Horror Movie Matters #21: Jaws 1975 Dir. Steven Spielberg

#21: Jaws 1975 Dir. Steven Spielberg

This was the movie that made everyone afraid to swim in the ocean and along with Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds represents the best of the sub-genre often referred to as "eco-horror". Jaws is about the small beachside community of Amity Island as it is terrorized by a killer, great white shark. This film was the big breakthrough for legendary director Steven Spieberg and features stellar performances from Robert Shaw, Richard Dreyfuss and Roy Scheider. Jaws is perhaps most notable for its insistance in not showing the monster. Often the shark is just illuded to with a fin or a POV camara angle. This lack of shark was due to the fact that the filmmakers had difficulties getting the robot shark (whom Spielberg named Bruce) to work, but this choice gave the film greater suspense and resonance. We all know what a shark looks like but without a physical manifestation on screen, we are free to imagine whatever abomination we like. Unlike many films, Jaws isn't sited for just one memorable scene, but several. However the final scene aboard Quint's boat, The Orca, is one of the greatest endings in film history. If you haven't seen Jaws, you should be ashamed of yourself, it is full of suspense and features some of the best characters in cinema. Jaws has been endlessly referenced and parodied it has spawned three sequels and amusment park rides. This film took terror out of the supernatural and brought it to a believable reality, this film also made a horror film into a summer blockbuster.