Damn that's a bold title. And that's the point. I wouldn't mind doing this column a couple times for those few movies that are in the upper echelon of cinema. Those movies that filmmakers across the globe cite as their inspiration and motivation. And there are few that are as revered as this week's Amity Island centered classic . . . Jaws.
This is the ultimate example of being the finest film imaginable. I seriously fucking adore this film. The story is both original, classic and totally understated. The tone, while threatening, does all it can to draw you in, making you feel like you're almost in the waters with the shark himself.
What's all the more remarkable about this film is the story behind it. I know, you should judge solely based on the film itself and trust me, I have. But the filmmaker side of me cannot help but appreciate the work done behind the scenes by Steven Spielberg. This film was a disaster. It went over-budget, absolutely nothing was working on it, and everything seemed to be collapsing in on itself. If it weren't for the good faith of the backers, the movie that changed the industry may not be as we know it.
And that's exactly it: "The movie that changed the industry." That statement is bold yet so very, very true. This is the movie that helped to establish the "summer blockbuster", a concept that never even existed before 1975. Seeing pictures of the lines and lines of people is just jaw dropping. I wish I was there to witness it in person.
Want a moment of pure humanity? Watch the scene with Roy Sheider and his son at the dinner table. As the kid begins mimicking his dad, you realize that these people are real, simply reacting to the circumstances around them. And as soon as they become real, the situation becomes real and you are at the discretion of the filmmaker. Which brings me to what may be the most important aspect of the entire film: Mr Steven Spielberg.
The troubled production has been written about in book after book and made for several entertaining documentaries, and one thing remains evident: this film wouldn't be what it is without Spielberg at the helm. I honestly can't imagine being apart of this production. But for as much of a nightmare filming was, it all paid off, creating a more elusive and mysterious villain. I can't imagine the opening scene how it was originally storyboarded: Jaws popping out of the water, seeing it full force right off the bat. Yeah, sometimes you have to be thankful for breakdowns.
Tension is an omnipotent being throughout the duration. It gnaws at you and makes those moments of actual terror all the more impactful. Any shot of water causes you to question what is beneath the surface. It's a brilliant tactic of less is more. Your imagination does more than they could ever do on celluloid.
Jaws is a film I can put on no matter what time of year or mood I'm in. It fits any situation for me because I appreciate so much about it. The 70s simplicity, the 2.34:1 aspect ratio, the beach, the skinny dipper, the USS Indianapolis. Just listing these excites me to no end. I honestly don't think there's ever been a film like Jaws and I don't think there ever will be again. At least we got one.
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