Classic Film Kid: Jaws
Hi everyone, you probably – no, definitely – won’t know who the heck I am. I’m an 11yr old kid, as well as a massive movie obsessive who is always wanting to see new films when they come out, I absolutely love talking about films, but some of the greatest film classics I have not seen yet (or at least, ones I’m old enough to watch). So this will be a series in which I watch classic films and give you my opinions on them like an “Are They Really Classics?” sort of thing.
We are starting off these reviews with the classic summertime blockbuster thriller, the film that made people scared to go swimming in the sea, Steven Spielberg’s first major film, Jaws. I’ll just give you a little bit of background on why Jaws is a classic.
At the time of making Jaws, Steven Spielberg was a fairly new-kid-on-the-block director. Having only made two smaller films, Duel and The Sugarland Express, this was definitely a challenge for Spielberg. This was also the first proper summer blockbuster we get nowadays and was the first movie ever to gross more than $100,000,000 at the U.S box office.
For those of you who haven’t seen Jaws or (worst of all) not even heard of it, it is about this seaside town in America which is being terrorized by a deadly shark that roams the waters. It is starting to kill and injure people and a few residents of this town get together to bring down this shark, and a fish-out-of-water story involving the main character, Chief Brody (Roy Scheider) is woven in there as well.
You’re probably thinking, well, that’s not really original, we’ve seen that times before, especially the fish-out-of-the-water story, but to me, it doesn’t matter if the idea has been used before, it’s how you execute it that’s the important thing to focus on. And Jaws executes it amazingly. YES, this is a classic.
What they execute the best in Jaws is, by far, the suspense. The first scene in Jaws starts off with black screen and weird sounds before we see from a shark’s POV with John Williams’ intense score (which by the way is fantastic) with some aquatic noises, and all them elements that I just mentioned set the tone for the film perfectly and immediately drop the suspense on you, and it never goes away until the end of the film.
What I also think adds to the intensity is that everyone in the town is completely on edge. They rarely have a second to relax as the shark could attack someone else at any time, and even kill a loved one, and this is what keeps the film’s momentum going, as for a suspense film, it is quite long, at a runtime of 126 minutes, so, therefore, it is an absolute wonder that they managed to keep the audience’s attention for that long.
I also love the characters in this film, they’re all very likable and have some great actor performances into them as well. My personal favourite is the main character, Chief Brody, played excellently by Roy Scheider. This guy is an ex-New York cop and is getting adjusted to his new place of work, further explaining the fish-out-of-water scenario. You definitely root for this guy and want him to succeed. Robert Shaw’s Quint is also a very good character, but there was the occasional moment where I did think he was a bit over-the-top. It didn’t grate on me that much but sometimes I just felt a bit awkward.
Something else I seriously love that adds to the tension created is that, for the vast majority of the film, you don’t see the shark. You see from the shark’s point-of-view and characters in the water screaming in pain, before sinking, but you don’t actually see the shark until about two-thirds of the way through. And I have to mention that the setting is also great, it is absolutely perfect for this type of film genre (which in this case is a summertime thrill-ride) and gives plenty of chance for the antagonist, which in this case is a shark, plenty of chances to kill someone on the beach.
By the way, surely people wouldn’t be so utterly dim-witted and idiotic to go to the beach and paddle in the sea when there is a shark that is targeting the shoreline. Why haven’t the American government, or this place’s council, or whatever, barricaded this place, put bars there, or just generally put up a warning sign, saying that if they go on the beach, a shark will rip their head off?
There is a slight problem with Jaws, however, and it isn’t a massive problem, but there are a few moments in the second act where it feels as if it’s lulling a bit, the tension is slightly going away, but then pretty much the next second the tension’s right there again and you completely forget that there was a moment there which wasn’t really as tension-filled as it could have been.
Overall, Jaws is a fabulously crafted thriller, with some great tension, great performances and characters, and some of the best music and camerawork that has ever been put to the screen. I’ll probably give Jaws a 9.5 out of 10, it’s that close to perfect. Like I said, there are a couple of moments where you feel the tension is just slightly fading, but then it’s Bam!, it’s back to being brilliant!
So thank you for reading everyone. We’re thinking of some films like Indiana Jones, Star Wars, and possibly 2001 by Stanley Kubrick next, but I’m going to have to think about that because that film is absolutely insane. Until the next time guys, goodbye and most importantly, watch Jaws!