Sharks attacks happen in 3 feet of water, about 10 feet from the beach, and the sharks keep swimming around the same place until the food supply is gone. We all know that theme song from “Jaws”, played by a cello, which makes us cringe every time we hear it, no matter where we are. This amazing film, directed by Steven Spielberg in 1975, is so addicting that it is still insanely popular to this day. (IMDb) It is known that every time you hear that theme song, the shark is around.
The movie even opens with a tracking shot of the ocean floor with the song playing, putting the audience in suspense of what will pop out on the screen next. “Jaws” is the story of a great white shark, and its attack on a small shore town, Amity Island. The chief of police, Chief Brody, played by Roy Scheider, is the main character who discovers the first shark attack on Amity Island. Chief Brody wants to immediately shut down the beaches but the mayor quickly opposes the thought because it is not good publicity for 4th of July weekend.
Soon after this, there is another attack, which is when the mayor finally agrees to close the beaches, and this is also when Brody meets Matt Hooper. Hooper, played by Richard Dreyfuss, is an expert on sharks who teams up with Brody and Quint, a drunken fisherman played by Robert Shaw, to go catch and kill the shark that has been attacking the island. (IMDb) Chief Brody is the only character we become familiar with from the very beginning of the movie.
He is the chief of police, but is also well known man around town, and is very close with his family, so we feel like we can connect with him. “We all know about you Chief. You don’t go in the water at all, do ya? ” This is a very ironic comment made by a man on the beach to Brody because he is afraid of the water, he doesn’t like to swim, and he never goes in the ocean, in a movie about shark attacks. As soon as Chief Brody finds out about the first shark attack, he becomes a frantic mess for the rest of the movie.
Before a public announcement is made, Brody becomes so paranoid about there being a shark at the beach all the time, but never mentions a word. The first scene where the shark is actually introduced is within the first five minutes of the movie. It is actually very interesting the way that it is filmed because the shark isn’t actually ever seen, but we all know it is there. He is attacking a girl and all that can be seen in the dark lighting is a silhouette of her body and the splashing of the water and her scream is the only thing to be heard.
When her screaming stops just moments later, you know she is dead. The lack of detail in this scene makes the audience sit on the edge of their seats in suspense and in fright, but at the same time, lead us to want more. There is a scene just after it is discovered that there is a Great White shark swimming close by in the ocean that Chief Brody, Hooper and the mayor are having a heated conversation about catching the shark and whether or not to close the beaches.
The way that this scene acted out and filmed is so realistic, because the three of them each think that they have the best answers to the problem. “That’s it. I’m done. I’m not gonna waste my time arguing with a man who is lining up to be a hot lunch,” Hooper to the mayor. The audience can barely understand what any of the actors are saying, because they are all screaming at once, but it is so realistic in the sense of them arguing, wanting others to hear what they are saying, and to block out all other opinions.
Again, when the second attack happens, the shark is still unseen. Rather than showing the shark actually attacking the child, Spielberg shows the shark’s perspective from a low angle, looking up towards the child as it swims towards him. Bloody water, gasping and screaming, a rush of everyone else leaving the water, and that “Jaws” theme song, all tell the audience that the child has just been attacked by the shark. The whole movie is about this shark, but the first time we actually see it is half way through the movie.
We get the view from a high angle, looking straight down of him, seen through the murky water, and just seconds later, his head comes up out of the water to bite a man who had fallen off his boat, and just seconds after that, we see the man’s bloody leg fall to the bottom of the ocean. It is such a quick glimpse that we get of the creature, but it is all that we need. Although this seems like it would be a scary moment, it is not. Someone screaming, “Shark! Shark! ” with dramatic music, in broad day light, basically tells us what is going to be happening next, without a scare.
Another interesting scene in the movie is where Hooper goes into a cage and is lowered into the ocean to inject the shark with strictnine nitrate. When this is being filmed under water, there is actually a midget who is taking the place of Dreyfuss’ character. The camera is recording from a long shot and is also at an angle from the side of the shark, looking in on the whole cage and the front of the shark’s body. Spielberg does a great job in the positioning everything in this scene in order for the shark to look bigger. (Flixster)
The slow movement and dramatic music always keeps the audience on theedge of their seats, wondering every second, what is going to happennext and who it is going to happen to. As mention, we always know the shark is near when we hear the “Jaws” theme song, but what is the fun in always knowing when something scary is going to happen? In one scene, Brody is in the middle of casually talking and throwing bait over the side of the boat when the shark decides it is going to jump out of the water and come within feet of Roy Scheider’s character.
Spielberg does a phenomenal job in scaring the audience in a few other scenes, just like this one, where there is no music or any other hints leading up to a scary ‘jump out of your seat’ moment. “Jaws” is such a realistic, classic, thriller that can never get old. It is funny and serious at the same time, which makes it so enjoyable for all audience and most ages. Little bits of humor, like Hooper’s comment, “I think I’m familiar with the fact that you’re going to ignore this particular problem, until it swims up and bites you on the ass,” just add to the thrill and suspense and make the movie fit into more than one category.
It is also very serious because it deals with this very realistic, yet uncommon situation, but it realistically portrays the drama that would tag along with it. “This is not a boat accident, and it wasn’t a propeller, and it wasn’t any coral reef, and it wasn’t Jack the Ripper. It was a shark. ” Hooper’s comment didn’t come as much of a shock at this point in the movie, but imagine if we heard those words today.