Jaws ★★★★½

Jaws. 1975. Directed by Steven Spielberg.

IMAX Viewing:

Jaws (1975) was released one year before I was born. However, my father and mother were fans. So, I was allowed to view it when I was seven (1982) the same year E.T. was released. I saw E.T. and asked to see Jaws because my parents were Spielberg fans. We owned a Beta and VHS player at the time. I remember seeing Jaws on a Beta because I called it “kid size.” Jaws is a film that, like E.T., I could watch over and over. Tonight, for the first time, I saw Jaws in the theater and in it was in IMAX. Every seat was filled. Their were neophytes and old fans. The mixture was interesting and but the responses were still filled with gasps, awe struck sighs, and laughter. 

From the beginning, John Williams’s score is the pulse of the film and it is phenomenal. I was surprised to read that Spielberg initially did not like it. In the trivia for IMDB, Spielberg said to composer John Williams, “That’s funny, John, really; but what did you really have in mind for the theme of Jaws?” As far as theme songs and scores, John Williams is the pro and Oscar magnet. Accordingly, Spielberg soon apologized and admitted that without Williams’s score, the film would have flopped or may not have been the success it is today. 

Jaws was the film, in our household, that set the benchmark for edge of your seat suspense thriller. In my case, as a child, I kept my security blanket nearby and covered my head for the scary scenes. If Roy Scheider (Brody) was in a film, I felt like everything was going to be okay. His acting demeanor was relaxed, he asked intelligent questions, and was attractive (especially in All That Jazz, 1979). In addition, Richard Dreyfuss (Hooper) added a layer of intelligence and bravado (after he was drunk) to Jaws that was necessary to move the narrative into bloody water. From research, I understand that Robert Shaw (Quint) and Dreyfuss disliked each other in real life so this translated to the screen quite well and made production quite difficult for everyone. Especially while Brody, Hooper, and Quint were aboard the ORCA searching for Jaws; the giant great white shark that had terrified the entire fictional town of Amity Island in New England. 

In our opinion, it is difficult to say that Jaws is the best early Spielberg film. Because Close Encounters of the Third Kind, E.T., Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark, and Poltergeist (story and screenplay by Spielberg) are phenomenal. It is definitely time we ranked theses in a list on LB. Nevertheless, Jaws is ranked number 206 out of 250 films on IMDB. Moreover, it won three Oscars: Best Sound, Best Film Editing, and Best Music, Original Dramatic Score. Oscars are not the benchmark for our favorite films but, for a classic such as Jaws it was a big deal to win three Oscars. It was beaten by One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest for Best Picture. That is a damn good film but so is Jaws.

Viewed in a Regal Theater in IMAX.

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