Wednesday, 17 February 2016

'Jaws 1975' It's Jawdropping! 17/02/2016

Figure 1: 'Jaws 1975' Poster
This film review will focus on the film 'Jaws 1975', this film is one of the most recognizable films of all time. This is one of Steven Spielberg's best pieces of work and set him up later for him other films such as Jurassic Park, Indiana Jones and E.T. A fun little fact is near the end of the film during the fight with the shark you can spot white lines appear across the sky, those were actually shooting stars! The were not edited in but happened on set.

The music for the film is some of the most recognizable you will ever hear, the iconic 'Dun Dun - Dun Dun - Dun Dun' noise signaling build-up and anticipation is known by almost everybody. The film was directed by Steven Spielberg, produced by Richard D. Zanuck and David Brown, the screenplay was done by Peter Benchley and Carl Gottlieb, the cinematography was done by Bill Butler and the music was done by John Williams.

Jaws is an amazing film, whilst still having some flaws due to problems with the mechanical shark and budgeting the film came out a huge success. "Steven Spielberg's Jaws, a brilliant film of so much more than just short shark shocks, changed the cinema experience forever. It was the original Hollywood blockbuster, the first film to gross more than $100 million." (M Chilton. 2015)

Figure 2: Crowd of People
Once again Steven Spielberg's film  is layered with references to masculinity and manhood, how a situation is dealt with and its impact on the characters. First off lets look at the characters, we have Quint (Robert Shaw) who is an adept fisherman who specializes in hunting sharks, Martin Brody (Roy Scheider) who is the sheriff of his town and Matt Hooper  (Richard Dreyfuss) who is a marine biologist. So each of them represent a particular kind of masculinity, Quint is this very hardened man who is almost like some sort of savage or caveman if there is some kind of pain he can take it. Martin Brody is a symbol of order and comfort, his is the only one out of the three who we actually see interacting with other people, there are smaller conversations with other characters but whenever there is Martin is almost always there, reinforcing his position as Sheriff which is to protect and know his town. The fact he also has a family and we see him interacting with as reinforces that he has something that he needs to protect. Then there is Matt Hooper, Matt is a large amount different from the other two, whilst still being a male he does not have either the muscle or skill to be very masculine, however in its place he uses intelligence as an adequate substitute, what he lacks in strength he makes up in intelligence. So we have this trinity of three versions of masculinity, as the journey goes on we do begin to understand the disadvantages and advantages of each character.

Near the end of the film we would expect each of the men to die in order, the weak and feeble scientist Matt would be killed first, then Martin and finally finishing off Quint, however what Jaws does really well it completely flip this concept on its head. Quint is the first to be killed by the shark which was a massive surprise, whilst he has all of this experience and power because of his masculinity he is careless and that's what ends up getting him killed, dying for his masculinity. Another interesting point is how the shark is killed, the team tries firing arrows, bullet and barrels at the shark, showing that brute force is not going to kill this massive beast. Instead what happens is Martin shoves an explosive in it mouth, waits for the right moment and fires his rifle blowing up the canister along with the shark. It not brute force that won this battle in particular but rather smarts and skill.

Figure 3: Jaws on the Boat
The environment in which most of the action takes place in is the sea and our main enemy is this massive shark that is killing everyone. There are a number of theories as to the symbolism of the shark, one of the more popular ones being that this shark is some sort of sexual predator. This does seem rather odd aloud but conceptually lets look at some features our antagonist has, or where does he come from. The ocean can reinforce one part of the sharks nature which is that he is a tactical hunter, using the shadows to sneak up on his prey. Now the shark does not have a shadow to hide in but rather the cover of the ocean, because light cannot pass through it is very hard to see what lurks either in the distance or below. Now the first killing at the start of the film is of a young woman, as Jaws approaches he approaches from below it would seem getting this very purvey view of the bottom of this girl, like some sort of pervert. Then when he finally strikes although this single shark encounter last way longer than it should it is still very interesting to note the language she uses "It hurts! It hurts!" she could have said anything else but the fact she states this so clearly can give an impression of something more going on here.

 Another thing to note about the shark is how it attacks it prey, having massive 'Jaws' it can dismember parts of its prey making it useless and easier to kill. When Martin is looking at the book on sharks there is a brief shot where he flicks through pages almost all of them containing pictures of dismembered humans, or chunks of their body missing. This means that logically this shark could represent some sort of rapist, stalking it prey without it know, then attacking and making its victim enter a state of physical trauma where is immobilized, after that the shark can do whatever it wants to its 'Prize'. "Instantly dubbed a technobrat, he laces the narrative with tricksy delights - reverse zooms, fast edits, woozy oceanbound camerawork." (W Thomas. 2011)

Figure 4: Martin Brody
The main theme of the film in a nutshell is that there is big shark killing everyone, there is then a manhunt for the shark and in the end the shark is killed. There is once again a slight amount more logic behind the way this build up has been set up. The iconic theme for the film (Jaws Theme) is made specifically for the intention of build up, then something horrific happening. So for most of the film we only catch glimpses of this beast right up to the end where were met face to face. So up until this point there has been this little hint of 'The Great Hunt', people have tried to capture this beast and none have succeeded, then come Quinn and his crew to go on a boat voyage for a couple day to tackle this beast head on, hunting a shark, a feat of mass 'Masculinity'.

The entire conflict between these two sides is more of a waiting game, notice how there are long breaks in the film where is jumps from evening to night to day, also to note is Jaws attacking the boat at night, is this on purpose? To put it simply this film is an excellent example for analyzing anticipation, fear and build-up. "Spielberg's decision to follow suit, not unleashing his demon for over an hour — although there is the argument that endless technical difficulties with Bruce (the nickname, based on that of his attorney, he gave Robert Mattey's mechanical sharks) one, two and three contributed to the process — pays off handsomely." (M Dinning. 2000)


Biblography

Chilton, M. (2015) 'Jaws, review: ‘Brilliant and terrifying’' 
In: The Telegraph 20 June 2015 
[online] At: 
(Accessed on 15.2.16)
Dinning, M. (2015) EMPIRE ESSAY: Jaws.
At: 
(Accessed on 15.2.16)

Thomas, W. (2015) Jaws.
At: 
(Accessed on 15.2.16)


Image Bibliography

Figure 1: 'Jaws 1975' Poster

Figure 2: Crowd of People

Figure 3: Jaws on the Boat

Figure 4: Martin Brody

1 comment:

  1. Hi Tom,

    Ok, a few bits and pieces to comment on - firstly, in your opening line you mention the film title 'Jaws 1975'. 'Jaws' should be in italics, and the date in brackets afterwards, otherwise it sounds as though that is the actual name, 'Jaws 1975', like 'Terminator 2'.

    Here you have rather a lot of 'done' - 'the screenplay was done by Peter Benchley and Carl Gottlieb, the cinematography was done by Bill Butler and the music was done by John Williams'. You could have used 'written' and 'composed' for a bit of variety.

    '...getting this very purvey view of the bottom of this girl, like some sort of pervert' - 'Purvey' is not the word you are looking for - this actually means to provide goods for sale, such as in 'Purveyors of fine wine'. You could have used 'sexual' more successfully. You must avoid letting your writing slip into chattiness and keep it academic at all times.

    This quote, "Instantly dubbed a technobrat, he laces the narrative with tricksy delights - reverse zooms, fast edits, woozy oceanbound camerawork" seems disconnected from the paragraph you have attached it to - always make sure that the quote is supporting what you are discussing at the time.

    Sorry to be so niggly; you have made some interesting observations on masculinity anyway :)

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