The Mark of Excellence

Jaws 30th Anniversary Edition

Directed by Steven Spielberg

> > Jul 2005

Jaws 30th Anniversary Edition - Directed by Steven Spielberg
By Chris GramlichIf you've read/seen Easy Riders, Raging Bulls, or are a fan of film history in general, you're aware that Jaws has fairly or unfairly been deemed the film that ushered in the era of the blockbuster and marked the end of the reign of the Hollywood maverick director as auteur. It is generally also regarded as an inferior film to the era whose death knell it signalled (it's a monster movie, after all). But it wasn't Jaws that killed the era of the auteur; it was the excess/arrogance of the directors. And despite unquestionably being a "blockbuster" (it was the first movie to crack the mythical 100-million mark), it's a remarkable film. Loosely based on the Jersey Beach shark attacks of 1916, Jaws is the tale of a gigantic rogue Great White Shark who terrorises the summer vacation spot of Amity Island. While Jaws has gone on to become a pop-culture phenomenon since its release in 1975, the film was, and remains, effective because of Spielberg's (who recently won best director ever honours!) decision to show the shark only fleetingly because of its limitations (it looked fake and seldom worked), using the camera to convey the shark's perspective, thus heightening the terror and suspense. The acting by the principals is also excellent (Roy Scheider as police chief Brody; the iconic Robert Shaw as the shark-hunter Quint; and a young Richard Dreyfuss as Hooper, a shark expert), and let's not forget the burned into our brains theme ("dun, dun"); Spielberg even admits that the film would have only been half as effective without John Williams's score. In terms of extras, there's a "never before seen" interview with a very young Spielberg on set, which is more remarkable for how young and cocky Spielberg appears than anything that is said, the same deleted scenes and outtakes that were on the Anniversary Edition of Jaws and an impressive-looking photo booklet. But it's the two-hour documentary on the "making of" Jaws that is the prize, as it goes into intimate detail on the now legendary problems that plagued the production (for example, the mechanical shark was never tested and sunk the first time it was introduced to water). Thirty years later and people are still afraid to go into the water, now that's a legacy. (Universal)


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