Movie of the Day – Jaws
October 10, 2012 2 Comments
One early summer night on fictional Atlantic resort Amity Island, Chrissie decides to take a moonlight skinny dip while her friends party on the beach. Yanked suddenly below the ocean surface, she never returns. When pieces of her wash ashore, Police Chief Brody (Roy Scheider) suspects the worst, but Mayor Vaughn (Murray Hamilton), mindful of the lucrative tourist trade and the approaching July 4th holiday, refuses to put the island on a business-killing shark alert. After the shark dines on a few more victims, the Mayor orders the local fishermen to catch the culprit. Satisfied with the shark they find, the greedy Mayor reopens the beaches, despite the warning from visiting ichthyologist Hooper (Richard Dreyfuss) that the attacks were probably caused by a far more formidable Great White. One more fatality later, Brody and Hooper join forces with flinty old salt Quint (Robert Shaw), the only local fisherman willing to take on a Great White–especially since the price is right. The three ride off on Quint’s boat “The Orca,” soon coming face to teeth with the enemy. ~ Lucia Bozzola, Rovi
I have never been more afraid of the water than on the day I first saw Jaws. I live in Kansas of all places, but the mere thought of Jaws and would send me into some form of a panic attack in my youth whenever I was near like a lake or even a swimming pool. I wasn’t an idiot or anything, I knew that it was impossible for a shark to exist in this landlocked state let alone even being in a pool. But the movie Jaws had that effect on you. It changed the way you view certain things, seemingly innocent things. The psychological play on the mind with regards to safety and the unknown threat is frightening. As you can clearly tell from above, I pretty much questioned every possible body of water as not being safe and shark infested.
This is the movie that shouldn’t have even come into being. If you have read up on the history of the production and the sort of issues that plagued the movie with regards to shooting the movie and the shark itself, this should have been a disaster. But the happy accidents of the shark not working correctly led Spielberg to use and show the shark sparingly, meaning the threat always remained hidden until the very end of the movie. Making the full reveal to be a terrifying monstrosity, firmly placing the shark and film in whole other realm of filmmaking. It redefined the summer blockbuster release and it successfully played upon the fears of the audience with a swimming, killing machine that eliminates the feeling of safety on the seas.
But it’s not just the shark that completes the film, but the music, setting, acting and pacing keeps everything at a perfect tension. Robert Shaw though is by far the best of the film as Quint, the harden fisherman who willingly goes on the hunt for the shark, having had a dark run in with the species before. The chilling speech he gives on the Orca about the wartime killing feast that the sharks had on the crew just further pushes the notion that sharks are true killing beasts. The score by John Williams is about as iconic as the film itself and if you ask anyone to do the score from Jaws, they will immediately know how it goes. That undercurrent thumping heralds the oncoming threat and it gets your heart racing as you know, somewhere and somehow, the shark is going to strike.
Jaws is a pure horror movie. Not the traditional sense of demons, gore, or overt violence, but the pure preying on our fears of the unknown is what makes this so effective. It makes you look at your surroundings just a bit closer as it did for me in my youth. I still get chills when I am near a body of water that I can’t look into and clearly see what is there. Something might just be lurking underneath the sheet of water.