Are you afraid of sharks? If so, answer this question: Have you ever seen the aquatic predator in person or even been near a coastal body of water in your life? If not, it might be because you saw JAWS, Steven Spielberg’s seminal 1975 OscarⓇ-winning thriller about a quaint coastal community terrorized by a 25-foot maneater. .
Decades after its release, the groundbreaking masterpiece is still scaring audiences of different generations, influencing ever more movies that face big fears, and returns to the big screen on Friday, September 2, as an AMC Craft Movie. Although most people already know what makes JAWS eligible for this honor, let’s dig a little deeper.
Push boundaries and spark conversation
Steven Spielberg helmed three classics that would top all-time box office charts, including 1982’s THE EXTRA-TERRESTRIAL, which would be surpassed by the director’s JURASSIC PARK eleven years later. The first film to prove the filmmaker had the golden touch was his second feature, JAWS, which also changed the movie industry forever by becoming the first film to earn $100 million at the box office – according to the Guinness World Records.
This groundbreaking hit also demonstrated that summer was the best time to release high-stakes genre pictures of this genre, which is why it is credited as the first blockbuster. However, JAWS’ impact goes beyond cinematic history, having also inspired the many people who saw it to stay above water.
Brings a unique vision and perspective
How did Steven Spielberg pull off such a chilling adaptation of Peter Benchley’s novel with JAWS? Well, for starters, the mechanical shark that was built for the movie was subject to so many technical problems that the director was forced to borrow a page from Alfred Hitchcock’s textbook and keep the main antagonist hidden for much of the film. It turned out to be a happy accident, which made the official reveal of the Predator all the more surprising.
However, the slow-building suspense aside, what really makes JAWS such a refreshing thriller for its time is its compelling and gritty approach to its macabre subject matter. Very few creature features before it have felt so authentic in their execution and only a handful of them released since – particularly the shark movies in particular – have managed to achieve the same result, which is why it remains a timeless classic to this day.
Features an iconic cast
As a movie about shark attacks, JAWS would never have felt so real and, more importantly, so human without the stellar performances of its three main leads. While Roy Scheider was no stranger to thrillers at the time – having received an Oscar nomination for THE FRENCH CONNECTION in 1971 – playing devoted family man and beleaguered police chief Martin Brody solidified him as that legendary Hollywood hero who would maintain that reputation in movies like SORCERER and BLUE THUNDER.
On the other hand, future Oscar winner Richard Dreyfuss – then best known for AMERICAN GRAFFITI – had never made a movie quite like JAWS, but owned the role of oceanographer Matt Hooper and immediately gained man status. foreground that he wore in classics like Spielberg. ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND. Fellow Oscar nominee Robert Shaw was by far the most experienced of high seas adventures – having previously starred in ‘The Buccaneers’ TV series in the late 1950s – but had never been so gritty than in his most iconic role as shark hunter, Quint.
Features A convincing score
You could be relaxing in an enclosed swimming pool miles from any ocean and yet humming the JAWS theme would still manage to wipe out the life of one of your friends or loved ones without fail. So simple yet so effective, it’s no surprise John Williams’ soulful “duh-dum” score won the legendary composer his second Oscar, and it’s impossible to imagine the film would be so thrilling without it.
The music lends so much to the film’s suspenseful effect, especially to let the audience know that our fearsome sea beast is nearby in the scenes where it remains hidden. Williams’ composition remains one of the most instantly recognizable film scores of all time and might be the best horror film score we’ll ever hear.
JAWS had it all in 1975 with a masterful cast, a remarkably chilling score, and an inventive new take on what adventurous horror thrillers could be. All of those perfect ingredients still serve up a tasty treat that you can now relive on the big screen as an AMC handcrafted movie…if you dare.