The film that truly launched Spielberg into the public eye, a film which overachieves and overcomes the odds stacked heavily against it. A story about a seaside town attacked by a shark would not seem to be the basis for one of the most loved, respected and successful movies of all time, but Spielberg and the cast make it happen-scares excitement, laughs, good characters and great acting all contribute, along with fluid direction and a now infamous score. The budget was low, the filming at sea extremely troublesome, the shark wouldn’t do what it was supposed to, but through all this the story prevails and we are left with a true classic.
Scheider stars as Sheriff Brody, an ex-city cop with a fear of water who moves with his family to Amity, a popular sea-side holiday resort. There have been a number of deaths recently, and young shark expert Hooper comes to town to long at the bodies. He believes the deaths have been caused by a Great White Shark which will not leave the are while there is still plenty of food around. He advises Brody to close the beach, but the Mayor thinks it should be kept open for the July 4th weekend, the time when the town makes a real profit. When attacks continue, Brody and Hooper decide to track the shark and catch it. Local fisherman Quint who has met one or two sharks in his time also comes. The three set out on the tiny boat, and the shark soon finds them.
There are scenes which have since become the stuff of legends- the opening night attack, the ‘need a bigger boat’ scene and others. The shark may look unreal now, especially as we all have a far better knowledge of sharks with all the documentaries and underwater technology. However, the tension is still high, and like Alien, we only see it near the end. The relationship between the three men on the boat, their arguments and jokes give the film a unique feel, ensuring the viewer is on the boat with them, and other touches such as Brody’s son mimicking him are now a Spielberg staple. The death scenes are gruesome and real, thanks to the acting, and the score will is one of the best anyone has done, suiting the film perfectly. By the last few minutes, as the ship sinks, we are with Brody, waiting for the shark’s inevitable return. Much has been made of the ‘jumpy’ moments, and every part of the film has since been dissected. It remains a film which everyone can enjoy, and one which will stay with you forever.
This 2 disc special edition has plenty of trailers, interesting deleted scenes, a good interview with Spielberg and a good documentary charting the history of the film. A piece of history which everyone should enjoy.
Feel free to leave your comments on the movie- is this Spielberg’s best? And don’t forget to check out my other Jaws reviews in the DVD section.