Monday, January 7, 2013
MOVIE OF THE WEEK: Jaws
Oh the 70s. So many amazing films came from that decade and they still hold up remarkably well today. One of those is the classic horror/thriller film "Jaws". Released in 1975 to massive box office success, "Jaws" is often credited as the film that established the wide-release model of the summer blockbuster. Set in a summer getaway spot called Amity Island, the plot follows the hunt to stop a great white shark that is terrorizing the vacationers. This was only my 2nd viewing of the film and I noticed some new things that increased my appreciation for the film even more.
The main thing I noticed was the excellent cinematography. It’s not something that I’ve heard mentioned much in relation to this film, but I found it quite impressive. While the interesting underwater perspectives are commonplace today, the film still stands out for it’s warm sunlit photography. Compared to the usual dark, nighttime setting of most horror films, the pleasant glow really emphasizes the mood. In a town that is popular for its peaceful atmosphere, the juxtaposition of the red blood in the clear blue waters really builds up the sense of dread. Additionally, the use of early evening scenes (rather than dark late hours) draws attention to the visible danger that lurks. For the most part, you only see the shark's fin, but that’s all it takes to get you really worried.
Further adding to the fear is that iconic music that often accompanies that equally iconic fin. It’s really one of the best pieces of theme music composed for a film. John Williams was really on a good run with all his memorable music scores during this collaborative period with Spielberg.
The other new and unexpected thing that I found on this re-watch, was the humour. There a small nuggets of jokes littered throughout that further add to the entertainment value. Thankfully it’s done very tastefully, keeping in line with the high artistic quality of the film. While other horror films are mainly concerned with the effectiveness of their visuals, "Jaws" is firmly grounded in a well-written story that is equally concerned with the development of characters. When many people think of this film, the memory of Robert Shaw’s character (Quint) and his monologues are just as important as the shark attacks. This artistic integrity may result in modern viewers finding the pacing too slow, but back when this was released, it was the epitome of the "popcorn movie". The legacy of the film’s style is easily evident in today’s blockbusters. With this keen interest in its characters and great storytelling, "Jaws" is a classic that will surely stand the test of time.
Special thanks to Ryan McNeil, who kindly gifted me this dvd.