Monday, 20 April 2015

Film Review - Jaws (1975)

Fig.1 Jaws (1975) Movie Poster

Steven Spielberg's Jaws (1975) is a classic. This expertly crafted horror film reinvented Hollywood's approach to big films, but, although, it inevitably kept you at the cinema, it will definitely keep you out of the water. In Neil Smith's article for the BBC News, he says that " it was the movie that single-handedly ushered in a new era of blockbuster film-making" - (Smith, 2005)

Fig.2 Martin Brody (Played by Roy Scheider)

Surprisingly, the film is set in a beautifully colourful seaside town. This choice of setting is rather strange for what is, primarily, considered as a horror/thriller film. By today's standards, we are used to the, now familiar, dark, compact and mysterious settings, where we expect a monster to jump from the shadows. It is because of this that it makes the Shark's presence/actions that much more shocking. We see children playing, adults working, no crime is shown on screen - It is a wonderful place to live. This, therefore, raises the question "Is there always danger?" Interestingly, Jaws was released in 1975, the same year that the Vietnam War ended. Is the Shark representing the persistent threat of war, even when it looks to be safe? 

Fig.3 The Shark attacking the boat

Despite the fact that the film is based around the Shark's actions, it is rarely shown on screen. Today, we are familiar with many films where a specific character/monster is hardly seen, but it still makes the biggest impact, Hannibal Lecter in "The Silence of the Lambs" (1991) is another example of this - Although, this is a method that they were not used to in 1975, and would have expected to see more of the Shark. However, we are constantly aware of the Shark and we know in what scenes we are likely to see it. Consequently, we feel tense while watching these scenes as we know one of the film's trademark jump scares may occur at any moment. 

Arguably though, the most memorable thing about the film lies in the soundtrack. Modern audiences are now aware of Steven Spielberg's and John William's connection with each other, and the Jaws soundtrack is one of the key factors that prove the two work incredibly well together. Spielberg's dramatic use of camera angles combine brilliantly with William's wonderfully, haunting soundtrack, which is something we have all heard, regardless of whether you've seen the film or not. These scenes are, quite rightly, the most memorable as not only do they frighten us, but we are given the point of view of the Shark rather than the victim/victims. Judith Lucy refers to the brilliance of these scenes in her review by saying that "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). These sequences make us aware of the threat before it happens, something that the audiences of 1975 would not have been used to. 

Fig. 4 The Shark and Brody

Jaws is widely considered as one of Hollywood's greatest films. One of the films that makes us consider Spielberg to be one of the greatest directors of all time and it one film that should not be missed. Roger Ebert mentions the importance of the film in Spielberg's career as he says "Before "Jaws," he was known as the gifted young director of films" - (Ebert, 2000) and that "After "Jaws," "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" (1977) and "Raiders of the Lost Ark" (1981), he was the king." - (Ebert, 2000). The dramatic opening scene will get you hooked from the outset, and you will remain quivering in fear throughout.

Illustration List:
Fig.1 Jaws (1975) Movie Poster - (Accessed 20/04/2015)

Fig.2 Martin Brody (Played by Roy Scheider) - (Accessed 20/04/2015)

Fig.3 The Shark attacking the boat - (Accessed 20/04/2015)

Fig. 4 The Shark and Brody - (Accessed 20/04/2015)

Ebert, Roger (2000) - Jaws - - (Accessed 20/04/2015)

Lucy, Judith (2014) - Jaws: The Classic - - (Accessed 20/04/2015)

Smith, Neil (2005) - Shark Tale that changed Hollywood - - (Accessed 20/04/2015)

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