Tuesday, August 01, 2006



Dir: Him (Munich; Schindler's List; Jurassic Park; The Color Purple; War of the Worlds)

The iconic thriller that absolutely deserves its reputation. The Senor has famously defined a genre. But what makes Jaws a brilliant film is not just its action, its careful attention to camera and editing and music to create tension, but its character development that provides interest in between the thrilling parts. The movie entertains in several ways, a triumph for a young genius of popular film making.

If Jaws threatens to tear apart anywhere, it is in its plot and the somewhat absurd notion that an entire town wouldn't care about a potential shark massacre on their own families in the interests of the local economy. Too many overwrought speeches would have made this an after school special, but the script gives just enough of that so we get the point but it does not detract. A well acted movie will help along those lines as well. Robert Shaw is a caricature as the salty sea campaign, but Dreyfuss and Scheider are both remarkable as the anti-shark crusaders. Their talents make the down scenes worth watching on their own. My favorite moment is when the three swap drunken stories, but Scheider keeps secret his own gunshot wound in the face of the rising misery count between the two sea lovers. Even in a populist movie, Speilberg will make his audience think along.

But of course the true star is the shark. Convincing puppetry and brilliant direction to gradually show more of the beast over the course of the film makes this the most realistic movie monster of all time. A giant rubber shark in the opening scene would have drawn laughs, but we are primed to believe in it over the film, so that when it does show we go along with it. The script takes great care to give enough science that we can believe this actually could happen (even if it couldn't).

I am sure everyone in the country has seen this. It is part of our collective culture and one of the great films of the last century.