Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Jaws


Jaws; disaster film/ horror, USA, 1975; D: Steven Spielberg, S: Roy Scheider, Robert Shaw, Richard Dreyfuss, Murray Hamilton, Lorraine Gary
Amity Island is a popular tourist resort during summer. One night a girl swims in the sea and mysteriously disappears. When her body is found on the beach the police chief Marty Brody concludes that it was a shark attack and decides to close the beach. But he is stopped by the mayor who insists that the tourists stay. When a little boy also gets killed by a giant shark, Matt, an expert for oceanography, shows up in town and criticizes the mayor. After another victim, Marty, Matt and the shark hunter Quint sail off with their ship to hunt for the giant shark. In the middle of the sea the shark sinks their ship and eats Quint, but Marty manages to kill it with an air tank he shot.

Steven Spielberg didn't like filming "Jaws" but it was exactly that film that brought him fame since the audience massively rushed to cinemas optative to sense hysteria in the story about a giant, 25 foot long shark - in the end, "Jaws" earned 260 million $ in the US and became the second highest grossing movie of the 70s, just behind "Star Wars". The legendary musical score by John Williams and director Spielberg created a subtle iconography of fear, anxiety and hydrophobia: scenes of the corpse of the girl on the beach full of crabs, a book about the attacks of sharks, estimates of scientist about the size of the fish and video games about the shark are slowly, but surely and masterfully grading the mood of elevated suspense, but unlike other horror directors he cares for his characters and even places emotions in their situations. Still, the first half of the film is slightly inert and unconvincing, especially when the mayor is urging dozens and dozens of tourists to go swim in the sea, which seems like an exaggerated critique of profit under every cost. The second half of this shining film, which lasts for an hour, is much more interesting and brilliantly elevates the climax: in it the trio is on a ship in the middle of the sea hunting for the giant shark. It's interesting that the hunter is called Quint (Latin for five) since he is actually the fifth victim of the shark, and in the finale the shark even jumps on the ship and tips it vertically, offering a wonderful suspense rush. "Jaws" is a rare example of a horror that doesn't only have suspense, but also sophistication, and its scenes are directed with such passion that they grip with ease.

Grade:+++

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