Jaws (1975)

Directed by Steven Spielberg
Cinematography Bill Butler

Shot mostly on location on Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts, the film had a troubled production, going over budget and past schedule. As the art department’s mechanical sharks suffered many malfunctions, Spielberg decided to mostly suggest the animal’s presence, employing an ominous, minimalistic theme created by composer John Williams to indicate the shark’s impending appearances. Spielberg and others have compared this suggestive approach to that of classic thriller director Alfred Hitchcock. Universal Pictures gave the film what was then an exceptionally wide release for a major studio picture, over 450 screens, accompanied by an extensive marketing campaign with a heavy emphasis on television spots and tie-in merchandise.

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If this movie scares you to the point where you can’t go back into the water, then Spielberg has done job well done

13 April 2003 | by Kristine (kristinedrama14@msn.com) (Chicago, Illinois) – See all my reviews

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! 😀 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.

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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.

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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!

10/10

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One of the Greatest Thrillers Ever Made

Author: eht5y from United States
23 July 2004

‘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.

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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.

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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.

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‘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.

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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.

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‘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.

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“You yell barracuda, everybody says, ‘Hunh, what?’ You yell shark, and we got a panic on our hands on the Fourth of July.”

Author: TacoBilly from North Hollywood, CA
14 August 1998

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.

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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.

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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.

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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 time.

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