Release date: June 20, 1975
Director: Steven Spielberg
Carl Gottlieb and
Steven Spielberg's breakout film, Jaws is the perfect summer blockbuster, generating all the horror, thrills, suspense, and special effects you would expect from such a movie. Not extremely violent or gruesome like most horror films, the movie still manages to create an icy frost in every viewer's veins. Based on the true story of a great white shark (might have been a bull shark) which terrorized the shores of New Jersey in the summer of 1916, Jaws is a brilliant adaptation of Peter Benchley's best-selling novel inspired by the unfortunate incident. Jaws tells the story of man's eternal struggle against nature, a story so great it captures the imagination of every generation who hears it - from 1916 to 1975 and even to the present day.
Jaws takes place in the small New England beach resort of Amity Island, an excellent summer getaway for Northeastern tourists. But this Normal community paradise is about to be turned upside down. Late at night, a young couple decides to go swimming. But when the woman's destoryed body is washed ashore the next morning, it's clear to local authorities that she isn't a drowning victim. The medical examiner informs Police Chief Martin Brody (Roy Scheider) that the lady might have been attacked by a shark, but the Mayor Larry Vaughn (Murray Hamilton) refuses to hear it, fearing that public knowledge of a shark attack would kill their economy.
When another shark attacks occurs (unfotunately the victim this time being a boy), happening in broad daylight, the incident draws shark expert Matt Hooper (Richard Dreyfuss) to the area. Working with Chief Brody, Hooper comes up with the conclusion that a great white shark is responsible for the attacks, and the swimming population is in a lot of danger. Meanwhile, a shark hunter named Quint offers to find and kill the shark for $10,000, but the Mayor believes that price is too much. More and more community members will have to be slaughtered before he'll agree to acknowledge the seriousness of the problem, and when the authorities finally decide to go after the great white, that is when the real danger finally begins.
With brilliant direction and the top special effects (good even by today's standards), Jaws is a true edge-of-your-seat thriller littered with juicy suspense. The unknown is masterfully woven throughout the film with a crescendo effect that keeps the audience guessing until the final scene. Like any good movie, the shark is never shown in the opening scenes. Instead, the movie begins with an attack in near darkness which just adds to the suspense. The shark is alluded to... Even when the innocent boy is attacked in daylight, the audience is only able to see an exposed fin and the blood of the victim as it spreads across the water. This approach effectively combines fear of the unknown with the already present fear of the shark to create a chilling atmosphere for viewers. Is it any wonder then that Jaws was a blockbuster hit? (after all this film has a 100% approval rating at rotten tomatoes)
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