I doubt this movie needs much of an introduction but just in case:
When a killer shark unleashes chaos on a beach community, it’s up to a local sheriff, a marine biologist, and an old seafarer to hunt the beast down.
Amity Island had everything. Clear skies. Gentle surf. Warm water. People flocked there every summer. It was the perfect feeding ground.
Spielberg’s seminal masterpiece Jaws is the same age as me. 42 years old this year and boy, is it looking good. I was able to catch in on the big screen on Monday night and I’m so happy about it.
The film, with its exquisite tension building, is practically perfect in every way – and I’m reminded once again, a) why I love it so much and b) why I never go in the water. Again, it really needs no introduction but Amity Island Chief of Police, Brody (Scheider) is dismayed when a young woman’s mangled body is found on the beach after what appears to be a vicious shark attack.
Here’s to swimmin’ with bow-legged women. ~ Quint
When his fears are confirmed by the authorities, he jumps into action quickly, moving to shut down the beaches and get people out of the water STAT. Unfortunately, Amity Mayor Vaughn (Murray Hamilton ) thinks he’s jumping the gun and the coroner goes back on his original diagnosis, stating the death was in fact caused by a drunken boating accident.
Brody is still on high alert but concedes that they are probably right – but when another victim is claimed, this time a young boy – all hell breaks loose. Not only does his grieving mother hold him personally responsible, Brody is also up against a stubborn Vaughn who refuses to close the beach on upcoming 4th of July weekend. Summer money is what keeps the island ticking over after all. When the boy’s mother reveals that she’s willing to pay a healthy reward to whoever catches the killer shark, there’s an influx of optimistic fishermen on the water.
My husband tells me you’re in sharks. ~ Ellen Brody
They catch the Tiger shark responsible and life goes back to normal for everyone. Oh, except Jaws is a Great White and he’s still out there, snacking on the general public. The arrival of the Cutest Little Marine Biologist™ Hooper (Dreyfus) confirms that the victims were taken down by something with a much bigger bite – and, with the help of salty ol’ seadog Quint (Shaw) – the three of them set off to find and destroy him. Which might all be too much for water phobic Brody. (I hear you, hun).
Tell them I’m going fishing. ~ Chief Brody
The whole film is a trip with an ominous tone that doesn’t let up, not ever but particularly when something bad is ushered in with John Williams’ theme. We always know when Jaws is about to strike but it never fails to make me jump out of my skin. Later, in the show down in deep water there is less signposting and I shrieked aloud a few times, even though I knew what was coming.
By far my favourite parts are between the three men, particularly the scene in which Hooper and Quint compare scars on the Orca. Up until this point there has been a real sharpness between them, with Quint looking down on rich kid Hopper with his ‘city hands’. This cements a friendship that could have (sea)legs if only they could all get to land safely. Unfortunately, our fast fish has other ideas and he’s due one last snack before bedtime…
Quint also reveals he was on the USS Indianapolis and lost a lot of friends to feeding tiger sharks, which explains an awful lot about his motivations. The man dedicates his life to the culling of these man-eaters but the sadness is his eye as he regales his new friends is truly heart-breaking. The central three are all great, well rounded characters but Quint is legendary.
You’re gonna need a bigger boat. ~ Brody
It was such a treat to revisit this and to view it on a proper screen. I paid attention in a way I never do at home and it’s still firmly in my top ten of all-time favourite movies. I’m quite tempted to work my way through the rest of the series, even though they get progressively worse. I always had a soft spot for Jaws 2, anyway.