When a young woman is killed by a shark while skinny-dipping near the New England tourist town of Amity Island, police chief Martin Brody (Roy Scheider) wants to close the beaches, but mayor Larry Vaughn (Murray Hamilton) overrules him, fearing that the loss of tourist revenue will cripple the town. Ichthyologist Matt Hooper (Richard Dreyfuss) and grizzled ship captain Quint (Robert Shaw) offer to help Brody capture the killer beast, and the trio engage in an epic battle of man vs. nature.
Before E.T, Raiders of the Lost Ark and Jurassic Park, Steven Spielberg directed Jaws, a film that pretty much launched his career in Hollywood and can be considered as the inaugural blockbuster. I guess the film has grown on me, I did not take a liking to it initially but over the course of multiple viewings I have grown to love the film. When it came out in 1975, it was perhaps best known for its horror, but for me the horror is the least important thing about this film. For me, it’s the intensity, suspense and great characters that make Jaws such an exciting and engrossing experience. Even though the film is called Jaws, it isn’t really about the shark, the shark a minimal amount of screen-time. The film is really about the characters and the three leads played by Roy Schneider, Robert Shaw and Richard Dreyfuss are perhaps three of the most compelling and believable characters ever to take the screen. Schneider, Shaw and Dreyfuss all rise up to the challenge delivering memorable and effective performances.
Spielberg in my opinion is perhaps the most universal filmmaker in the world. The themes his films explore can appeal to any audience in any part of the world and Jaws is the film that can be seen and enjoyed by a number of different audiences. The film has drama, comedy, terror, adventure, and beating to the drum of John Williams iconic original score, Spielberg crafts the film that has enough tension and suspense to make you uneasy but enough lightheartedness to calm you down, both these elements are perfectly varied. The film’s cathartic final act deserves special praise in itself and final forty minutes of the film are both absorbing and invigorating in equal amounts.
Forty years on and Jaws is still as thrilling and gripping as it was when it first hit the screens. The film was Spielberg’s first foray into high-concept filmmaking and the film itself is very much the blueprint for any blockbuster film.