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Directed by Academy Award® winner Steven Spielberg, Jaws set the standard for edge-of-your-seat suspense quickly becoming a cultural phenomenon and forever changing the movie industry. When the seaside community of Amity finds itself under attack by a dangerous great white shark, the town’s chief of police (Roy Scheider), a young marine biologist (Richard Dreyfuss) and a grizzled shark hunter (Robert Shaw) embark on a desperate quest to destroy the beast before it strikes again. Featuring an unforgettable score that evokes pure terror, Jaws remains one of the most influential and gripping adventures in motion picture history.
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Jaws is easily without question one of the all time greatest movies ever, and it is also been my favorite movie ever since I first saw it in it's full entirety when I was 11, and it is still my favorite movie to this very day. I just absolutely love this movie. I could just watch it over and over and never grow tired of it at all whatsoever. Penned as the original summer blockbuster, this 1975 film classic forever set the standards for the edge-of-your seat suspense and instantly became a cultural phenomenon, shattered box office records and forever changed the movie industry. Directed by legendary director Steven Spielberg, and also featuring an unforgettable soundtrack score courtesy of John Williams, Jaws remains one of Hollywood's most influential and gripping adventures in motion picture history. The film itself also received an Academy Award nominee for Best Picture ("One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" would go on to win that award), but it would go on to win three other Academy Awards including for film editing (Verna Fields), music score (John Williams) and best sound (Robet Hoyt, Roger Heman, Earl Madery and John Carter) as well. And yes, while Steven Spielberg would go on to direct other masterpieces such as "Close Encounters of the Third Kind", "Raiders of the Lost Ark", "E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial", "Jurassic Park", "Schindler's List", "Saving Private Ryan", etc, but Jaws in my humble opinion remains Spielberg's ultimate and definitive masterpiece hands down, and it would also put Spielberg on the map and forever made him a household name director wise as well. Being such a huge fan of Jaws, I am very happy and fortunate to own several VHS and DVD copies (including the 1983 MCA Home Video VHS release) and of course this Blu-Ray edition which I'm gonna be reviewing at this time.
Based on Peter Benchley's best selling novel of the same name and shot on location on Martha's Vineyard in Massachusetts, the film's story centers around a giant man-eating great white shark wreaking havoc on beachgoers in the fictional New England summer resort town of Amity Island thus prompting the town's local police chief Martin Brody (Roy Scheider) to join forces with old grizzled shark fisherman Quint (Robert Shaw) and young marine biologist Matt Hooper (Richard Dreyfuss) to put an end to the monster's reign of aquatic terror once and for all. The film itself is also notorious for it's troubled production which included having a troubled shoot and going far over budget and past schedule, as well as the full-sized mechanical monster shark nicknamed "Bruce" having frequently malfunctioned at sea during filming in the Atlantic Ocean, and among other things. However Spielberg and the rest of his crew would manage to turn what could've been a major disaster into a triumphant and timeless masterpiece.
The films starts off with a young girl named Chrissie Watkins who leaves a party on Amity Island and decides to go for a swim. While swimming out near a buoy, Chrissie is soon seized by something from below, and she is then violently thrashed around and pulled under the ocean. Chrissie Watkins' death scene in the opening of the movie is unquestionably one of the most legendary scenes in the history of film ever.
The next day, Amity police chief Martin Brody investigates the problem after finding Chrissie's partial remains on the shore. The medical examiner informs Brody that Chrissie's death was due to a shark attack. Brody plans to close the beaches but is overruled by the town's mayor Larry Vaughn, who fears that reports of a shark attack will ruin the summer tourist season, the town's primary source of income. The medical examiner consequently attributes the death to a boating accident. Brody reluctantly goes along with the explanation. The shark then kills a young boy named Alex Kintner while swimming at the town beach. His mother places a bounty on the shark, sparking an amateur shark-hunting frenzy and attracting the attention of local professional shark hunter Quint, who offers to hunt and kill the shark for $10,000. Meanwhile, Brody enlists the help of marine biologist Matt Hooper who examines Chrissie's remains and determines that she was killed by a shark, not a boat. A large tiger shark is caught by fishermen, leading the townspeople to believe the problem is solved. Hooper asks to examine its stomach contents, but Vaughn refuses. That night, Brody and Hooper secretly open the shark's stomach and discover that it does not contain any human remains. They head out to sea on Hooper's boat to find the shark, but instead find the wreckage of a half-sunken boat belonging to local fisherman Ben Gardner. Hooper explores the vessel underwater and discovers a sizable great white shark's tooth embedded inside the damaged hull before he is startled by Gardner's partial corpse, causing him to drop the tooth. Without evidence, Vaughn refuses to close the beaches or hire Quint to hunt and kill the shark.
