I think I was too young to see this at the theater, so I eventually saw a TV version of this. (In a way that’s good, because it wouldn’t have ruined the beach for me.) Anyway, I loved the film. It was one of those that I would watch any time it came on TV. (I think it would be true today.) For me, what makes it work isn’t just the suspense and horror, but the characters and the way the storyline incoporates who the characters are. There’s Chief Brody who comes to Amity Island to get away from all the violence of a big city. He’s going after a shark when he’s a afraid of water. There’s Hooper, the smart aleck college kid versus Quint, the wizened old salt—with Brody between them.
So has this film held up? What makes it work and what makes it not work? Where do you stand on this film?
Here’s another question: is this primarily an entertainment film or can we make a case that the film deals with important issues in a serious way?
Spielberg has a new movie coming out called War Horse. He’ll have an old warhorse and a new one.
Also, Jaws, though it’s not really among my favorite Spielbergs, is a machine of a movie. Beautifully paced and throughly entertaining.
I like the beginning of the film but I hated the fight with the shark at the end.
…It’s primarily an entertainment film.
Its Spielberg doing Hitchcock, and it is more or less his best film, although Amistad and Schindler’s List are both good as well.
The film is bolstered by a cast of fine actors, and if memory serves, there are none of those wtf moments that you have in nearly all Spielberg films.
Its Spielberg doing Hitchcock
This is why I like to describe Jaws as a machine, which is a good thing, imo. It moves along so deliberately, so perfectly. It’s definitely in that category of movies that I appreciate and even enjoy quite a bit while watching, but can’t seem to love.
I think it still holds up. It has an earnestness that you don’t see in modern blockbusters that may try to ape it, born no doubt from the naive hubris of its director. I’ve seen it so many goddam times since I was a kid it’s hard to be objective, though. I still feel closer to Raiders of the Lost Ark.
A masterpiece! It is Spielberg doing Hitchcock and succeeding totally. It’s a genre film willing to break down genre boundaries as both a great horror and great action piece. And it slows down when it needs to for moments like the Robert Shaw speech.
The film has so many great moments, and is one of my favourites. It stands with Schindler’s List and E.T as my three clear Spielberg favourites. This was pretty much the first film I fell in love with as a child, so it holds a spot close to my heart that other films do not, at least not in that same special way. I saw Jaws before I had seen any Hitchcock, or other notable filmmakers for that matter. I feel that the pace is perfect, building up a slow recognition in the town and indivituals as to the multiple dangers at stake, including those who have economic income matters to deal with. The theme of man vs himself, man vs each other, and man vs nature. I love how the film shifts to the boat in the second half, as we deal with the battles (beautifully drawn), the arguments, and the cameraderie of the three principals. Put simply, one of my 100 favourite films.
I think the film has a conflict between the scientific approach to shark behavior at the beginning and the very un-scientific approach at the very end.
There’s nothing wrong with having a shark fight scene like that, so long as you don’t establish shark behavior as realistic for the first hour of the film.
I prefer Raiders Of The Lost Ark. It’s a film that makes no pretense of realism and is just complete fun throughout.
^^ Jirin, Is it normal for a shark to repeatedly attack people in the same area, as though sent on a primal mission from the devil? I’m wondering, what realistic behaviour is established in the first hour?
It’s just great story telling. Spielberg has a gift for that and this movie is a shining example. I could care less about the science part the shark had me from the first bite.
Or perhaps, are you refering to the logical ponderings of the principals, like Brody trying to grasp shark behaviour and becoming confused, or Hooper’s scientific approach to capturing the shark?
In the end, I believe its Quint’s vicious ideology that bursts forth, and the animal instincts needed to “slay the beast” overpower, and all attempts to defeat the beast “scientifically” are discarded.
Hoffman’s character talks about sharks very scientifically. I don’t know if it’s accurate that a shark will repeatedly come back to a place it finds food, but the movie certainly sold it.
I thought the fight at the end was very bad storytelling. The scene where the shark jumped up on the side of the ship was just “Oh, come on.” That’s not about the scientific stuff, it was just plain silly.
Fair enough Jirin, I found the film to be very well balanced, but to each his own.
that’s moby dick tho, isn’t it? i really like jaws. it has much better characters then you’d ever find in a summer blockbuster these days
Wait…so the movie sold the idea of a shark coming back to a certain spot to hunt, almost vengefully; then the movie depicts just that, and it somehow betrays the scientific parts? Maybe I’m not understanding this, but it’s definitely not computing for me.
I thought the shark jumping on the side of the ship made perfect sense, given that the shark is bat-shit insane.
Isn’t there a theme park somewhere where a “Jaws” can come jumping up onto your boat and scare you?
Seriously though, a good ol’ 70s suspense thing going on in that film. I think it still holds up, again, a big deal for its time.
I miss Spielberg. Come back to us, director of Poltergeist, and replace this imposter…
FYI: Spielberg didn’t direct Poltergeist, Tobe Hooper did. Spielberg did produce, though, and his fingerprints are all over it.
Amistad?! It’s not a terrible film, but I was just surprised to hear this one mentioned.
And it slows down when it needs to for moments like the Robert Shaw speech.
Or the scene where they get drunk on the boat. “Show me the way to go home…” I think Quint also reveals the reason for shark hunting in that scene, too. (The U.S.S. Indianapolis, was it?)
_The scene where the shark jumped up on the side of the ship was just “Oh, come on.” _
Wait, are you talk about the very end when the shark jumps on the boat, tilting it, while Quint slides towards the shark? Are you sure that’s not realistic?
I miss Spielberg. Come back to us,…
I want the Jaws, Duel and Raiders of the Lost Ark Spielberg back. If he kept making films in that vein, oh man…
Duel is my favorite Spielberg flick, I think. There is nothing cute whatesoever about it.
Yep. The non-cute Spielberg is the director I want back!
Um…whether you liked these movies or not, “cute” is not a word I would use to describe Munich or Minority Report. Though I gotta admit that the forthcoming Tin Tin movie looks abysmal.
Minority Report wasn’t exactly “cute,” but it did have treacly family melodrama that pervades much of Spielberg’s films after Raiders. However, I don’t really recall this element in Munich.
I found Minority Report entertaining and no, it was not cute. I haven’t seen Munich.
What I liked about Duel is that it was very lean. But that’s a certain kind of film, and of course there’s room for the big budget extravaganzas in the movie world too.
FWIW, My Problem with Steven Spielberg
i still think sugarland express is great and one of goldie hawn’s finest performances. i wish she’d done more drama. minority report’s completely unrealistic ending i like to read as a dream sequence lol. i also enjoyed munich. trailer for the war horse i saw looked horribly sentimental. love raiders and last crusade!
Close Encounters of the Third Kind is probably where Spielberg’s concern for the nuclear family really begins. Fathers distracted by something more exciting than family duties.
richard dreyfus’ level of obsession was frightening to me as a kid. i saw the film recently and it holds up pretty well. i like it better than e.t.