JAWS (1975 United States)

Jaws_The-Unseen-Monster_pierThe mechanical shark in Jaws (“Bruce”) reportedly would not work very well for director Steven Spielberg, subsequently Spielberg resorted to point of view shots to achieve the terror he desired. This was an inspired technique, far better than actually seeing the shark.

Later on the shark is represented by an assortment of different floating objects, from dock piers, yellow keg barrels, and of course its own dorsal tail fin. We don’t always see the animal, but we are convinced it is there. When we finally do see the shark towards the end of the picture, it doesn’t matter that it looks fake, we feel its real and that’s all that matters.

Perhaps the single best moment of the film is near the end when the shark has 3 barrels attached to him but still won’t drown. The engine of the ship is burnt out and Quint calmly comes out and throws a couple of life preservers to Brody and Hooper. Quint does not put his life-jacket on. Quint knows what sharks can do to man, and in this moment all 3 men realize the ship is sinking and they are running out of options.

Much has already been written about the sharp vibrancy of the story and the slow build up to the eventual revelation of the event that triggers the narrative and sends us headlong into that four-way battle of wits that dominates the film’s final act. The screenwriters took an obvious leaf from Hitchcock – in particular, The Birds (1963) – with that idea of a small, peaceful island community being terrorized by an ecological, natural horror that is never fully explained (and remains all the more terrifying for it). The iconic score of John Williams, which benefits from a two-note simplicity in keeping with the rest of the story, sums up the basic idea of an unseen, unstoppable evil, waiting in the most innocuous place of all… the sea.

jaws_10Spielberg’s confident approach to a cinema of this scale, even at such an early point in his career, is already apparent.He turned something that could have been a fairly obvious maritime disaster movie with a rubber toy, into a film that was more enigmatic, character driven and open to interpretation. The ultimate summer blockbuster, Jaws goes even further; standing as a truly radical and exciting piece of film-making. Rich in character, action, energy and technique; and filled with some truly iconic moments that have endured throughout the subsequent forty years. Still retaining the power and ability to shock and excite the audience in more than equal measures. It’s an example of almost perfect film-making.

Setting the template for many of Spielberg’s greatest films in terms of structure, presentation and impact; with that opening sequence grabbing our attention with a swift combination of alluring sexuality giving way to full-blown horror and dread. This whets our appetite just enough to make us persevere with the eventual scenes of exposition that immediately follow. Spielberg is also able to suggest the kind of danger lurking ahead, creating a sense of suspense for the audience that will pay off in the final third of the film, where we find non-stop action, drama and pure character dynamics.

(Still a better love story than ‘Twilight’)

QuintGoesDownFighting

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Comments

  1. I nominated you for The Versatile Blogger Award. I look forward to your post, if you accept. http://ajoobacatsblog.com/2015/09/06/the-versatile-blogger-award-2/

    Liked by 1 person

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