Play It Again: Jaws

play it again

“Play It Again” is a series devoted to the review of the greatest American films before 1980.

Jaws, 1975 – Directed by Steven Spielberg


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Jaws is one of the most recognized film titles in American film history, ranked as one of the top suspense thrillers of all time. What makes this film so great is the straightforward story, the well-played characters, and the outstanding directing.

The film is based on the novel by Peter Bentley about a great white shark that moves into the waters of an island resort, which depends on summer tourists to survive.

After a swimmer’s body is found on the beach, newly arrived Police Chief Brody (Roy Schereler), contacts a scientist by the name of Hooper (Richard Dreyfuss) that takes particular interest in sharks. Together, they are unsuccessful in convincing the Mayor that the shark attacks are real. In one of the most well-known scenes in the film, the “Everyone out of the water!” scene, the mayor watches as a local boy becomes the next victim.

The waters around the island become crowded with eager fishermen when a bounty is posted for the killer shark. When the reward fails to land the right shark, Chief Brody hires Captain Quint (Robert Shaw), a salty old fisherman obsessed with the art of shark-slaying. Captain Quint’s small vessel, the Orca, sets out to kill the gigantic monster with Quint, Hooper and Brody onboard. The interaction of this trio of characters is what really drives this film.

Spielberg did a masterful job of directing as well. He was able to build suspense using only camera angles and the timing of the action.  Adding to the suspense of the film is the famous theme song, composed by the legendary John Williams. The pace of the music is creatively linked to the action on the screen.

This film is noteworthy because of Spielberg’s use of classic cinematography techniques to generate a thrilling, suspenseful experience that has become a major part of popular culture. Yes, the special effects of Jaws are dated, but they still get the job done.  If you like a good thriller, pick up a copy of Jaws. Enjoy and play it again.