We’re gonna need a bigger boat
This two hour thriller about a great white shark that’s terrorising the locals of Amity Island may not have been the first theatrical film directed by Steven Spielberg but the impact it left definitely kick started a string of back to back hits for the film maker.
Based on the book of the same name, the movie stars the late Roy Scheider as chief Brody Amity Islands chief of police, Brody is the first person on Amity Island to witness one of the sharks victims when he finds the half eaten remains of a young girl washed up on a beach, Brody quickly informs the mayor who only really cares about the towns income and he refuses to allow Brody too close the beaches as he doesn’t want to risk turning away tourists, of course this decision only leaves more victims for Hollywood’s most famous shark and eventually Brody decides to gang together with an old fisherman played by Robert Shaw and a marine biologist played by Richard Dreyfuss to take out the shark themselves.
For a film with such a simple premise it’s honestly amazing just how well it was directed, so many scenes in the movie are directed in a way so that the audience can always know when the shark is on screen even when they cant see it, the Oscar award winning John Williams score that consists of only a few notes only plays to make the audience aware of the sharks presence but when the audience cannot see the shark the music doesn’t play so when it then appears in the same scene it always catches people off guard, by far the most moving part of the movie is the entire final act with our three heroes on the boat, throughout this entire act we can see the different views and personalities of the characters as they bounce off each other and constantly butt heads, my favourite scene is when the marine biologist and the fisherman are showing each-other their battle wounds with each scar and cut getting more grizzly as the competition goes on and its during this scene that we learn that the fisherman was part of the crew on the Indianapolis which is why he is always so angry and short tempered.
During this same act the three men drink whisky and sing a song with very important lyrics as it tells us that they are drunk and it also shows that they all realise that this mission could very likely get them killed and all three of them would much rather be back home where its safer.
“Show me the way to go home
I’m tired and I want to go to bed
I had a little drink about an hour ago
And it’s gone right to my head
Wherever I may roam
On land or sea or foam
You can always hear me singing this song
Show me the way to go home”
During the scene this song is sang multiple times getting faster and louder every time the actors sing another verse and whats very clever about this moment is that eventually the shark attacks the boat and the song ends as our heroes are now preparing to fight for their lives, I don’t believe this scene has ever had a confirmation for its meaning but personally I like to think that it was made to distract the audience, its one of the only light hearted scenes in the film and the fact that the song gets faster as the shark approaches is very similar to the John Williams score that was this time absent, so I have to wonder if perhaps this scene was made in the way it was to shock the audience as they may not have expected the shark to attack the boat which makes the shark more sneaky and much more frightening.
My favourite performance in Jaws is Richard Dreyfuss as the Marine Biologist but the entire cast does a brilliant job at performing their roles and I cant complain about a single performance as Spielberg did a fantastic job of making sure that everyone worked to the best of their abilities, Spielberg is known to have been very strict during the films production and the final result from the actors and actresses really pay off because of this.
Over 40 years later and Jaws still has a massive impact on so many people, today I am always wary of going into the ocean when I visit the beach and this movie is big cause of this, thankfully I was able to get hold of a Blu-Ray for this movie and even though I am yet again disappointed with the lack of a Directors Commentary, the special features have hours of extras including a two hour long documentary about the making of the film, this along with a lot of deleted scenes is a great excuse to pick up a copy for yourself.
Only one week left in Spielberg Month and lets hope that the next movie allows us to finish off this celebration of Spielberg’s work with a bang.
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