4/26/2015

Film Review - Jaws

Fig. 1
Release Date - 1975
Director - Steven Spielburg 
Genre - Suspense, Thriller, Mystery.

Based on the novel by Peter Benchley, published in 1975, telling the story of a great white shark that preys upon a small resort town and the voyage of three men trying to kill it.
In detail it depicts a 25- foot shark terrorising a beach town called Amity island, starting when a woman is killed while skinny dipping in the sea one night (Fig.2) . The tragedy makes police chief Martin Brody take action and soon he commits himself to catching and killing the man-eater. The story grew out of Benchley's interest in shark attacks.

(Fig. 2)
Our first unsuspecting victim of the film, and image which is terrifying and makes us fear what's below.

The film has brilliant ways of drawing us in and we find ourselves in its horrifying reality, because of the realistic story, a shark attacking humans, we can't help but imagine ourselves confined to one of those inflatable boats, our legs dangling in the water as the unseen monster approaches the surface.  The fact the shark is always unseen until it's too late adds to the viewers suspense and tension, it’s chilling stuff that haunts us. 

Something no one can argue with is the most recognisable element of the film, one of the most suspenseful pieces of music by John Williams, going on to win him an Academy Award. The main theme becoming a unofficial soundtrack for impending terror. "Dun dun…dun dun……dun dun." When you hear the music increasing in speed, you know something horrific is about to happen to some poor unsuspecting person. A truly haunting piece of cinematic expression, now widely used to again suggest impending horror. Almar Haflidason talks about the memorable music "John Williams' memorable score is used sparingly but its tone of impending terror is more responsible for the power of the film than the sightings of the beast itself." (A.H. 2001)

After all this time the film continues to thrill and frighten the viewers. It's become such a timeless classic. It had a vast impact on the way movies are made, marketed and merchandised and spawned a fascination with sharks. And undeniably the film generated a fear of swimming that continues to this day, the fear of what's below the water, the unseen and in the back of our minds that looming soundtrack putting people on edge long after they have seen the film.

Surprisingly Spielberg wasn't first choice to direct the film, originally John Sturges was meant to direct but was unavailable, then it was Dick Richard but he was supposedly fired because he kept calling the shark a whale during production. Spielberg was finally approached and signed on to the project because because it was similar to his popular tv movie Duel which featured a killer truck driver. "Some say, however, that Jaws is essentially Duel 2. Certainly there are similarities" (M.D. 2013) Spielberg was constantly rewriting the script and wanted the film to feel like it was happening to real people so he never wanted any big stars hired for any role. In the words of actor Richard Dreyfuss "We started the film without a script, without a cast and without a shark." (N.S, 2005) 

Spielberg's casting helps us relate to the characters, making the acts of violence more terrifying and making us actually care which is key in any horror movie, if the audience didn't care about the characters being killed off the film would be a flop.


Illustration List - 

Figure One - Jaws Minimalist Film Poster $27.99 | Minimalist Film Prints ... (2014) From: Jaws Directed By: Steven Spielberg. [Film Poster] United States: Universal Pictures At:www.pinterest.com

Figure Two - Jaws Blu-ray Review | High Def Digest (1997) From: Jaws Directed By: Steven Spielberg. [Film Still] United States: Universal Pictures At:bluray.highdefdigest.com

Bibliography -

Dinning, Mark. (2013) 'Has swimming in the sea ever been the same since?' From: Jaws In: http://www.empireonline.com 09.02.13 (online) At:http://www.empireonline.com/reviews/reviewcomplete.asp?FID=132751 (accessed 27.04.15)

Haflidason, Almar. (2001) 'Jaws (1975)'  From: Jaws In:http://www.bbc.co.uk
09.04.01 (online) At:http://www.bbc.co.uk/films/2000/07/14/jaws_review.shtml
(Accessed 27.04.15)

Smith, Neil. (2005) 'Shark tale that changed hollywood' From:Jaws In:http://news.bbc.co.uk
03.06.05 (online) At: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/4600557.stm
(Accessed 27.04.15)


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