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‘Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water…’ If you’ve ever heard this phrase then you know it’s synonymous with the film franchise Jaws. More specifically, in this review, I’d like to discuss the original film. Released forty-four years ago in the year 1975, Jaws was directed by Steven Spielberg and based on the novel by Peter Benchley. The film stars various classic film stars such as Roy Scheider, Richard Dreyfuss, and Robert Shaw. The story within the film focuses on a summer tourist town called Amity being terrorized by a Great White Shark leading up to the Fourth of July celebrations. Despite being a monster movie of sorts, the film focuses largely on the town of Amity and its shady politics. Chief Brody, played by Roy Scheider, faces off against a greedy mayor played by Murray Hamilton, who hopes to keep the beaches open for the Fourth, despite several grisly deaths. The best thing about this film is the ability to keep you on the edge of your seat from beginning to finish. After the tragic death of a child, you realize how high the stakes are and just how terrifying this film’s antagonist is. After even more bloodshed, the film completely reinvents itself in its second and third acts.
In my opinion, the last half of the film features its strongest and weakest points. Brody and his Oceanographic assistant Hooper, played by Richard Dreyfuss, set out on the ocean to hunt down the shark with an eccentric shark hunter named Quint, played by Robert Shaw. This part of the film shifts from the sinister and tense feeling of the first half of the film and more into an adventurous sailor’s tale. Although this part of the film is nonstop fun with humorous and iconic dialogue, the worst part of the film is also within this section. As I’ve grown up with the film, it’s easier for me to suspend my disbelief, but for the average viewer tuning in today, the Great White Shark is at times distractingly unrealistic. Because of the time in which this film was made, I cut it a considerable amount of slack because of the sheer amount of ambition and dedication that went into crafting the rest of the film. Despite the subpar special effects at times, the shark is still a terrifying force to be reckoned with and iconic. My favorite scene in the film involves the three protagonists sitting together and Quint revealing he was on board the ill-fated USS Indianapolis. This monologue perfectly sets up Quint’s obsession with sharks and produces a great sense of sympathy in an otherwise chaotic and eccentric character. The ending of the film is one of great triumph but at a significant cost. In my opinion, the ending is one of the greatest of all time due to its satisfaction and ability to bring the audience back to earth after the climactic events.
Jaws is in my opinion, one of the greatest films out there due to its terrific usage of tension, memorable characters, and highly quotable dialogue. My appreciation of the film has grown ever since I was a child as I’ve grown more fond of the art of filmmaking. What Steven Spielberg accomplished despite the tremendous hardships he endeavored is a monument to the film industry as a whole. The traces of my desire to be a police officer goes as far back to my childhood watching this film and rooting for the character Chief Brody and his courage to face the beast. If you haven’t seen this film, I recommend it as it’s a classic of the film industry and one that holds up as a terrific horror film even today.
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