Fig. 1. Jaws poster.
Steven Spielberg’s Jaws (1975) is a horror/thriller that is still a delight to watch now, filled with lots of suspense and possibly one of the most know soundtracks in film history it is an action packed rollercoaster that ends with a bang.
Fig. 2. Barrel still.
One of the most successful factors to the story is the shark is rarely seen, as Lucy points out ‘So much about the shark is implied and this is greatly aided by surely one of the most recognizable sound tracks ever from John Williams.’ (Lucy, 2014). Lucy rightfully suggests that the shark is mostly implied throughout the film; Spielberg intelligently uses other objects to suggest the shark is there. For example there is a scene in which a pier is being dragged by the shark, the pier alone is enough to make you feel unnerved and scared, combined with the score from John Williams the suspense and tension is thickly layered. Another very impactful attribute is the POV shots from the shark, these immerse you into the role of the killer shark and make the water scenes feel more terrifying as you are made to see what the shark sees. All of these components create a deeply tense atmosphere that makes the film a huge success.
The first half of the film focuses on building the suspense, the tension, creating a horrific vision of the sea that is not easily removed. However the second half becomes somewhat of an exciting adventure, you feel almost excited to see the freshly formed trio of average people go out to hunt for the shark that has been terrorising the beach. As Huls states in his review ‘Great blockbusters like Jaws are propelled by pervading destructive threats that are nonetheless rooted in a sense of fun. We enjoy experiencing them in the same way we enjoy Quint, Brody and Hooper (along with Williams’ rousing score) chasing the shark’ (Huls, 2014). Huls suggests that although there is a sense of serious danger, the overall tone is quite fun and exciting. Much like how the characters themselves are excited to go out and hunt the shark, we as the viewer’s feel compelled by the thought of them embarking on this crazy quest.
Fig. 3. Shark still.
The film was so successful that it became the reason that blockbusters get released around summer time still to this day. As Reynolds points out in his review ‘Hailed as the film that gave birth to the modern-day blockbuster, Steven Spielberg's Jaws made a villain out of the great white shark and scared a generation out of the water back in 1975.’ (Reynolds, 2013). Reynolds suggests that Jaws created the trend for the modern-day blockbuster, not only in the time in which films are now released but also in the events that happen within the film. The trend is that there is a catastrophic danger throughout the film which leads to the adventure and excitement to stop this danger.
It is interesting how the film can be seen as having two villains, the shark being the most obvious as it goes around killing anyone that gets near water. The second villain could be the Mayor Vaughn, he refuses to actually protect his town and leaves the beaches open for more incidents to happen. This touches on a debate about the trustworthiness of politicians and as Reynolds states in his review ‘Untrustworthy politicians are as resonant now as they were back in the Watergate-era of Jaws's initial release.’ (Reynolds, 2013). Reynolds mentions that the trustworthiness of politicians was as much as a problem back in Jaws release date as it is now. It is possible that Spielberg was attempting to mirror the issues that were present with this character.
Overall this is an action packed blockbuster that will leave you scared of the open sea for a long time. It is filled with tension and suspense that is all wrapped in an exciting adventure, against a shark that looks slightly fake when it is finally revealed.
Spielberg, S. (1975). Figure 1. Jaws poster. http://www.movieswalls.com/jaws-movie-wallpaper-poster (Accessed on 22/02/2015)
Spielberg, S. (1975). Figure 2. Barrel still. https://tinselblog.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/jaws-still-mr-4.jpg (Accessed on 22/02/2015)
Spielberg, S. (1975). Figure 3. Shark still. http://images.yuku.com.s3.amazonaws.com/image/x-png/6df35bfa59e742c694860725f6398e17a7ae958.x-png (Accessed on 22/02/2015)
Huls, A. (2014). moviemezzanine.com. http://moviemezzanine.com/history-of-film-jaws/ (Accessed on 22/02/2015)
Lucy, J. (2014). abc.net.au. http://www.abc.net.au/atthemovies/txt/s4026189.htm (Accessed on 22/02/2015)
Reynolds, S. (2013). digitalspy.co.uk. http://www.digitalspy.co.uk/movies/review/a387349/jaws-review-steven-spielbergs-shark-classic-returns-to-uk-cinemas.html#~p52JYdomNsEK2K (Accessed on 22/02/2015)