Classic Review: Jaws

Title:  Jaws
Directed by: Steven Spielberg
BluRay Streaming DVD
Starring: Roy Scheider, Robert Shaw, Richer Dreyfuss
Release Date: 6/20/1975
Reviewed by: Kaitlyn Carter
Rating: R
FA Scorecard: B

Everything about this film is iconic. From the simple two-note refrain of da dun . . . da dun to that classic poster with a whole lot of shark teeth showing,  there is nothing about this movie that isn’t classic. One can hardly discuss the fear of sharks without cracking a joke about acclaimed director Steven Spielberg’s classic film.

The small island town of Amity thrives during the summer months when mainlanders flood the town—and the beach. Chief of Police Brody left the streets of New York for this. He wanted the peace, tranquility, and the water. This is where “one man can make a difference” he declares. But it will take more than one man to face the rogue shark that is haunting Amity’s waters. When Brody teams up with marine biologist Hooper and the old seadog Captain Quint, the hunt actually begins.

Spielberg’s skills shine when giving his attention to the quirks of his characters. It’s the highlighting of these seemingly small details that make the most memorable moments in the film. Things like Hooper making faces and sticking his tongue out at Quint when things become heated in the cabin-feverish atmosphere on the ship. Brody deciding to decline the my-scar-is-bigger-than-yours battle with his boat mates. Amity’s mayor worrying over the town’s financial future. A toddler crying beside his sandcastle as the beach explodes in chaos over a shark scare. The expression shared between an older couple as they become the first to get out into the water on the 4th of July. These are all little moments, to be sure, but life is made up of little moments. After all, we cannot be fighting sharks all the time.

If you haven’t seen the movie yet, the next part of the review contains spoilers!

Speaking of hunting sharks, that’s a task that requires no small amount of courage. Jaws shows us time and time again that facing our sharks will require our bravery and pushing us outside our boundaries. Brody, for example,  despises the water after a near-drowning experience as a child.  Captain Quint has similar feelings after being stranded in the wayter post-submarine attack during the war. While awaiting rescue, Quint bravely fended off the sharks that fed on his fellow soldiers. This caused him to devote his life to hunting sharks. Throughout the course of this movie,  it’s clear that bravery can turn to hubris, and not even Captain Quint proves to be a match for this particular great white.

In the end, it’s Brody, equipped with extra glasses (and no small amount of Dramamine) who must overcome his fear of water and sharks in order to face the beast and protect his town. By no means was this what Brody signed up for as Amity’s chief of police, but life isn’t about choosing our battles, but how we face them.

Hopefully, most of us will not have to face a great white shark. That monster was in desperate need of a chill pill. And where there are killer sharks, there are some rather gruesome deaths. So if the cautiously slow refrain of da dun . . . da dun begins, consider yourself warned.

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