Friday Flicks: Jaws

Noted for being the first summer blockbuster, Steven Spielberg's 1975 adaptation of author Peter Benchley's Jaws was a groundbreaking cinematic achievement. A thriller that continues to terrify audiences to this day, Jaws combines a great story with interesting characters and a threatening monster to create an iconic and timeless movie.

The film takes place in the small New England tourist town of Amity Island. The town is shocked when the remains of a young woman who died of an apparent shark attack washed on shore. Police Chief Brody (Roy Scheider) is determined to protect beach-goers from any further attacks, even if that means closing the beaches. Amity's mayor is equally motivated to keep the beaches open, and enlists oceanographer Matt Hooper (Richard Dreyfuss) to examine the remains. But the mayor, sensing a publicity nightmare that would destroy the town's reputation and financial stability, refuses to search for a long term solution to the problem.

When Brody and Hooper discover the remains of another victim, this one with a great white tooth embedded in their boat, they decide to enlist the help of eccentric shark hunter Quint (Robert Shaw). The unlikely trio heads out to hunt the animal and restore peace to their small town. Along the way, they learn that they are not facing any ordinary animal. The shark that is preying on their town is a real monster with only one goal. . . killing any person who comes in contact with it.

Jaws is one of those rare horror films that scares not by shock but by imagination. In fact, many of the scenes that do not show Speilberg's monster are far more terrifying than when we actually get to see it. Composer John William's iconic score instantly creates an ever mounting tension that foreshadows the impending doom of the shark's next victim. Populated with unique characters who each receive a fair amount of development, Jaws becomes the standard for a blockbuster film that succeeds through emotional connections, not purely spectacle. The greatest achievement of this classic movie is the way in which Speilberg trusts his audience to imagine things far scarier than anything he could ever put on the screen. Ultimately, Jaws stands the test of time and remains a highlight of Speilberg's illustrious career.

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4 Responses to “Friday Flicks: Jaws”

  1. This is a movie I have seen! I want to read the book though because that is something I haven't done. I would agree with you by saying that the imagination is a key factor here. Oh, and the music. The music really contributes to that suspenseful build up!

  2. Agreed! I've actually got the book on my kindle, so hopefully I'll get around to reading it.

  3. I've never read Jaws though I've always intended too. I've always loved the film version though it's been many years since I've watched. I really should rewatch it!!

    1. I'm always amazed at how many of my favorite movies were actually books. I definitely intend to read this one soon!


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