Just a quick reminder that My Thoughts On… posts may contain spoilers, so if you haven’t seen the film in question, please skip down to the section titled Why Should You See This Film? where you will find no spoilers!
When a gigantic great white shark begins to menace the small island community of Amity, a police chief, a marine scientist and grizzled fisherman set out to stop it. (via IMDb)
What I LIked
- I’ve been wanting to watch Jaws since forever. When I was little, it felt as though it was on every Saturday night, but I wasn’t allowed to watch it. My mum obviously thought it was too scary for a child, and so I grew up thinking it was terrifying. When I got to be a teenager, I was a bit of a wimp, so I assumed that it would be too scary for me to even try to watch. Then, a few years ago, I decided it was time I watched it, and when I heard it was being re-released in cinemas, I thought it was the perfect opportunity, only to find it was a very limited re-release. Then I saw it on DVD for a fiver, and fully intended to buy it, only to not actually do so. It feels as though the universe has been conspiring to ensure that I never see it for years, so when I stayed at my friends and she asked what films we should watch, I suggested Jaws, never expecting that it would actually happen. And then it did. Given all of what went before, I was a little worried that I had built it up to a point where it could only fail to live up to my expectations, but I loved it. Totally and utterly loved it.
- I really liked Roy Scheider as Brody. Not only does he manage to look totally hot in shorts and a shirt (not a reaction I expected to have to Roy Scheider, if I’m honest), he’s the perfect average Joe, the everyman who finds himself in a horrific situation, and manages to rise to the occasion and do what needs to be done.
- Richard Dreyfus is similarly well cast (if not as attractive to me as Roy Scheider is), as the nerdy, arrogant marine expert Matt Hooper. I particularly liked the way the friendship between Hooper and Brody develops, and I’m really glad that the decision was made not to include the infidelity storyline from the book, where Hooper sleeps with Brody’s wife. (Did you know that Jaws is really about infidelity, and not about a shark?)
- There was a specific moment when it became perfectly clear why my mum wouldn’t let me watch Jaws as a child; it will come as no surprise to anyone who has seen it what that moment is. When Ben Gardner’s head pops up underwater to greet Hooper as he is investigating the scene, I jumped out of my skin. Truly terrifying, and if I’d seen it as a child, I probably would have been traumatised. It’s one of many examples of great editing throughout the film; the head pops up at exactly the right moment, because although you know it’s coming, you aren’t given enough time to ready yourself before it does.
- Obviously I spent the entire film waiting for the quote: “You’re gonna need a bigger boat.” I thought I knew when it was going to come, but I was wrong! I love Brody’s reaction to the shark, because he doesn’t pretend to play it cool at all. The first time he says it, he’s shocked into near silence, but then he says it again: “You’re gonna need a bigger boat, right?” and then again! “Yeah, but we can radio in and get a bigger boat…” It really made me laugh. The Orca really is spectacularly small and not suitable at all for its purpose.
- The structure of the film works so well. There are many arguments as to whether or not Jaws has three acts or four, and as someone who has only watched it once, it’s not an argument that I want to wade into. Whether there are three or four, it works perfectly for me. The actual fight between the men and the shark (Bruce, not Jaws) plays out in almost real time, and it just ramped up the tension.
- OK, so it’s obvious, but without the music, Jaws just wouldn’t be as successful as it is. It’s so simple, and yet so effective!
- “That’s some bad hat, Harry.” I didn’t know that this was a quote from Jaws, so it was a nice surprise when Brody said it!
What I Didn’t Like
- I wasn’t fond of Quint. I understand that he’s supposed to be the Ahab character, but he wasn’t my favourite. I enjoyed the scene where he and Hooper were comparing battle wounds, but generally, I wasn’t sad to see him meet a grisly end! I also had major problems with Robert Shaw’s accent at times. It just veered off all over the place!
- The worst part of the entire film was Quint dragging his nails down the blackboard. I couldn’t quite get my fingers in my ears quickly enough, and even just sitting here typing it is giving me weird shivers. Sometimes when I am laying in bed and just about to fall asleep, I remember it, and it’s not a nice experience.
Why Should You See This Film?
Again, this is another film that I am the last person in the world to watch. I had seen bits of Jaws 2 and Jaws 3, to my shame, but never the original. If you haven’t seen it, there’s a reason why it’s considered a classic. It’s a very, very good film, with genuine scares and huge amounts of brilliant tension. It has a famous score, a famous quote, and a famous shark. It’s amazing, and I want to watch it again already.