The legendary 1975 horror film Jaws is BACK in cinemas this weekend for a limited run. And we decided to honour the film by having a ramble about it.
Plus, you know, go and watch the film. As it’s one of our all-time favourites, from childhood through to our (alleged) adult years now we’re all mature and stuff. Perfect opportunity for a reminiscing session!
Jaws Podcast Special: Spielberg, Spume, and Summer Blockbusters
Even if you haven’t seen Jaws, you know the drill. Enormous shark. John Williams’ genius score. More sharks.
Thusly, let’s have a gander at the modern trailer for the classic to celebrate this IMAX re-release.
The film starred Richard Dreyfuss, Roy Scheider, and Robert Shaw. Sadly, only Dreyfuss is still with us. In fact, Shaw died on 28th August 1978 aged only 51. A real shame there.
Above everything else, Jaws is primarily a character study of its three leads.
It is, in fact, the “colourful” (as Chief Brody puts it) Quint who dominates proceedings. The second half of the film is a brilliant depiction of his mental decline through PTSD. He really loses it.
Brody and Hooper have to contend with the enormous great white, but it becomes apparent their unstable captain is as big a threat as the shark.
As cliched as it is to say it, Jaws offers an incredible rollercoaster of emotions. As right after that, there’s a thrilling chase scene with the shark.
Spielberg’s genius with the film was to, despite the sharks’ presence, entrench the experience in characterisation. The dialogue is brilliant and the film ramps up your appreciation of each character—flaws and all.
In recent years, an on-set documentary has also emerged of filming in Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts. That includes gems such as catching up with Robert Shaw.
As we mention in the podcast thing, it’s a bit weird seeing the garrulous Quint dressed there speaking with a refined British accent. Shaw was a tall, dashing figure from Westhoughton, Lancashire, near to Bolton and Manchester.
He was a brilliant actor and writer, with a ready wit on show here.
All of this stuff is part of the Jaws legend. It’s approaching its 50th anniversary all set and ready for 2025. But even 100 years from now people will look back and celebrate this thing.
It’s an enduring masterpiece. Very possibly Spielberg’s best film. And a world without it would be a terrible place indeed.
Jaws’ 1974 On Location Documentary
Robert Shaw’s interview further above was from a 1974 on-set documentary that’s made its way online recently. It’s a real gem to watch!
Note a young Steven Spielberg on set (28 at the time) with Roy Schneider and Richard Dreyfuss also interviewed. There’s a great bit with Schneider who’s about to film the legendary ending sequence where he blows up the SOB.
Famously, Shaw spent much of his time on set winding up the much younger Richard Dreyfuss. Kind of exactly like how Quint does with Hooper in the film.
As the mechanical shark was broken for much of the shoot, the actors had extra time to work on their characterisation and developing the script.
That’s one reason why Jaws ended up as good as it is. Altogether, it took:
- A genius, pioneering director
- A genius, pioneering composer
- Three actors at the peak of their game
- Creativity in the face of adversity
A difficult mix to get right. But when the stars all align, you end up with something as iconic as this. You’re gonna need a bigger boat? Indeed.