Directed By: Steven Spielburg
Written By: Peter Benchley
Staring: Roy Scheider, Lorraine Gary, Murray Hamilton, Richard Dreyfuss, and Robert Shaw
You’re gonna need a bigger boat.
A small resort island called Amity has a new chief of police. Martin Brody (Roy Scheider) lives quietly with his wife Ellen (Lorraine Gary), and two children hoping for a life of simplicity. He finds that even on a quiet island death is never far away. One lovely summer morning Brody has been called to the beach and sees the body of Chrissie Watkins (Susan Backlinie). The medical examiner suggests to Brody that she injuries suggest she was mauled by a shark. Being the fourth of July weekend, Mayor Larry Vaughn (Murray Hamilton) is concerned what the news of a killer shark will do fiscally. He requests that Brody announce that her death was caused by a motorboat propeller. Matt Hooper (Richard Dreyfuss), a shark expert is convinced that Watkins death is shark related. It doesn’t take long before the next body shows up on the beach to prove there is a man eating shark about. Unfortunately this body is that of a child and it sends the beach into hysteria. The mayor sends an alert out to local fisherman asking them to keep their eyes open for the shark and is made an offer by one named Quint (Robert Shaw) who will kill it for the price of $10,000. Declining the offer Vaughan strikes gold when a tiger shark has been killed and named their killer shark. It isn’t long before the shark has returned and has found it’s feeding ground rich and full yet again. The Mayor finally breaks down and agrees to hire Quint, who is joined by Hooper and Brody aboard the Orca. They begin to hunt the hunter.
Jaws was one of the first movies to ever really thrive on suspense and the imaginative curiosity of the human mind. Small, seemingly unrelated events all building up until it’s clear that a murderous shark is on the loose and it’s found a liking to the taste of man. It’s assumed the shark is larger than your average, and after a while even suspected to be enormous. When Martin Brody sails to sea with his small crew to catch the creature, he realizes his fears were even worse than he imagined. The intelligence of letting the viewer use their own imagination up to the point of really revealing the sharks massive size and violent nature is brilliant. Nothing is more frightening than a humans own imagination of their worst fear.
The time the movie takes to actually build to the climatic scenes is necessary to drive in the mystery and suspense. The film is solely structured around ominous line droppings and events that allude to something dangerous, but seldom comes right out and says so. Today films of this genre are all about shock and awe. The time and attention to detail is not taken to really frighten the viewer, nor is there any real respect for an audience to use their own brains anymore. Everything is provided on a silver platter these days and it’s just not scary. It’s boring and it’s insulting. Film makers should take a cue from Spielburg and Jaws and understand what a real horror movie is. Because scary visuals might haunt your dreams, but movies like Jaws haunt you while you are awake.
Jaws is the whole package. It has a rich cast that brings our main character’s to life, a score that still sends shivers down my spine, and most importantly the antagonist of the story, our star the shark has more of a personality then some of our Oscar winning actors in the last ten years. It’s being is just as real and tangible as Quint and the other guys. When people talk about movies not being made like they used to, Jaws is one of the movies they are talking about. Pure and simple cinema pleasure.
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