Jaws (1975) was directed by Steven Spielberg and based on Peter Benchley’s 1974 novel of the same name. I’m not sure it’s a ‘horror’ film in the traditional sense of the word, but it’s certainly ‘scary’ and it’s got more than its fair share of jumps and intense scenes. It tells the story of a man-eating great white shark that attacks a summer resort town on Amity Island. Police chief Martin Brody (Roy Scheider) begins to hunt the shark with the help of a marine biologist (Richard Dreyfuss) and a professional shark hunter (Robert Shaw).
SPOILER ALERT: This review will talk openly about the plot of the film. I’m not sure I need one when we’re talking about a film that’s 45 years old (damn I’m old) but if you haven’t seen it and you want to be spoiler free go check it out and come on back afterword.
My wife isn’t a huge fan of horror movies. We started a tradition a few years back where every Halloween we’ll sit down and watch one horror flick with me. I’ve got three boys and the older two (14 and 12) have been asking to watch some horror films with me and this year we decided to let the join us to watch Jaws. We’ve also subsequently started watching The Meg… I’m sure I’ll get around to reviewing that as well.
Jaws has one of the all time best scores composed by the one and only John Williams. Even if you’ve never seen this film I can almost guarantee you’ve heard the haunting tones of the shark coming through the water.
It is often credited as the first summer blockbuster. It was the highest-grossing film in history (472 million) until the release of Star Wars in 1977. While this number is an opening weekend haul for the blockbusters of today I can’t understate how monumental this was at the time. There are three sequels in the franchise, none of which are worth watching in my humble opinion.
I’ve never been to the filming location of Martha’s Vineyard but I can assure you that when we get there I’ll be thinking about Jaws and Bruce the Shark (what the prop shark was named on set) the entire time.
By today’s standards this is a pretty tame and rather slow film. But that’s what makes it so awesome. You don’t even seen the shark until well into the movie but by that point you know full well what we can do and the danger the follows him everywhere he goes. There’s not a ton of blood and guts in here either save for a couple of scenes.
Jaws holds up remarkably well even if it’s a bit slow. It’s intense and foreboding and is a great entry into the thriller / horror genre for younger viewers. I can’t say that it’ll make you want to rush right out and go swimming in the ocean but it’s a film that if you haven’t seen you absolutely need to. In a time of social distancing and government mandates this one also has some interesting overtones when you factor in the decision to close the beaches or keep them open. That certainly wasn’t in the writers mind when he penned the original story but it adds another layer when watching it today.