Jaws Film Review 1975 Directed by Steven Spielberg

Fig.1: The Movie Jaws was the film that for a long time, caused people to be too afraid to go in the water. An adaptation of the novel by Peter Benchley of the same title, the story is essentially about a giant great white shark which attacks locals in a small fishing village. This is a relatively simple story, but what makes the film so engaging seems to be a combination of natural acting, unique and clever use of camera angles, and the main feature, the shark itself. This film proves that less is more; there are more POV shots and shots of oblivious swimmers, than the actual shark. John Williams provided the theme score for the shark. Whenever he is present, the audience can hear the familiar and frightening music.

Fig.2: Brody Vs. Shark

The shark was originally designed to be a mechanical shark. Spielberg hired Bob Mattey, creator of the giant squid from film 20,000 leagues under the sea, to work on building three individual sharks for the film. Due to many problems during production and the sharks actually malfunctioning, this led to Spielberg making the decision to film only a few shots of the shark. The scenes that do feature the shark can seem a little dated and fake at times, though overall the clever and tactical editing by Verna Fields, made the shark appear real; by for example cutting a shot just at the right time to prevent the audience from taking in the shark fully. The image above is one of the few moments in the film where the audience actually sees the shark close up; even here the shark is only on screen for a short moment.

Fig.3: Quint Vs. Shark

The image above shows a more unrealistic moment in the film. We see the sheer size of the shark at last, and it is a bit unbelievable and takes the audience out of the moment. The film presents the idea of a killer shark as something that could actually happen, and which brings the point that the idea of a giant killer shark is a rather goofy idea, which has been played for laughs in films such as Deep Blue Sea. Spielberg seemed to be aware of this, and incorporated humor in the film. Writer Carl Gottlieb co-wrote the screenplay alongside Benchley, the original author. Spielberg juxtaposes humor with suspense in jaws. In the scene where Brody is feeding fish into to the sea in order to attract the great white, he makes a quip to the others about the dirty job they’ve given him to do “ why don’t you come down and chum some of this sh*t?” This the cue for the audience to laugh. But instantly that laughter is quelled by the first real appearance of the shark followed by the stunned and shocked reaction of Brody. This is followed by yet another joke “we’re gonna need a bigger boat”. Siskel  says that this is an example of the  clever way Spielberg ‘manipulates’ his audience ‘guiding and directing’ them throughout the film.

Sources fig.1: http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-tcHGd3bOEW0/UFwBexnSPRI/AAAAAAAADNA/ led5MXZUeBU/s1600/Jaws.jpg Fig.2:http://www.jawsmovie.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/01/jaws3.jpg Fig.3:http://www.horrorstew.com/images/Jaws6.jpg http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UjvDWQMLJV0 SISKEL & EBERT MOVIE REVIEW -- "JAWS" (1975)