Many tourists arrive on the Fourth of July. A prank by two kids with a cardboard cut-out of a shark fin causes panic at the main beach while the real great white shark enters a nearby estuary and kills a man in a rowboat. Brody's son Michael, who narrowly escapes the attack, goes into shock. Brody finally convinces Vaughn to hire Quint, and Quint reluctantly allows Hooper and Brody to join in on the hunt. The three heroes set out to sea to kill the shark aboard Quint's vessel, The Orca.
While at sea, Brody is given the task of laying a chum line, and as he is chucking away chum and blood away over his shoulder to attract the shark, suddenly an enormous great white looms up behind the boat startling Brody which then leads him to reply to Quint: "You're gonna need a bigger boat!" As the trio watches the shark circle around the Orca, Quint estimates it's size as twenty-five feet in length, with a weight of over three tons. He harpoons it with a line attached to a flotation barrel, but the shark pulls the barrel underwater and disappears. We then get to my favorite scene in the movie where our heroes retire to the vessel's cabin that night, where they show off and compare each other's scars and wounds, and Quint relates his experiences with sharks as a survivor of the tragic sinking of the USS Indianapolis. This is definitely my favorite scene in the whole movie here. The dialogue delivered by Robert Shaw in this particular scene is just absolutely brilliant and impeccable, and also very chilling beyond words, you just can't even dare to take your eyes off the screen when he delivers that speech. It is just pure genius. And as the trio are singing "Show Me the Way to Go Home", the shark suddenly returns, damages the hull and slips away. It reappears the next morning. Brody attempts to call the U.S. Coast Guard, but Quint destroys the radio, enraging Brody. After a long chase, Quint harpoons two more barrels to the shark, and the men tie them both to the stern, but the shark drags the boat backwards, forcing water onto the deck and flooding the engine. Quint severs the line to prevent the transom from being cut. He then heads toward shore, hoping to draw it into shallow waters and suffocate it. In his obsession to kill the shark, Quint burns out the Orca's engine.
With the boat immobilized, the trio attempt a desperate approach: Hooper dons scuba gear and enters the ocean inside a shark proof cage, intending to lethally inject the shark with a hypodermic spear filled with strychnine. The shark attacks and demolishes the cage from behind, causing Hooper to drop the spear before he can inject it. When the shark becomes entangled in the wrecked cage, Hooper escapes and hides in the seabed. The shark then leaps onto the boat and attacks it directly, crushing the transom. Quint slides down the deck and is devoured alive by the shark. When the shark attacks again, Brody shoves a pressurized scuba tank into its mouth, then takes Quint's rifle and climbs the sinking Orca's mast. The shark, with the tank still in its mouth, begins swimming toward Brody, who shoots the tank, causing it to explode and blowing the shark to pieces. Hooper swims to the surface and he and Brody use the barrels to swim back to shore.
