Directed By: Steven Spielberg
Written By: Peter Benchley and Carl Gottlieb
This movie speaks for itself doesn’t it? Is there really anything I can say to add to what has already been said or written about this film? I don’t know but I will give it my best shot. What can I start with in regards to this film? “It’s awesome,” seems like the best way to go. It has an ability to draw you in and take you on a wild ride. Some movies are so good they practically create an entire genre with the copycat films that follow and this is one of them. This is a movie that will never be matched though. You can make a movie about a killer snake(Anaconda), a crocodile(Lake Placid), flesh eating fish(Piranha 3D), killer wolves(The Grey), or even something I don’t know about the Loch Ness monster but it will never match up to this movie. It’s legendary, a movie that will still be awesome one hundred years from now. A movie that creeps into our memory when any of us are swimming or snorkeling in the ocean. A movie we have nightmares about that give us a fear we take to the grave. Sharks are nothing to be trifled with, most of us know that and one way or another it was this movie that taught us that.
I have read before that Steven Spielberg had a lot of regrets when it came to this film. Simply because it wasn’t actually accurate and there was plenty he didn’t understand about sharks when he made the movie. I don’t buy that though, there is nothing wrong with this movie. Yeah maybe Great White sharks aren’t capable of dismantling a large boat at sea but who cares. I am more than willing to throw out some suspension of disbelief when it comes to this one. I don’t think it matters whether it is really accurate or not anyway. We could all do with a healthy dose of fear when it comes to sharks. They are freaking scary. Anything that can accidentally mistake you for lunch and take a chunk out of your body is freaking scary. In so many ways the shark is the face of fear that is the ocean. It’s such an immense body of water that holds no shortage of creatures that will turn any of us white with fear and the shark is the scariest of the bunch. It’s a giant eating machine equipped with rows and rows of razor sharp teeth. I heard once that a shark never stops moving forwards and that if it does it will die. I don’t know if that is true or not but it has always aided the fear they invoke in me. Somehow the fact that it is always moving and devouring anything in its path makes it even scarier. From what I understand sharks don’t actually prefer to eat people, and most attacks are when they have mistaken a swimmer for a seal. All I have to say to that is God help us if they ever do develop a taste for us.
This movie is based on a book that was somewhat based off of a true story that took place nearly 100 years ago around New Jersey. I once watched a Shark Week special documentary about the real events surrounding a killer shark that he swam up river and killed several people in fresh water. The documentary was called “Blood in the Water”. It was a really interesting story and I would encourage anybody interested to seek it out. The story is not even remotely close to the story we see in Jaws but it is a true story about a killer shark that took several lives one awful week. This movie also references another true story of a mass shark attack that took place in the Pacific during WWII. Quint claims to be a survivor of the U.S.S. Indianapolis that sank during the war. When the ship sank there were 880 survivors left floating in the water and when they were finally rescued only 321 were pulled from the water alive. The navy was unaware of the ship sinking and for six days the survivors floated in the water waiting and while they were there many of them perished due to exposure while a great many of them were attacked and dragged down by sharks. It is considered the most shark attacks on humans to have ever happened in human history. It’s nearly impossible for any of us to even imagine how scary those six days must have been and the scar it must have left on those men that survived. I think it explains quite a bit about the Quint character.
I am really not overly familiar with any of the cast in this movie. Of course I know Richard Dreyfuss who has probably had the longest and most successful career of any of them. I like Dreyfuss and specifically his role in this film. He has made many great and memorable movies over the years but I think his best work was in the beginning in roles like the one he played in this film. Spielberg decided to cast him at the suggestion of his friend George Lucas who had worked with him on American Graffiti. Spielberg obviously liked him as he used him again in Close Encounters of the Third Kind. I have never seen Roy Scheider in anything else but I think he was great in this movie. His was terrific in the part but is overshadowed to a degree by Robert Shaw who played Quint. Quint is the badass of the movie, and Robert Shaw did a great job bringing him to life. He is the rough and tough shark hunter who doesn’t take orders he gives them, he doesn’t panic when things heat up, and he seems to always know exactly what to do.
As a director I think Steven Spielberg, probably more than any other, has shown an incredible ability to grow and adapt to the times. He has been making movies for over forty years and is still good at it. What separates him from some of his contemporaries though is his rate of work. He has made so many films and continues to hit home runs on a frequent basis. This movie was his first real hit and I think it set the tone for his career. Watching this movie in 1975 the critics must have really known this guy was going to be great. This movie was a financial mega hit and instantly made Spielberg a significant player. Spielberg is probably the first director I knew by name growing up. I was born in 1984 and he had already made many significant movies then. As I grew up there were the Indiana Jones movies, this one, E.T., Jurassic Park, and Hook. The latter two fulfilling all my wildest dreams in movies as I was seven and nine when they came out and saw both in the theater multiple times. I will say, that from a fans standpoint it has really been a privilege to grow up watching his movies and I still look forward to what else he has to offer us before he rides off into the sunset.
This is the kind of film I do not need to tell you is worth your time. It is one of the most famous movies ever made and it will continue to be great for all time. It has a timeless quality to it that will help it remain relative and important for decades to come. If you have not seen this movie you are missing out on one that is great, but don’t watch it before you go to the beach.
When I was a little girl, my dad used to pretend he was shark in the swimming pool. He would do the sound..dun dun dun dun…and then grab us and throw us in the air. I never even knew that was from Jaws until Ryan made me watch it a couple of years ago. It’s a super creepy movie, and a classic. It has nostalgic memories for me.
This poster is iconic. Most people know it right away. In fact, one Halloween I carved this scene into a pumpkin. I like it, and I think it is extremely effective. We can’t give credit to the movie makers on this one, however. Ryan told me that the poster was taken from the cover of the book. Cool.
NEXT MOVIE: The Jerk (1979)