Jaws

Film
  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 out of 5 stars
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Jaws

Is there such a thing as a perfect film? One that knows what it wants to achieve and does it, flawlessly, artfully and intelligently? If so, then ‘Jaws’ is as good a candidate as any. Thirty-seven years on (and reissued in a new HD print), this tale of an island community terrorised by a killer shark still feels timeless and terrifying. The characterisation is precise and acutely observed (it’s one of the great guys-on-a-mission flicks), the dialogue is witty and wise, and the plot fits together like a finely crafted watch. The performances – not just leads, but the kids, townsfolk and the grief-stricken mother too – are impeccable. Best of all is Steven Spielberg’s direction: the camera moves like a predatory animal, gliding eerily across the surface of the vast Atlantic, creating sequences of almost unbearable suspense (never mind that the scariest scene was shot in a swimming pool). It’s no wonder a generation of holidaymakers still thinks twice before stepping into the water.

Release details

Rated: 12A
Release date: Friday June 15 2012
Duration: 124 mins

Cast and crew

Average User Rating

4.5 / 5

Rating Breakdown

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nicknickn
Tastemaker

This was on at the BFI as part of a Spielberg retrospective. The 450 seat auditorium was full on a Friday night for a 41 year old movie. That fact alone testifies to the strength of this film.

It was my first time seeing it and I am surprised how well it has stood the test of time. It is a thriller that delivers thrills. It is the first time that I have heard gasps from the audience in a movie theatre in a very long time, the face in the boat is a genuine jump back in your seat moment. The character development is good and the script is excellent, it has some very funny moments to lighten the mood. The music is possibly the most famous film score ever and it matches the action perfectly. The only part of the movie that shows its age is the shark itself, but even this is interesting to see from a history of cinema perspective.

Jaws won 3 academy awards; editing, score and sound. The only surprise is that it didn't win more. It regularly appears in lists of all-time best films. Having just seen it, 41 years late, its inclusion in those lists is fully justified.

RichardEhrlich
moderator

Gripping though it is, Jaws is let down by the Hollywood sweetening of the novel. In the book, Matt Hooper has an affair with the sheriff's wife – and is 'punished' in the end by becoming shark-food. Richard Dreyfuss and Roy Scheider [great performance from this under-valued actor] swimming off together doesn't have the same power. 


Also worth noting: the score for this movie is so central to its cinematic power that John Williams should get billing equal to Spielberg's.

Tom
moderatorStaff Writer

One of the greatest nail biting movies you're ever likely to see - it plays on our innate fear of great big fish with razor sharp teeth lurking whenever we go for a dip. The tension rises and falls throughout and is accompanied by a great soundtrack that stays with you forever!