Sunday, 28 July 2013
Movie Review: Jaws (1975)
A men-versus-shark thriller and the original modern high-budget, high-publicity summer blockbuster film, Jaws is a wild ride straight into the razor-sharp teeth of entertainment. Director Steven Spielberg's first massive hit is a gripping, suspense-filled battle between one small community and one mammoth killing machine.
When the great white makes an audacious attack against Brody's young son and his friends in a supposedly sheltered inner pool, Brody teams up with grizzled shark hunter Quint (Robert Shaw) and marine biologist Hooper (Richard Dreyfus), and they head out in Quint's boat to hunt down the predator on the open water. With tension mounting between the gruff Quint and the college-educated Hooper, they soon make contact with the seemingly indestructible and incredibly powerful shark, and the determined hunters become susceptible prey.
Star Wars came along).
The malfunctioning mechanical shark meant that Spielberg had to suggest the presence of the beast much more than show it. Jaws was therefore transformed from a horror film to a suspense thriller, the lethal predator lurking but unseen, its presence mostly suggested through point-of-view shots, and confirmed with the agony of churning water turning red with the gushing blood of mangled victims.
The brilliantly minimalistic soundtrack by John Williams became as much a part of the film as the shark itself. Built on an astonishingly simple but incredibly sinister tuba two tone, the chilling music ignited Williams' career and started and long-lasting association with Spielberg.
Among the actors, Robert Shaw makes the strongest impression. Enjoying Quint as a larger than life and naturally abrasive hunter, Shaw lets loose with the dry laugh, the bad jokes, the long stories and the abuse directed mostly at Hooper. But he also gets the most deadly serious monologue in the film, recounting his background as a crew member of the USS Indianapolis, torpedoed by the Japanese at the end of World War Two with the survivors mercilessly attacked by sharks as they awaited rescue. It's a riveting island of quiet personal terror in the wide open seas of Jaws.
Murray Hamilton brings delicious smarminess to Mayor Vaughn, and he gets the second best line of the movie when confronting the idea that the dead tiger shark may not be the killer terrorizing his community: "This is not the time or the place to perform some kind of half-assed autopsy on a fish. And I'm not going to stand here and see that thing cut open and have that little Kintner boy spill out all over the dock."
Jaws delivers extraordinary suspense in the water, an unforgettable story of evil lurking beneath the surface, a killing machine operating with beady-eyed efficiency.
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