Jaws ★★★★

Roy Scheider, Robert Shaw and Richard Dreyfuss star in Steven Spielberg’s Oscar-winning classic, powerful thriller in which they must stop a giant killer shark from traumatising a seaside town.

This is a movie by Steven Spielberg that has stood the test of time and it always will do.

After the director made a very decent theatrical debut with The Sugarland Express a year earlier, Jaws is the movie that made him a director look out for and this would be confirmed with the science-fiction film Close Encounters of the Third Kind two years later.

Mind you, Jaws suffered trouble problems during production, as cameras were getting soaked, unwanted sailing boats were being used in shots, the Orca which the three main actors were on started to sink and the director claims that one of his problems was the lack of experience (he certainly got plenty of it following this movie).

But despite all the production troubles the movie got, it was released to huge acclaim and became a blockbuster at the box office.

It became the highest-grossing movie at the time until that was surpassed by Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope 2 years later. Its success led to three sequels happening, but none of them had the director and author of the novel on board (just as well).

Today, Jaws is considered to be one of the greatest films ever made and while I personally disagree with this particular statement, you can understand why this movie continues to be popular so many years after it was released.

When a young woman is killed by a shark while swimming in the sea near the New England tourist town of Amity Island, police chief Martin Brody (Roy Scheider) wants to close the beaches, but mayor Larry Vaughn (Murray Hamilton) does not like this idea at all, as he believes that the loss of tourist revenue will not make the town popular anymore.

Ichthyologist Matt Hooper (Richard Dreyfuss) and grizzled ship captain Quint (Robert Shaw) offer to help Brody capture the killer beast, and the trio find themselves involved in a big battle in trying to defeat the shark that is causing a lot of chaos and danger.

Roy Scheider, Robert Shaw and Richard Dreyfuss all give very good performances as Martin, Quint and Matt, the three who battle to protect themselves, the boat they are on and everyone on the beach from the evil plastic fish that seems to have arrived of the coast of New England. They suit their roles very well and act like they are determined to defeat the shark and make the beach and sea safe for everyone once again. However, the trio know it is going to be harder than they realise.

Martin also delivers one of the most famous quotes in cinema history: "We're Gonna Need a Bigger Boat".

Elsewhere, Murray Hamilton is very good in his role as the mayor who strongly believes that closing the beaches is not a good idea at all. Although his part is decent, it’s unfortunate as it has been overshadowed by the three main actors battling the beast.

The direction from Spielberg is very good because he allows the facial expressions to be seen to a strong effect throughout, while the script is written to a decent standard by Peter Benchley and Carl Gottlieb as they make the movie decent to follow. Considering that this movie is based on the novel of the same name by Benchley, he in particular knows exactly what he is writing about.

The technical aspects that stand out best are the music, sound and editing, because the music is enjoyable to listen to, but at the same time, can be very haunting; the sound is excellent as you have to listen quite carefully at times; the film is edited to a very decent standard. Even though the sound and music are very good, it makes the atmosphere in the movie incredibly tense, quite literally from the single second the movie gets going.

This film has been described as one of the most terrifying of the 1970s and it is very easy to understand why.

The movie managed to win three Academy Awards: Best Original Score (John Williams), Best Sound and Best Film Editing (Verna Fields). The only other nomination it got was Best Picture. This meant that Jaws became the first film to win all of its Oscar nominations bar Best Picture since Three Coins in the Fountain – and the last to win until Steven Soderbergh’s Traffic achieved this feat 25 years later.

At the British Academy Film Awards, John Williams won the award for Best Music (also for his excellent score on the classic disaster movie The Towering Inferno), while it also received nominations for: Best Film, Best Director (Steven Spielberg), Best Actor (Richard Dreyfuss), Best Screenplay (Peter Benchley and Carl Gottlieb), Best Sound Track and Best Editing. It deserved the majority of these nominations.

At the Golden Globes, John Williams won the award for Best Original Score – Motion Picture, while it also got nominations for: Best Motion Picture – Drama, Best Director – Motion Picture (Steven Spielberg) and Best Screenplay – Motion Picture (Peter Benchley and Carl Gottlieb).

All of its major award wins and most of the nominations were deserved, as I do not consider Jaws to be one of the best pictures to have been released in this year.

Overall, the first entry in the Jaws franchise is one very good horror thriller film from Steven Spielberg which made him a director to watch. It works due to the very good performances from Roy Scheider, Richard Dreyfuss and Robert Shaw, along with Spielberg’s excellent direction, script, technical aspects and very, very tense atmosphere from start to finish.

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