Steven Spielberg / USA / 1975 / 124 min
Often credited as the film that gave birth to the blockbuster genre, Steven Spielberg’s Jaws was the movie that scared people out of the water in 1975 with its uncontrollable, 25-foot serial killer. As Paramount Studios celebrates its 100th anniversary, Jaws has been re-released in its original 35mm print, resulting in a refurbished experience of both a classic film and our ever-present paranoia.
Settling into his role as Chief of Police, Martin Brody (Roy Scheider) is still following orders and is forced to keep the tourist-driven Amity Island afloat, all the while hunting a man-eating shark. But as the bodies begin to mount, Brody, accompanied by I’ll-scratch-this-chalkboard-to-get-your-attention Quint (Robert Shaw) and college-boy oceanographer Hooper (Richard Dreyfuss), must take to open water in order to save the prosperity and livelihood of the island.
Based on Peter Benchley’s bestselling novel, Jaws has become an iconic piece of filmmaking. With a tight budget, Spielberg managed to create a film which has spurred countless spin-offs as many aspiring directors toy with the dangers of nature, but rely heavily on CGI to cover up the cracks in their questionable plots (Mega Shark Vs. Giant Octopus is probably the most embarrassing example).
For those of you who have still to experience Jaws, you have to forgive the shark, it is 37 years old after all – but there is something raw, terrifying and relevant about this film rooted in our fear of the unknown and our quest for territoriality. The relationship between the three hunters is borne out of exquisite casting, nifty storytelling and fierce rivalry, as they clash over morals, tactics and drink; they are, in effect, the shark-slaying Three Musketeers. Robert Shaw’s inimitable performance still triumphs almost 40 years on, as the haggard seaman, damaged by a shark-related war memory and on a mission to prove he can catch this big fish. His eventual demise at the hands (or mouth) of the shark is one of cinema’s most memorable death scenes. Accompanied by John Williams’ menacing orchestral score, Jaws is a masterclass in Hollywood blockbuster entertainment – a suspense driven classic which has stood the test of time.
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