Before you get all, “oh-em-gee, you haven’t seen Jaws until now?!” on me, realize that this series of reviews is dedicated to tackling a list of classic movies I haven’t seen. My friends are constantly pushing me to remedy this discrepancy; you’d think my life depended on it. Well, to everyone who has been urging me to see these movies: here we go. As it turns out, I was able to catch Jaws at an outdoor screening about a month prior to this writing. Considering the movie is 37 years old, this was probably one of a few chances I’d get to see the movie on a big screen alongside an audience.
Jaws didn’t strike me as a wholly frightening movie. Instead, I’d say it was one of the most suspenseful and seat-edge-warming flicks I’ve ever seen. The movie follows the tale of three men on their quest to rid a New York beach town called Amity of a great white shark that has taken control of beach waters. It has claimed this control by eating at least a few people. The dynamic between these men (a marine biologist, seasoned fisherman, and humble police chief) makes you forget that there’s even a shark problem half of the time. Each argument, insult, wisecrack and laugh they share had me gripped on seeing their stories progress – both as individuals and a group. All I wanted was more conversation to take place – the writing kicked ass! This also made any moment that Jaws popped up so striking. One minute the fisherman would be scolding the marine biologist, and the next, a gigantic shark would be thrashing around and against their unsuspecting boat.
Whenever Jaws comes up in a group conversation, the phrase, “…and no one went in the water for weeks after they saw it…” comes up almost immediately. To this, I had to shrug. Obviously a shark movie is going to scare people out of going into the water for a little while. I’d go on to ponder if the movie was really that jarring. Lots of people enjoy being scared out of their wits, after all. But, was it enough to abolish aquatic activities? My skepticism was answered firmly by Jaws’ top notch cinematography. It isn’t what you see of the shark that gets you, it’s what you don’t see. An attack comes up so randomly, quickly, and violently. Water flies everywhere, screams fill the air, and blood spills into the water like cough syrup. To this point, I’d almost never be able to identify exactly when the next incident would occur, even if the signature “dun-dun” music was present.
I leave you with two questions:
What was your favorite scene from Jaws? I think we can safely assume that spoilers no longer exist, so go nuts.
What movie would you like to see as a Retroreview?