Director – Steven Spielberg
Cast – Roy Schneider, Robert Shaw, Richard Dreyfuss, Lorraine Gary, Murray Hamilton, Carl Gottlieb, Jeffrey Kramer
Release Year – 1975
Reviewed by John of the Dead
This being one of the most well-known and infamous films of all time, this needs no formal introduction. The still yet-to-be-a-star 28 year old Stephen Spielberg made himself a household name with this film and proved his greatness in direction and his ability to made credible “Blockbuster” flicks that serve as great films as well.
Jaws follows veteran actor Roy Schneider Amity Police Chief Martin Brody, a man who personally hates the water, but somehow has wound up police chief of an island city. With the July 4th weekend approaching, the waters of Amity become plagued by a rogue great white shark with a taste for human blood. As the weekend gets closer and more people fall victim to the massive shark it is up to Chief Brody, a shark scientist named Matt Hooper(Richard Dreyfuss) and veteran shark hunter “Quint”(Robert Shaw) to set out on a quest to kill the shark before any more lives are lost. This is no ordinary shark however, and proves to be a very formidable foe for the three assassins who are taking the battle to the shark’s newly claimed territory.
I really like how this film succeeded very well in using a giant shark as a protagonist. Many films have copied this idea, but fail miserably. Based on the novel and co-written screenplay by Peter Benchley, director Stephen Spielberg used excellent camera angles and a chilling score to set the tone for this film…right away with it’s infamous opening scene. His use of the “what you DON’T see will scare you” tension gets the job done perfectly, and was actually somewhat “incidental”. Spielberg had so many problems with the giant mechanical shark that he had no choice but to use camera-angled tension and POV shots to scare the audience. Hooray for technology right?
The acting performances in this film were top notch, and each actor/actress portrayed their character’s personalities and stereotypes as if they were born to portray these roles. How is the pacing for this film? It paces pretty well for the most part. Some scenes and dialogue could have been cut down but given Spielberg’s knack for making a film not just a “film”, you can expect some interesting dialogue and character conflict that may slow the pacing a bit, but not enough to really detriment the film.
Overall, this is a very well executed film for what it is…a film about a giant killer shark. These concepts may sound silly to some people, but this film succeeds in every aspect and won three Oscars for a reason.