Posted by: benherst | October 27, 2009

“Jaws” Review

Jaws Review

            With teeth “the size of shot glasses,” ungodly strength, and an appetite to match, the star of “Jaws” is an extreme weapon of mass destruction.  The colossal great white shark is the main villain of the 1975 film, a Steven Spielberg suspense thriller.  Based upon Peter Benchley’s novel, the film toys with viewers’ emotions (and swimming habits).  Despite the difficulties faced in creating a functioning and realistic shark of the necessary size (26 feet), “Jaws” is successful in creating an archetypal conflict between the hero and the beast of nature, along with plenty of shock value.  Full of blood and screams, the film is guaranteed to hook you, reel you in, then – with one glimpse of a dark triangular dorsal fin and a flash of the lethal teeth – pull you into the depths.

The story opens with a gruesome and unseen murder among the waves, setting the tone for a plotline steeped in grisly carnage and mystery.  Responding to the killing, Amity Island Police Chief Martin Brody (Roy Scheider) attempts to close the island’s beaches, fearing the possibility of deadly sharks lurking in the water.  Though Brody’s actions are in the best interest of safety, he faces strong opposition from Amity Mayor Larry Vaughan, who believes that closed beaches will result in fewer tourism dollars for the region.  Forced to oblige and leave the beaches open, Brody watches in horror as victim after victim are claimed by the jaws of the marine killer.  After enlisting the help of scientist Matt Hooper (Richard Dreyfuss) and veteran seaman Quint (Robert Shaw), Brody and the two men set out to sea aboard Quint’s rickety fishing boat with the hopes of finally ending Amity’s nightmare.

            Spielberg’s camera work intensely defines the movie from beginning to end.  Though it was influenced by a stubborn malfunctioning robotic shark, the decision to hide the beast’s features and identity for a substantial opening stretch is an ultimately suspenseful ploy, effectively providing a necessary element of mystery.  Furthermore, Spielberg utilizes a distinct notion of cinematography in the film, including the “shark’s-eye-view” and the claustrophobic scenes aboard the Orca, Quint’s doomed vessel.  Additionally, the shark theme music is perhaps the best-known and oft-imitated in all of film – a repetitive two-toned masterpiece.

The aforementioned features, merged with respectable acting and an epic quantity of extras, form a tour de force exceeding the realms of a typical big-budget Hollywood thriller.  “Jaws” is Spielberg’s emergence into the directing spotlight.   Given the task of adapting an exciting, but complex novel, onto the screen – especially given the technology available at the time – the young director crafts an unforgettable picture.  Though the plot is slowed at times by insignificant scenes involving Brody and his wife, the film has all the makings of a classic worthy of sinking your teeth into.

Easily the most substantial component of “Jaws” is its conventional “man vs. nature” conflict.  In order to save the ones he cares for, Police Chief Brody must come face-to-face with his nemesis figure, a vicious force of nature in the form of a 26-foot-long shark.  Writer Peter Benchley indubitably drew on the qualities of Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea and Melville’s Moby Dick, as both works delve into the essence of the battle between man and nature at sea.  This core fight, combined with the dynamic flurry of cinematic fear, brings the film, and its viewers, to life.





  1. i love you JAWS movie

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