"You're going to need a Bigger Boat..."
On February 11,2008, almost a year ago, Roy Scheider, the actor who said the famous line in this enduring classic monster film passed on to the next life. What better way to wrap up my horror "reviewing streak" than to pay tribute to one of the lead actors in the best monster film ever made. I will review this as a film made in 1975 and not in 2000, it would be unfair to review a classic as modern one.
JAWS (1975) is the first film to reach the $ 100 million dollar mark, surpassing "The Exorcist" and even "The Omen". I've always said that the best horror films are the ones that hit close to home, with factors anyone can relate to. "Jaws" made a lot of people so afraid to go into the water. Masterfully directed by Steven Spielberg, based on Peter Benchley's novel which was inspired by the New Jersey Shark attacks of 1916 dubbed; "The Summer of Fear". The film is truly an enduring classic and such a phenomenon. It proves once again that you don't need demons, vampires, werewolves and boogeymen to induce a good scare.
Amity Island is an isolated place where tourism is the townsfolk's bread and butter. Families on summer vacation go to Amity (means friendship?) to have a great time. A series of deaths that could have been committed by a huge shark threatens lives and the town's well-being alike. Chief Brody (Roy Scheider), with the aid of marine biologist; Matt Hooper ( Richard Dreyfuss) and a shark hunter named Quint (Robert Shaw) has to overcome bureaucracy, and their emotions to bring the 25 ft. monster down.
Everyone knows the film's plot and premise, honestly, I've seen "Jaws" countless times. I first saw the film on television back in 1980 (too bad I was too young to see it in theaters); I was a child then. I can tell you that the film is so well-directed and effective that even an 8 year old could feel the chills and excitement. So what made "Jaws" so great? The haunting music, the feel of the unknown in the beginning, the well-rounded and interesting characters, and of course, the giant Great White Shark. The film was fated to be in the annals of excellent film-making; some of the awesome ingredients weren't done by intention. The shark wasn't seen in the first half because the mechanical model wouldn't work, who would think that this setback would prove to be the film's strongest gimmick? Thankfully, the filmmakers didn't give up and kept on with the production. Spielberg was in his twenties when he made the film, who knew that he would become one of the most renowned directors of our time? "Jaws" had the hand of fate working for it.
The characters in "Jaws" are actually the ones who really carried the film. The performances by its cast headed by the trio of Scheider, Dreyfuss and Shaw "clicked" so well; viewers can easily form an attachment to them. Scheider is a cop who left the city for a small town to avoid the dangers of urban cop life; he hates the water and who figured that he'd come face to face with a 25 ft. shark? Dreyfuss is a marine biologist with a passion for sharks; he loves them and studies them relentlessly. He uses his own money to fund his research most of the time. The most interesting character for me is Quint, played by Robert Shaw; he's a shark hunter who seems loosely based on Moby Dick's Captain Ahab. Quint apparently had a traumatizing experience involving sharks during his tenure in the USS Indianapolis. All the lead characters have a link to the star of the film: "Bruce" the mechanical shark. Although "Bruce" may be a bit dated by today's standards, but trust me, this film is timeless, not because of its special effects, but the excellent script, direction and well-developed characters. Gosh, even the boat called "Orca" is a character in itself.
Add the award-winning musical score by John Williams, the film definitely exudes intimidation. Obviously, Spielberg and Benchley had some disagreements on the script but everything worked so well that even though the film had major differences from the original book, I would easily forgive its differences from the source material. I truly thought that the film was made with care and creativity. There is no wasted moment in its proceedings, even the supporting characters carry a lot of depth.
"JAWS" was so successful that it spawned 3 sequels and a lot of knock-offs such as "Orca The Killer Whale", the Italian spin-off; "Great White" a.k.a. "The Last Jaws", Tentacles, Piranha and many others. The film is definitely one of the most brilliant, defining moments in film. It is a timeless masterpiece, which will undoubtedly endure forever and make future generations afraid to go back in the water.
It will forever be the measuring stick for all future monster films. `nuff said.
HIGHEST POSSIBLE RECOMMENDATION! [5 stars]
This review is dedicated to Roy Scheider....
What did you think of this review?