JAWS (1975) reviews and overview of shark attack classic

 

Jaws 45th-anniversary limited edition 4K Ultra HD release specs have been revealed by Universal, for a release dated on June 2nd 2020.

In addition to a Blu-ray and Digital copy, the package includes lenticular packaging and a 44-page booklet with introductions, rare photos, storyboards and more archival content. Order via Amazon.com

Special features from the previous Blu-ray are included:

  • The Making of Jaws – 1995 feature-length documentary with cast and crew
  • The Shark Is Still Working: The Impact & Legacy of Jaws – 2007 feature-length documentary with cast and crew
  • Jaws: The Restoration – 2012 featurette
  • From the Set – Vintage featurette
  • Deleted scenes and outtakes
  • Theatrical trailer
  • Storyboard gallery (Blu-ray only)
  • Production photo gallery (Blu-ray only)
  • Marketing Jaws gallery (Blu-ray only)
  • Jaws Phenomenon gallery (Blu-ray only)

Jaws is a 1975 American horror thriller feature film directed by Steven Spielberg and based on Peter Benchley’s novel of the same name. The prototypical summer, blockbuster its release is regarded as a watershed moment in motion picture history.

The film stars Roy Scheider (The Curse of the Living Corpse) as police chief Martin Brody, Richard Dreyfuss as oceanographer Matt Hooper, Robert Shaw (A Reflection of Fear) as shark hunter Quint, Murray Hamilton as the mayor of Amity Island, and Lorraine Gary as Brody’s wife, Ellen. The screenplay is credited to both Benchley, who wrote the first drafts, and actor-writer Carl Gottlieb, who rewrote the script during principal photography.

Plot:

giant man-eating great white shark attacks beachgoers on Amity Island, a fictional summer resort town, prompting the local police chief to hunt it with the help of a marine biologist and a professional shark hunter.

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Shot mostly on location on Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, the film had a troubled production, going over budget and past schedule. As the art department’s mechanical sharks suffered many malfunctions, Spielberg decided to mostly suggest the animal’s presence, employing an ominous, minimalistic theme created by composer John Williams to indicate the shark’s impending appearances. Spielberg and others have compared this suggestive approach to that of classic thriller director Alfred Hitchcock.

Universal Pictures gave the film what was then an exceptionally wide release for a major studio picture, over 450 screens, accompanied by an extensive marketing campaign with a heavy emphasis on television spots and tie-in merchandise.

Generally well-received by critics, Jaws became the highest-grossing film in history at the time. It won several awards for its soundtrack and editing, and it is often cited as one of the greatest films of all time. Along with 1977’s Star WarsJaws was pivotal in establishing the modern Hollywood business model, which revolves around blockbuster action and adventure pictures with simple “high-concept” premises that are released theatrically in the summer and supported by heavy advertising. It was followed by three inferior sequels, none with the participation of Spielberg or Benchley, and many imitative thrillers.

Reviews:

“The characterisation is precise and acutely observed (it’s one of the great guys-on-a-mission flicks), the dialogue is witty and wise, and the plot fits together like a finely crafted watch. The performances – not just leads, but the kids, townsfolk and the grief-stricken mother too – are impeccable. Best of all is Steven Spielberg’s direction…” Time Out

Jaws is too gruesome for children and likely to turn the stomach of the impressionable at any age. … It is a coarse-grained and exploitative work which depends on excess for its impact. Ashore it is a bore, awkwardly staged and lumpily written.”Los Angeles Times, June 20, 1975

“Spielberg is blessed with a talent that is absurdly absent from most American filmmakers these days: this man actually knows how to tell a story on screen. … It speaks well of this director’s gifts that some of the most frightening sequences in Jaws are those where we don’t even see the shark.” New Times magazine

“Mr. Spielberg has so effectively spaced out the shocks that by the time we reach the spectacular final confrontation between the three men and the great white shark, we totally accept the makebelieve on its own foolishly entertaining terms.” New York Times, June 21, 1975

“The familiar musical theme by John Williams is not a shrieker, but low and insinuating. It’s often heard during point-of-view shots, at water level and below, that are another way Spielberg suggests the shark without showing it. The cinematography, by Bill Butler, is at pains to tell the story in the midst of middle-class America; if Spielberg’s favorite location would become the suburbs, “Jaws” shows suburbanites on vacation.” Roger Ebert,

” …despite genuinely suspenseful and frightening sequences, it is a slackly narrated and sometimes flatly handled thriller with an over-abundance of dialogue and, when it finally appears, a pretty unconvincing monster.” James Halliwell, Halliwell’s Film Guide

Offline reading:

Jaws – BFI Classics by Antonia Quirke, British Film Institute, UK, 2002 – available from Amazon.co.uk

The Jaws Log: Expanded Edition by Carl Gottlieb, 2012 – available from Amazon.com | Amazon.co.uk

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Jaws cups movie tie-in

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