Stephen Spielberg’s film ‘Jaws’ is a classic summer blockbuster, with all the horror, thrills, suspense and special effects you would expect from such a film. Originally produced in 1975, ‘Jaws’ is an American thriller (based on Peter Benchley’s novel of the same name). It does not contain all the typical horror movie convictions like violence or gruesomeness; but who needs bloodlust when it’s the subtle teasing out of that icy feeling which will send shivers up the spine of even the most hardened viewer. Spielberg certainly sets the bar for filmmaking as even till this day ‘Jaws’ is known as one of the rare films which not only grabs your attention, but will scare you to your wits end, like….
On the other hand, the film Deep Blue Sea directed by Renny Harlin is exactly what you don’t want! The film was produced 24 years later than ‘Jaws’ and used violence, gruesomeness and computer effects including CGI but was rather unconvincing
Blackness fills the screen, weird alien-like noises begin, the tension tightens ever so slightly but, then we’re introduced to two young lovers going for a romantic midnight swim. Phew, it’s okay – we can relax…or so we thought. Just as we snuggle up in our seats, the tension strings tighten again and before you know the young girl is the victim to a mighty Great White shark. This scene really shows how weak and vulnerable we are to a man-eating predator. Although we don’t see the shark till half way through the film, we certainly feel its presence. The film crew used a mechanical shark (bizarrely named ‘Bruce’) for the few scenes where the shark is present, but it is really Spielberg’s ingenious use of the camera, to represent the eyes of the shark, which really gives us a sense of its existence.
The film is set on Amity Island in the summer and with the fourth of July, American Independence day, coming up, the town focuses on the business side of things and gets ready for their busiest time of the year, when all the money comes in from tourists, However, when a girl’s distorted body is washed ashore the next morning, Police Chief Martin Brody (Roy Scheider) insists on closing the beach, but Amity Mayor Larry Vaughn (Murray Hamilton) refuses to speculate, fearing that public knowledge of a shark attack would kill the local economy and no money would come in from the Forth of July.
But when another shark attack occurs, this time in broad daylight, the incident draws shark expert Matt Hooper (Richard Dreyfuss) to the area. Meanwhile, a shark hunter named Quint (Robert Shaw) offers to find and kill the shark for $10,000, but Mayor Vaughn believes that price is too high, but when the authorities finally decide to go after the great white, the real danger is only just beginning…
With brilliant direction and state-of-the-art special effects (at least for the time that the film was made), ‘Jaws’ is a real thriller keeping you on the edge of your seat wrought with suspense. The best thing about the film is that the audience do not see the shark until half way through the film; we only ever see through the shark’s eyes. Even when the great White attacks in broad daylight, the audience is only privy to an exposed fin and the blood of the victim as it spreads across the water.
Apparently, ‘Bruce’ the mechanical shark was fermata/rest; he wasn’t working quite as Spielberg had hoped but instead of delaying the film, Spielberg carried on and found new creative ways to show the shark – this was what really set the standard as no-one else had ever done something quite like it before. It was something new and exiting in the world of cinematography.
Overall, the film ‘Jaws’ is exceptional containing all that you would want and need in such a movie. Is it any wonder it’s a blockbuster hit? The high level of suspense is what I like the most about ‘Jaws’; the fact that you don’t see the shark till half way through the film. After watching ‘Jaws’ you may never want to swim at the beach again…and in my opinion, any movie that can do that must be good!