Paul Lister’s review published on Letterboxd:
"Well, this is not a boat accident! And it wasn't any propeller; and it wasn't any coral reef; and it wasn't Jack the Ripper! It was a shark."
'Jaws' is a film of colossal importance and impact on the American film industry and audiences a like! The film is widely considered as the first ever summer blockbuster, or at least the film that gave birth to this thrillingly and financially profitable form of film making. Of course 'Jaws' isn't a blockbuster throwing money at the screen in order to earn more back, it is a thrill ride that favours character and story, something the films and film makers inspired by the film have often forgotten about.
Essentially away from thrilling set pieces the film is basically about fear. The film is so successful with audiences because it plays on fear. The thought of a deadly predator staking the waters frightened some people so much that they themselves had a fear of getting in the water. Of course these people entirely missed the point as the film is really about confronting your fears in order to overcome them. In the film our lead protagonist is Martin Brody (Roy Scheider), the new police chief of Amity Island, an island which relies on tourists flocking to its beaches and swimming in its waters. The only thing is, Brody has a fear of water! On the over side of it, the 'colourful' seaman Quint (Robert Shaw) delivers a speech later in the film that informs his character so much and again plays on the idea of confronting fear. In the speech, Quint let's his guard down to Brody and marine biologist Matt Hooper (Richard Dreyfuss). He tells of his time on the Indianapolis, the ship that delivered the Hiroshima bomb that would cause so much devastation. His tales tells of it's sinking and the thousands of men capsized in the ocean, surrounded by sharks. He tells of the way in which the men would try and fend off the sharks, sometimes successful and sometimes not, and he tells of how frightened he was, "Waitin' for my turn." It is for me one of the absolute highlights of the film and so absolutely brilliantly delivered by Robert Shaw. At the end of the film Brody says, "I used to be afraid of the water" after confronting and overcoming the scariest and most dangerous creature that water has to offer. What else could he possibly be scared of now?
Scheider, Dreyfuss and Shaw are all brilliant in the film. Shaw is undoubtedly the pick of the three, especially with that speech but I have always had a soft spot for Scheider and Dreyfuss. Dreyfuss particularly is brilliant here, I love his reactions to Quint, the way he pulls his face like the Brody's kid does in an earlier scene. Of course though this trio of actors are not the only stars of 'Jaws'. The biggest star of the film is John Williams, of more specifically his heart beat mimicking score. The tension and fear is so greatly increased with this music and in essence the music creates the character of the shark which remains unseen for the majority of the film, a classic example of leaving it to the imagination. Of course the shark itself does infamously appear and it is a big mechanical monster which we forgive because the film has already captured our imagination so much that we are completely embroiled in the story, we suspend of disbelief. Admittedly the shark is used sparingly enough that we are still able to do this but John Williams score is still the real shark in he film.
In essence there really isn't anything I can add to what has already been said about this legendary film. It is so brilliantly made, so structurally sound, terrifying, thrilling, well acted, brilliantly shot, iconic and influential beyond belief. The way it changed Hollywood has a number of negative connotations that the film itself cannot be held accountably for though. The financial success of the film really set up the whole summer blockbuster craze which is so engrained in the film industry today. This craze ultimately took a lot of these big summer pictures and made them money making projects and a business decision rather than a film that is entrenched in strong storytelling and character. But it is needless to go any further into that side of things because the long and short of it is that 'Jaws' is a masterpiece, one of the great American pictures from a man who would go on to practically rule Hollywood and set the standard for blockbuster film making, Steven Spielberg. Enough said.