The title music ensues, duh duh…duh duh, then gets faster and faster and you feel your heart in your mouth, the shark is going to strike at any moment! We all know the Jaws theme and it is funny how I often think of the theme even before picturing events in the actual film. Maybe that is testament to John Williams’ superb score. It could be argued that the rather basic two note repetition is not sophisticated in terms of film soundtracks. I would suggest that the simplicity is what makes it so memorable and durable and accessible to audiences worldwide.
With the theme song firmly resonating in the head, onto some thoughts on the film. It made its appearance on Blu-ray a few years back, but still I enjoy returning to the disc and reliving the experience. It is a film for all seasons, though always goes down well in the months of June or July, when summer is in full throw.
The quality on the disc is a step up from that on DVD, though some of the footage still has not cleaned up that well. The rather murky introduction was a scene I had been itching to see in absolute crystal clarity, yet this still had a rather muddy look to it. I think if one compares the clean up process of the likes of the Star Wars or Bond films, there is a notable difference in quality. Maybe Jaws will get run through the cleanup machines again and an even brighter transfer will appear in years down the line. It is on the whole a reasonable transfer onto Blu-ray, but it will unlikely blow you away with the picture quality.
The disc boasts many extras, the documentaries are insightful and long enough to become fully engaged in. Jaws fans will find real value in the extras and these alone are worth the purchase price.
Some thoughts on the film then. Jaws is great because it works for people who love sharks and works for those who despise sharks or who have a fear of them, as it reaffirms for them that sharks are not to be messed with! The broad appeal of the film is perhaps why it was such a resounding success. Given the mystery surrounding sharks and their behaviours, a shark was always going to be a creature that people had a curiousity about, as opposed to a wasp for instance (which might not have been quite so compelling!)
The cast is wonderful. Roy Scheider has always fascinated me as Chief Brody, as he comes across that everyday man who is loyal to his family as well as his job. The film strikes an excellent balance of showing both sides of this character, which is why he is such a likeable central character. Flanked by Richard Dreyfuss and Robert Shaw, the three leads play off each other really well and some of the best scenes are not the shark attacks, but the camaraderie between them. The singing of sea shanties and quips they make to each other while hunting for the shark are a delight. These scenes also help to soften the tension before the shark launches it full scale attack. Spielberg handles this with considerable aplomb.
Jaws works on so many levels and I do not think I have seen a better shark film, despite some decent attemps in recent years. If you are yet to see this film then I urge you to give it a go.
(Author Benjamin Fastnedge – themovieandthemuse).