Sink Your Teeth Into Jaws. No, Really.


If you enjoy suspenseful thrillers with iconic characters and a classic storyline, then Jaws is a must-watch movie for you.

The 1975 movie directed by Steven Spielberg is not only considered a classic and one of the greatest films of all time, but it also set the standard for modern day suspense and thriller movies. The tension builds throughout the film, keeping you on the edge of your seat until the thrilling climax.

The plot is simple: When a killer shark unleashes chaos on a beach community off Cape Cod, it’s up to a local sheriff, a marine biologist, and an old seafarer to hunt the beast down. Jaws also features memorable and iconic characters that you will not forget, such as the determined and relatable Chief Brody played by Roy Scheider, the charismatic yet dangerous Quint played by Robert Shaw, and the knowledgeable and intelligent Matt Hooper, played by Richard Dreyfuss. All of their unique personalities bring something different to the film, and make the story a little more realistic. My personal favorite is Chief Brody, Amity Island’s sheriff, because he is the “everyman”—the character with whom the audience can most easily identify. He doesn’t have any special powers, he’s no genius; just a good guy with common sense doing his job the best he can.

Director Steven Spielberg, famous for his exceptional storytelling and technical mastery of filmmaking, was able to create a thrilling atmosphere throughout the movie, making it a classic example of the suspense genre. Spielberg has a unique ability to tell engaging and memorable stories that resonate with audiences. He is skilled at using visual language to communicate complex ideas and emotions. His cinematic style is very iconic, and immediately recognizable. You can find this unique imagery in Poltergeist, ‘Salem’s Lot, and even Jaws. His small-town settings suggest tight-knit communities that invest the viewer more completely in the plot and overall outcome of the film, since many of them are about defeating evil, whether it be a ghost, vampires, or a man-eating shark.

The film’s score, composed by the legendary John Williams, is as iconic as the characters, and it elevates the suspenseful atmosphere of the movie to another level. The first half of the film uses the score to warn the audience of the impending danger of the shark, heightening the suspense of the attacking creature, using the music to set the crowd up. In fact, music scholar Joseph Cancellaro proposes that the two-note expression actually mimics the shark’s heartbeat.

Additionally, the movie has a deeper underlying theme of the dangers of human hubris and the destructive impact we can have on the environment, making it more than just a simple thriller. The villain of the piece—the shark—is a rare example of an antagonist in a film completely divorced from human agency. The threat comes solely and purely from the natural environment.

Jaws also had a significant cultural impact on the film industry and society as a whole. Here are some of the ways that the film left a lasting impact:

  • It was a blockbuster film: Jaws was the first movie to gross over $100 million at the box office, launching the era of the summer blockbuster. The film, which cost roughly $9 million to make, would go on to gross $260 million in the United States alone, surpassing records set by previous blockbusters like 1972’s The Godfather and 1973’s The Exorcist. This paved the way for other blockbuster films, such as Star Wars, Indiana Jones, and Jurassic Park.
  • Fear of sharks: Jaws popularized the idea of sharks as a threat to humans and created a lasting fear of sharks in the public consciousness. Scientists in California believe that the film led to a generation of galeophobes — people with an irrational fear of sharks. This all led to increased conservation efforts for sharks, as well as an increased interest in shark-related media.
  • Cinematography and special effects: Jaws utilized groundbreaking special effects and camera techniques, including the use of mechanical sharks (three to be exact) and underwater filming. This helped to push the boundaries of what was possible in film and paved the way for future advancements in special effects and cinematography.

Overall, Jaws is a cinematic masterpiece that has stood the test of time, and it is a must-watch for anyone who loves movies that keep you on the edge of your seat, with unforgettable characters and a classic storyline.