Movie Review: Jaws


Digital illustration by Camille Cherney ’20.

George Purdy, Writer

Jaws, a classic drama/mystery film directed by Stephen Spielberg, was released in 1975. It is based on the best-selling novel by the same name.

The film faced many initial challenges. The budget rose from $4 million to $8 million due to a myriad of issues on set. Most notably, the mechanical shark Spielberg planned to use was not working.

However, Spielberg crafted a clever solution.

Instead of showing the shark, Spielberg decided to allude to its presence by showing a girl thrashing around in the water and dying without ever revealing the creature. 

The first scene establishes a standard that the majority of the movie follows.  

Quint, a grizzled fisherman, describes the shark, claiming it can “swallow you whole.” This scene emphasizes Quint’s fear of the animal, showing the audience that the animal is a real threat.

Another great scene features Quint telling war stories to Martin Brody.

Quint was on a secret mission to Japan when the first Hiroshima bomb was dropped. They had to evacuate the ship and they ended up stranded in the ocean. The mission was so secret that no distress signal was sent.

Today, many directors would be tempted to use a flashback to tell these stories. However, this is a great actor, telling a great story, in a convincing fashion. This makes Quint much more relatable and makes his mission to kill the shark even more important and terrifying.

The final scene on the boat, when the shark is killed, is when the biggest mistake of the movie comes. In this scene, the boat is sinking after the shark rams into it. Quint slips out of the grasp of Brody and wrestles with the shark for a moment.

Quint ultimately fails and the shark ends up eating him. This is not a bad scene, however, showing the shark takes away much of the tension the viewer was experiencing.

With Quint dead, Brody is the only one left to kill the shark. When the shark attacks him, Brody sticks a gas canister in its mouth. The shark flees but returns to kill Brody.

Brody climbs to the top of the boat and shoots the canister with a rifle. The canister explodes, killing the shark. This is an extremely good climax, but it is ultimately marred by seeing the shark.

 John Williams, who wrote the score, composed a masterpiece which went along perfectly with Spielberg’s vision for the film. The music is menacing and terrifying, leaving viewers in suspense for the entirety of the film.

I think Jaws is one of the greatest films of all time and a historic cinematic achievement. With all the troubles of production, Stephen Spielberg managed to make one of the greatest movies of all time out of nothing.

My final rating is a 10/10.