All in all, Jaws is just absolutely perfect on every level of movie making. The characters are so incredibly well developed, so well that the audience can feel their fears, emotions and of course stupidity when they're supposed to. The screenplay courtesy of Peter Benchley and Carl Gottlieb is also very tight and well written, and Spielberg's direction is just downright masterful and top notch throughout. His timing is superb and he does an incredible job at mixing suspense, horror, comedy and adventure to brilliant and genuine effect. He really makes the audience feel like they are nothing but puppets in his fingers and the way he pulls peoples strings whenever he wants them to feel whether it be scared or horrified or even amused is just masterfully done. For a good example, take Alex Kintner's death scene. It all starts with a bunch of people playing on the beach and in the water while Brody is watching intently. We along with Brody hear playful screams from a young girl, and then we see a young man and his dog playing fetch the stick, and then later when the stick is floating in the water, the dog is nowhere to be found. Then we finally see young Alex who goes out into the water with his raft. More kids are then seen splashing around, and following that, there's a shot approaching Alex paddling away on his raft from underwater thus showcasing the shark's point of view, and then composer John Williams' music hits and of course we all know what happens from that moment on. That scene just shows how truly masterful Spielberg can be at manipulating the audiences by showing the shark's point of view via camera rather than showing the shark entirely in the early stages of the film. And of course, that's what made Jaws so gripping is that Spielberg didn't show his monster until most of the second half of the film. Until then, you only saw people in the water reacting to attacks, screaming and writhing as the invisible killer underneath them turned the water blood red. The music score courtesy of John Williams is what really drives this brilliant piece of cinema from the very beginning to the very end. If there's one specific word to decribe Williams' score in Jaws and that one word would have to be 'incredible' especially that infamous main shark theme (which is a simple alternating pattern of two notes - variously identified as "E and F" or 'F and F sharp") which is no doubt a classic piece of suspense music, and is very synonymous with danger approaching. According to John, the main theme was meant to represent the shark as an instinctual, relentless and unstoppable force. Whenever you hear that theme, you know danger is approaching and things are definitely getting serious here.
The acting from the cast in the film not to also mention is very brilliant in every sense of the word as well. You've got Roy Scheider who gives an amazing performance as Amity police chief Martin Brody, the film's main hero as he is determined to close the beaches and protect the beachgoers despite Mayor Larry Vaughn's objections, and he also has his fear of the ocean put to the ultimate test along the way. Richard Dreyfuss is also perfectly cast as Matt Hooper, the young marine biologist whom Brody calls in to lend a hand with the shark crisis and he also tends to land in some very funny bits in along the way especially during the scene in which he and Quint are comparing each others scars, and of course, you've got Robert Shaw whose memorable performance as Quint, the crusty, old and grizzled shark hunter whose character is both funny at times and very chilling at others as well. His famous Indianapolis speech is without question absolutely chilling and powerful beyond words, and I always find myself memorizing every single line from his speech everytime I watch that scene. Just absolutely pure genius. The overall chemistry of Scheider, Shaw and Dreyfuss is just absolute perfection as seen in the second half when they're all out at sea on Quint's vessel, The Orca, and it showcases the growing respect and bond among the three men. You also have Lorraine Gary who is excellent as Brody's wife Ellen who is also the mother of Brody's two young sons, Michael (Chris Rebello) and Sean (Jay Mello), and Murray Hamilton is also fantastic as the town's mayor Larry Vaughn who despite Brody's warnings is more concerned about the summer economy and keeping the beaches open.
Now, as for the Blu-Ray edition here goes, it is just absolutely amazing, and not to also mention the overall picture quality and sound is just top notch. It's also filled with a boatload of awesome bonus material which includes a documentary entitled, "The Shark is Still Working" which is narrated by Scheider himself, and provides an amazing in-depth look at the trials and tribulations into the making of this film and how Spielberg took what could've been a terrible disaster in resulting in having his directing career sink to the bottom, but triumphantly turned Jaws into a timeless masterpiece that continues to keep generations out of the water and also inspire those to get into the film business at the same time. Bottom line, Jaws is an absolute masterpiece of suspense and terror. Absolutely brilliant in every sense of the word, and they'll never be another masterpiece like it...Period!!!
I will not bother reviewing the movie for its plot or production values, that has been done by many others here. But I will say that when the movie was released in 1975, I thought it was a bit overrated after having looked forward very much to seeing it, but upon viewing it recently on TV and then purchasing this Blu-ray and viewing it in even better high-definition quality than on TCM, I enjoy the story itself more, and I'm very glad at having purchased this Blu-ray.
If you don't already know this, I wouldn't recommend this for small children. Unless YOU have a terrible fear of the water and you don't want your kids to swim...
Earns my official seal of approval.
2015. Just saw it again....no change to make in my remarks. I enjoyed it, yet again...although this time I did find Shaw's performance clearly ''over the top". I note all the reviews knocking this particular reissue....not having had any other copies...this was good enough for me back then.....and still is good enough for me today since I lack most of the high powered stuff that goes into a contemporary set.