back in the water. And THAT is the proof of how good of a job Spielberg did. He took something seemingly so tedious, as a shark, and turned it into this myth, this great on-screen villain that will still keep haunting youngsters from swimming far off shore and from nooby directors who have a vision of creating a similar thematology on screen.

Watch this with your pals during the summer days to cool of the heat and for a thrilling time! This is a keeper of a film!

Jaws (1975)

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