Alttyrt’s review published on Letterboxd:
Back to the Future
Classic summer movies week (23/06-29/06)
Brody: What day is this?
Hooper: It's Wednesday... eh, it's Tuesday, I think.
Brody: Think the tide's with us?
Hooper: Keep kicking.
Brody: I used to hate the water...
Hooper: I can't imagine why.
After I watched Jaws today, I can see why it is an incredibly significant piece of entertainment. It led to the frenzy of all things sharks in entertainment. It made people aquaphobic due to the marketing of this movie screaming it makes you afraid to go in the water. It had the unfortunate side effect of portraying all sharks as man-eating beasts, dooming them to over-hunting and getting their poor fins chopped off (the original writer of the source novel, Peter Benchley famously switched to becoming an advocate for marine conservation following the sudden popularity of the movie and his novels). It launched Spielberg's career, leading him to become one of the big leagues in all of the entertainment industry. Most of all, Jaws had the knock-on effect in making studios realize how profitable a blockbuster like this one have as part of their assets. Like it or not, the release of this film led to the rise of blockbuster entertainment. No longer encumbered by risky concepts, studios sought to use simple, but crowd-pleasing films to rake in money. I think it is safe to say, without Jaws, there is no Disney, no Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), no Star Wars. Jaws is responsible for making Hollywood the state it is today, a powerhouse.
But more than that, Jaws remains relevant 45 years on. Watching Jaws in the midst of COVID-19, I cannot help but see a parallel between the global threat of the virus and the (fictional) threat of an attacking, all-powerful great white upon Amity Island. In between the high-octane hunt for the shark and seeing poor beachgoers get mauled, it is all a lesson about precaution. Even if theatres right now can get themselves opened up for Tenet and Mulan, like the shark, the virus may be lurking in someone's body, asymptomatic, to be passed to others in the packed auditorium. Then, the resulting spread only fuels the chaos the world is grappling right now. As a result? The country or the whole continent gets shut down for longer periods of time. We can only hope, like Marcus Brody, Quint, and Matt Hooper going out to open ocean to search and hunt down the shark so as to prevent it from threatening the islanders' livelihoods, the biologists can successfully arrest the threat and bring back the normalcy it so robbed us throughout 2020. The parallels are just unmistakable.
What else can I say about Jaws? It is practically excellent. Here, Spielberg uses the camera to create a strong thematic tale of man vs. nature. Here John Williams does a minimalistic yet tense score for the shark. Here, the film manages to avoid completely showing the shark for a good 80% of the runtime. Here, the performances between the trio of men are astounding (Robert Shaw's monologue about the USS Indianapolis is just heartbreaking and gives a necessary background to his grizzled character). Here, "You're gonna need a bigger boat" is the real deal, not the countless parodies and references later on in other movies. Here, Spielberg makes Amity Island quite immersive and you can clearly see the stakes behind the trio chasing the shark. Here, it uses incredible sound effects and tones to make you feel truly scared whenever the shark appears and devours someone.
The point is, there are a lot of "heres" to show why Jaws remain a legendary film that aged incredibly well, to not just be a timeless classic among moviegoers, but define what is a crowd-pleasing film. A film that always remains in the memories of the pop-culture devouring audience.
Now, please just consider this film a standalone. We shall not consider the sequels (cough,cough, piece of shit) as essential summertime viewing right now. This shall always remain the real deal in everything summer blockbusters.
Brody: Smile, you son of a BITCH!