Director: Steven Spielberg
Starring: Roy Scheider, Robert Shaw, Richard Dreyfuss, Lorraine Gray, Murray Hamilton, Carl Gottlieb, Jeffrey Kramer
Rated: PG (some violent material involving shark attacks, language, and brief suggestive content)
A giant great white shark arrives on the shores of a New England beach resort and wreaks havoc with bloody attacks on swimmers, until a part-time sheriff teams up with a marine biologist and an old seafarer to hunt the monster down.
By Matt Greene
Summer, the most profitable time for multiplex theatres and CGI-explosions factories, has become synonymous with (arguably) soulless outings of artless money-making. With remakes, reboots, sequels, prequels, franchises, and cinematic universes taking over our local cinemas each mid-year, it’s easy to forget that this whole business started with the troubled production of Jaws. Spielberg’s coming-out party stands-out 40 years later as a timeless piece of pure capital-F Filmmaking that surpasses most, if not all, that it influenced. With spectacular characters and thrilling scares, it still makes audiences pause before getting in the water.
The modern-day leviathan tale of a tourist town dependent on out-of-towners for their economy (sound familiar, Panama City?) terrorized by a giant shark on July 4th is celebrating its 40th year of keeping audiences dry. The zeitgeist moments are wonderful (jumping mechanical sharks, “you’re gonna need a bigger boat”), but those thrills are matched by the timelessly human characters and dialogue. Spielberg grounds the excitement in enough reality to keep us engaged, specifically in the three men at the center. Scheider, Dreyfuss, and Shaw have incomparable chemistry, playing some of the most endearing individuals in movie history.
Sure, the mechanics of the shark itself are somewhat antiquated but that’s to be expected. I can only imagine what we will think of the effects in Jurassic World in 2055. The immutability of the personality in Jaws is what has kept us returning to it decade after decade. This Independence Day, celebrate your national freedom by enjoying one of the greatest popcorn films of all time…just make sure you go to the beach first.
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
By Cole Schneider
A few years ago I was helping a group of Navy sailors with their morning PT. Part of the workout included partnering up on a double kayak. My partner flipped our kayak in fear, proceeding to wail and cry and scream that he couldn’t swim. After I pulled him to safety, I asked how it was possible that he suffered from a swimming deficiency this acute. “My mom showed me Jaws when I was a kid,” was his response. “I wasn’t gonna get eaten by no shark!”
Aside from the somewhat sad irony that a Navy sailor can’t swim, the story gets at the heart of what makes a classic a classic. A great story–especially one as primal as “Jaws”–transcends generations and time-relative technical work, even rational thought. “Jaws” was summer cinema’s first great blockbuster. Is it also the best? The 1975 classic is hitting the big screen again this week in honor of its 40th anniversary. Obviously, you should go see it on the big screen if you have the ability.
Full of great characters submerged by a witty script, “Jaws” also features some of the best work from two of the giants of film over the past 40 years. Steven Spielberg’s direction is understated, but dynamic and enthralling with fluid, subtle camera movements that he has replicated many times over now. And composer John Williams gives two notes the power to bring an emotional cocktail that delivers both shivers and smiles.
Some classics don’t really hold up. “Jaws” certainly does. Few movies since have had three characters as wonderfully teamed as Brody (Roy Scheider), Hooper (Richard Dreyfuss), and Quint (Robert Shaw). Not to mention the shark!
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Stars