Jaws (movie)

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This article is about the movie; for other uses of the term, see jaws (disambiguation).

Template:Infobox Movie

Jaws (1975) is an American film, based upon a bestselling novel by Peter Benchley, which tells the story of a resort town's sheriff who tries to protect beachgoers from the predations of a huge great white shark by closing the beach, only to be overruled by the town council. It was directed by Steven Spielberg and stars Roy Scheider, Robert Shaw, Richard Dreyfuss and Lorraine Gary.



The film opens with a young girl swimming a little far from Amity Island, a New England island that is a summer resort. Suddenly, she begins to get jerked around and is pulled under. The next morning, Martin Brody (Scheider), the sheriff of Amity Island, finds some of her remains and concludes that she was killed in a shark attack.

He then orders the beaches to be closed. However, the town mayor ignores the protests about the danger of more shark attacks and orders the beaches kept opened, as Amity is dependent on the money it makes from its summertime and, especially, Fourth of July business, and tells Brody to say the girl was killed by a boat propeller. A few days later, a boy is killed by the shark while swimming on a crowded beach and his mother places a substantial bounty on the animal. When marine biologist Matt Hooper examines the remains of the first victim, he becomes convinced that a very large and dangerous shark was responsible, more specifically, a Great White Shark which is an extremely voracious predator, known to be dangerous to humans.

A large tiger shark is caught, but upon examining it, Hooper declares that the attacks were the work of a much larger fish. Brody wants the beaches closed, but Mayor Vaughn, again refusing to accept the possibility of danger, refuses. After another victim is devoured and Brody's son is nearly killed on the Fourth of July, Brody, Hooper, and shark hunter Quint (Shaw) set out in Quint's boat, the Orca, to face and hopefully destroy the man-eater.

Production History

The film was produced by Richard Zanuck and David Brown, who had purchased the film rights to Peter Benchley's novel in 1973. His novel was loosely based on a real-life event in the summer of 1916 when a series of shark attacks killed four people along the New Jersey coast and triggered a media frenzy. They signed Spielberg to direct in the same year, prior to release of his first theatrical film, The Sugarland Express (also a Zanuck / Brown production). Despite his lack of feature film experience, Spielberg had proved adept at suspense material with the 1971 telemovie Duel.

Peter Benchley wrote the first draft of the screenplay, with a subsequent draft prepared by Howard Sackler. Carl Gottlieb (who also appears in a supporting acting role in the film) was brought in to add humour and more depth to the characters. Gottlieb rewrote many scenes during principal photography, and John Milius contributed some dialogue polishes. Spielberg has claimed that he prepared his own draft, although it is unclear if any of the other screenwriters drew on his material.

The authorship of Quint's monologue about the fate of the cruiser USS Indianapolis has caused substantial controversy, with dispute as to who deserves the most credit for the speech. Spielberg tactfully describes it as a collaboration between John Milius, Howard Sackler and Robert Shaw. Gottlieb gives primary credit to Shaw, downplaying Milius' contribution.

Location shooting occurred at Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts. The film had a troubled shoot and went considerably over budget. The logistical problems of shooting at sea led to many delays, and the mechanical shark frequently malfunctioned. The three mechanical sharks were collectively nicknamed "Bruce" by the production team after Spielberg's lawyer, a piece of trivia that has been cited in a number of shark-related stories (such as the appearance of the shark in 2003's Finding Nemo). Spielberg referred to the mechanical shark as "the turd" on a British programme about famous horror scenes and confessed that they had even less flattering names for it throughout filming.

To some degree, the delays in the production proved serendipitous. The script was refined during production, and the unreliable mechanical sharks forced Spielberg to shoot many of the scenes with the shark only hinted at. For example, for much of the shark hunt its location is represented by floating yellow barrels that have been tied to it during the hunt. This enforced restraint is widely thought to have increased the suspense of many scenes, giving it a Hitchcockian tone.

Footage of real sharks was shot by Ron and Valerie Taylor in waters off South Australia, although only a handful of these shots were used in the finished film.

John Williams' contributed the acclaimed film score. The main theme became a classic piece of suspense music, synonymous with approaching danger.

Impact and Significance

Upon its release, the film was the first to reach more than $100 million in box-office receipts, a feat not matched until Star Wars, two years later in 1977. It was a key film in establishing the benefits of a wide national release backed by heavy media advertising, rather than a progressive release that let a film slowly enter new markets and build support over a period of time. The wide national release pattern would become standard practice for high profile movies in the late 1970s and after.

Jaws is also often cited as indicating a shift in the type of movies made by Hollywood studios. Along with The Exorcist and Star Wars, it is an example of a high-budget movie in what had previously been considered a disreputable or low-budget genre (in this case, suspense / horror). The runaway success of these films led to an increased shift in production towards such genres by studios in the following decades.

Though a horror classic (voted to have the scariest scenes ever by a Bravo Halloween TV special), the film is widely recognized to be responsible for many fearsome and inaccurate stereotypes about sharks and their behavior. Benchley is quoted as saying that he never would have written the original novel had he known what sharks are really like in the wild.

Jaws was followed by three sequels, generally regarded as increasingly poor in quality as compared to the original: Jaws 2 (1978), Jaws 3-D (1983) and Jaws: The Revenge (1987).

30th anniversary

Missing image

In celebration of the 30th anniversary of the film's release, JawsFest, a festival held in Martha's Vineyard, took place in June 2005. The film will also be released on DVD, featuring the full two hour documentary originally featured on the LaserDisc release. A one hour version of this documentary had been included on an earlier DVD release.


It won Academy Awards for Best Film Editing, Best Music (Original Score) and Best Sound. It was also nominated for Best Picture. The film is consistently on the Internet Movie Database's list of top 250 films and was #48 on American Film Institute's 100 Years, 100 Movies and #2 on its 100 Years, 100 Thrills. The shark was also anointed #18 on AFI's 100 Years, 100 Heroes and Villains, opposite Robin Hood. In 2001 the United States Library of Congress deemed the film "culturally significant" and selected it for preservation in the National Film Registry.

External links

Template:Jaws movies Template:Steven Spielberg's filmsde:Der weie Hai es:Tiburn (pelcula) fr:Les Dents de la mer ja:ジョーズ nl:Jaws pt:Jaws


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