A pearched camera from the murky depths of the ocean glaring ominously above at the dangling feet of ocean-goers. The camera begins to steadily move towards the victim, the familiar John Williams score begins to get your blood pumping… and that?s when you realize that the summers that lay ahead of you will from here on be paralyzed with dread. Its amazing that a giant animatronic puppet resembling a great white shark still has the power to enthrall and horrify generation after generation of viewers, even after 30 some-odd years after its release.
For those of you who have lived comically sheltered lives, here is the plot breakdown of Steven Speilberg’s classic tale of man vs. the sea: After a woman (or what?s left of her) is washed ashore, a lifeguard/policeman desperately tries to convince the mayor that a killer shark is on the loose in Amity Beach. However, being the height of summer weenie-roasting season, the warnings go unheeded. Then, the town?s worst fears are realized: a young boy is ripped from his raft and torn to pieces.
What makes this movie great is how it is almost entirely two different films in one: the first half is pure horror flick, as we follow Roy Schneider and his struggles to capture the monster terrorizing his beach. After meeting the other main characters (which include a shark specialist and a shark hunter) the viewer is then thrust in a classic adventure story as the 3 men venture out into the sea with one goal in mind: to hunt and kill the great white.
This movie is quite simply a classic. No if ands or buts about it. Anyone and everyone who has seen this movie have always had that lingering fear about what?s beneath them whenever they visit the beach. This is the movie that made Speilberg a God among directors, and for good reason: his deliberate pacing and knack for telling a good story really make this film come to life. This movie has aged like fine wine, thanks in large part to Mr. Speilberg.
Another reason this movie has endured is, of course, the musical score. To this day, there has never been a more effective, suspenseful soundtrack to a movie, and my guess is there will never be one that?s quite like it. Seriously folks, name one time that you didn’t get the chills when John Williams threatening theme entered your eardrums, and into your sub-conscious. It?s audio mastery in its purest and most volatile form.
Bottom Line: If you haven?t seen Jaws, then what kind of horror fan are you? This is one of the golden oldies, a movie that traumatized and shocked a more innocent era of American culture. A movie that stands up to repeated viewings and will always stick with you. This is without a doubt a classic in every sense of the word.