Chrissie is eaten during the opening scene of Jaws.
Jaws, besides being a terrific movie, is noteworthy for having started the modern concept of the summer blockbuster way back in 1975. In fact Jaws was the first movie to gross 100 million dollars, breaking the previous box office record which The Sound of Music had held for ten years. An amazing success for its young director, Steven Spielberg. During that time it was truly impossible to avoid seeing or hearing references to the film.
Based on the novel by Peter Benchley, Jaws is of course the story of a Great White Sharks terrorizing of a New England beach community during their busy summer season. From the very first killing of a young woman out for a moonlit swim, audiences knew they were seeing something remarkable. Steven Spielberg masterfully builds the suspense by not really letting us see the shark until more than midway through the movie.
This movie is great throughout, however, from the moment the three main characters set out in the Orca to catch the fish, this movie becomes genius. Watching them as they realize what kind of monster they are up against is nail biting cinema at its finest. The hunters become the hunted in a brutally graphic, technically brilliant, climax that film makers are still trying to duplicate.
Roy Scheider in Jaws.
As Patrick has said, this is a tense, exciting movie. What he didn't say, and is also true, is that part of what made this movie so good is that you really care about the main characters.
There are some really good character scenes in this film. Take the scene on the Orca when Brody, Quint, and Hooper are drinking and reminiscing. Quint tells a truly chilling story of his experiences with sharks during WWII. There is also a cute moment in this scene where all three of them compare scars. It is moments like these that make you care when the characters are threatened.
Spielberg does a truly phenomenal job of directing this movie. It seems even more phenomenal when you realize that this was only his second feature film. As Patrick mentioned, he builds suspense and drama better in this film then many directors have after a lifetime of film making.
And the music! Who can ever forget the simple, pulsing music that has now become embedded into our culture.
Forget Saving Private Ryan, and Schindler's List. This is Spielberg's masterwork.
Richard Dreyfuss, Robert Shaw and Roy Scheider in Jaws.
Big shark. Eat people. Upon a recent viewing I kept thinking, 'was this always such a slow paced movie?' Since the scenes of the shark are the most memorable I kept waiting for them. When the shark finally did appear I was disappointed. This film has been copied and ripped off by so many other films, that there really is nothing surprising to watch. It's not that this is a bad movie, it's just that the surprise and shock value is all but gone.
Photos © Copyright Universal (1975)