5 Reasons Jaws Remains One of the Most Iconic Films Ever

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by Staff & Contributors

in Gaming & Tech

June 20th will be the 42nd anniversary of Jaws, the film that made Steven Spielberg a household name; and at 28, one of the youngest multi-millionaires in American history. It became a cinematic phenomenon, smashing all box office records.

Sure, that rubber shark that appears towards the climax of the action is pretty woeful by today’s FX standards. But that’s a minor detail compared to the film’s enduring ability to keep us rooted to the edge of our seats for 124 minutes.  Jaws has held a special place in moviegoers’ hearts for four decades, and quite rightly so. Here’s why.

Shark stories

Quint recounts surviving the sinking of the USS Indianapolis, torpedoed by a Japanese submarine during World War Two. But when he describes how sharks preyed on the 900 survivors for days, until there were only 300 left, we are drawn into genuine horror. And this didn’t come from any scriptwriter’s imagination: it happened, and remains the worst ever US Navy disaster.

 

Camaraderie

The chemistry between the three actors in the film’s final third is crucial. Robert Shaw as grizzled bounty hunter Quint, Richard Dreyfuss as cocky oceanographer Hooper and Roy Scheider as police chief Brody, are perfectly cast. Their personalities clash but there is also mutual admiration.

 

Humor

Films involving prolonged stress levels require periodic safety valves to release the pressure. This comes in frequent injections of humor, from Quint’s brash asides to Hooper sticking his tongue out. Shocks and laughter are the essence of blockbuster entertainment, which is why Jaws has attracted generations of cinemagoers, from thrill seekers to people who’ve connected on dating sites.

 

Straight for the jugular

Like a rollercoaster ride commencing with a steep drop, Spielberg launches proceedings with the terrifying ambush on a nightswimmer. The hapless woman’s attacker remains unseen, but as her body as dragged through the waves our imaginations fill in the blanks.

 

Tension

Spielberg cranks suspense levels to 11 with two masterstrokes. Firstly, the killer shark is rarely glimpsed in the earlier portion of the story. But what we do get are POV shots as it prowls through the ocean. Secondly, the director collaborated with composer John Williams to create a menacing theme tune, one of the most iconic in cinema history. Terrified viewers don’t have to see the creature, but these elements combined to let us know it is certainly there!

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