Originally released in 1975, Jaws is the ultimate shark thriller. It’s now being re-released on UK big screens ahead of a blu-ray debut in September. But, with a new blu-ray release just around the corner, is the digitally remastered Jaws worth the cinema price?
Winner of three Oscars (for best film editing, score and sound) and an Academy Award nomination for best picture, Jaws is the original summer blockbuster. For newcomers who aren’t familiar with the story, when a girl is attacked by a shark on Amity Island’s coast, Police Chief, Brody (Roy Schieder), battles with the town’s Mayor (Murray Hamilton) to get the beaches closed. But, as July 4th approaches, and the tourist season hits its peak, more victims are taken. Brody sets out with oceanographer, Hooper (Richard Dreyfuss) and experienced fisherman and shark hunter, Quint (Robert Shaw), to find the great white shark.
The script benefitted from a number of re-writes, focussing on the last part of Benchley’s novel (Jaws) which sees the three protagonists aboard the Orca fishing boat, pursuing the great white. The strength of the characterisation is first-rate. Robert Shaw is captivating as Quint and his story of the tragic USS Indianapolis is powerful and memorable. There’s also some nice humour and camaraderie between the three characters aboard the Orca which makes Jaws very watchable.
Early in his big screen film career, Spielberg creates a convincing world where audiences want to spend time. Even thirty-seven years on, this world feels real as he captures the town’s panic in a number of dynamic scenes with bustling crowds and heated interchanges.
Spielberg’s inventive camera work is at its best on the big screen. Newcomers to the Jaws phenomenon should look out for the now iconic ‘Jaws Shot’. As Brody sits in his deck chair, the camera moves forward, towards him, while simultaneously zooming out – the effect is a blurring of the background that visually implies Brody’s realisation that another victim has been taken by the shark.
Jaws timelessness proves that you don’t need today’s state of the art CGI to create suspense… Jaws genuinely makes the audience jump – something many modern movies aim to do but rarely achieve.
Jaws timelessness proves that you don’t need expensive or state of the art CGI to create suspense. Instead Spielberg suggests the sharks presence using John William’s score and visual cues, such as rippling water and the dorsal fin. In using the camera as the eyes of the shark, Spielberg draws out the suspense – who will be the next victim? – and captures the horrified expressions of onlookers. Jaws also has moments that genuinely make the audience jump – something many modern movies aim to do but rarely achieve.
Jaws is a classic and the opportunity to see it once more on the big screen should not be missed. This re-release also feels like quite a privilege for the UK – fans in the US are now calling for a theatrical re-release. The remastered version is well worth the ticket price and the cinema’s large screen and sound create the ultimate atmosphere to enjoy this definitive summer blockbuster. It’s a must-see for Jaws fans and comes highly recommended for first time viewers.
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