Arguably the most famous filmmaker in the world, Steven Speilberg is revered for the masterpieces he’s made over the years, but whilst some director take a little while to find their flow and make their first great film, Spielberg achieved on his third go ground, when he made the iconic Jaws, which last week celebrated it’s 41st anniversary.
Now you all know the story of Jaws; deaths start occurring in a seaside town, and the chief of police (Roy Scheider) is convinced it’s a shark, but the mayor puts his business above the safety of his people so it’s up to Chief Brody, with the help of Captain Quint (Robert Shaw) and oceanographer Matt Hooper (Richard Dreyfuss). Now Jaws is famous not only for being an outstanding film, but for being the first ever blockbuster; it was the first “must see” film, the kind that people waited in line for hours for. Along with Star Wars, it kick started the idea of having films with high octane concepts that could make a ton of money (It was the highest grossing film of all time until Star Wars came out), and look how far we’ve come with that. It’s fair to say that Jaws is one of the most important films ever made.
Jaws is an outstanding film on all accounts; it’s tense as hell with that iconic John Williams score and it’s inventive use of camera, it’s scary in a way that doesn’t rely on jump scares (Though there are a few, and they are terrifying) to briefly shock the audience, and there’s a large sense of adventure and heroism to it. But perhaps the most the impressive thing about Jaws is how Spielberg went from 0 to 100 within the space of one film. Until then, he’d only made Duel and The Sugarland Express, the former being an ambitious yet flawed first effort and the latter being a boring slug of a movie with some redeeming qualities, so to go from that to a near perfect film is unbelievable. It was the first Spielberg to not be horrendously slow, and the first to actually work well as a feature film and not be better a short.
This was the film where he became the director we know and love today. All of his tropes are in there, and it just has his touch, his love and care towards the crafting of this film that propel this to such great heights. Fact is, it’s not 1975 anymore….The shark looks terrible. We know that now. We’ve seen much better. So why is the film still so effective? Because Spielberg knew what he had to work around and he made every other aspect of the film almost flawless. The casting was excellent, with all three leads turning some of their best performances, especially Shaw when he delivers what is now considered to be one of the greatest movie monologues of all time. It’s chilling, engrossing and hard not to love .
Jaws is quite a stock answer to the “Best films of all time” question, but much like Spielberg, there’s a reason it’s a stock answer; it’s fucking good. Jaws is one of the best films ever made, and one of Spielberg’s best by far.
Catch more sharks in The Meg!