So I finally watched 'Jaws' for the very first time0 Comments
Posted Friday, August 17, 2012 at 1:06 PM Central
Last updated Friday, August 17, 2012 at 1:40 PM Central
by Tim Briscoe
I'll admit that I have numerous holes in my movie-watching history. There are several classic films that I have yet to see. It was only a month ago that I watched Batman Begins and The Dark Knight after being called out publicly by my colleague John.
This being that magical time of year -- you know, "Shark Week" -- I decided to finally give Jaws my first viewing. After all, it was just released on Blu-ray for the first time.
I'm sure I've seen bits and pieces of Jaws over the years. Certain parts were recognizable. Or perhaps the film has just become such a part of our public consciousness that it all seems familiar. You know, the famous parts: the "You're gonna need a bigger boat" line, the entire USS Indianapolis speech, the iconic John Williams theme music.
Before watching this one, the Jaws movie I remembered most was 1983's Jaws 3-D. I saw it on HBO as a kid. Man, that was bad. I wish I could say that influenced my decision to not see the original but it simple laziness.
After watching Jaws I now understand what the fuss was all about. The movie is phenomenal, but you already know that. Turns out this Steven Spielberg guy is a pretty good filmmaker. (Yes, I have watched numerous other Spielberg films. I'm not that bad of a movie fan.) It's hard to believe the director was just 26 years old when he made this.
I have even more respect Spielberg now. I also have a ton of newfound respect for Roy Scheider and Robert Shaw. Their performances as Police Chief Brody and fisherman Quint, respectively, really anchor the film. (Pun intended.) It's a shame Shaw would die just three years later at the age of 51.
I will say that it's a bit odd seeing the movie in retrospect. Over the years I had already absorbed many of the countless films that were inspired by it or blatantly stole from Jaws. It's liberal borrowing that continues to this day. Case in point, there's a new shark horror film titled Bait that's coming to DVD and Blu-ray next month.
There are much more than the literal rip-offs. This film from 1975 started the trend of the summer blockbuster. If Jaws didn't start the "event film" phenomenon would we have had The Avengers or The Dark Knight Rises this year?
Besides the stunning cinematography there was also the tremendous (landmark?) underwater footage. Spielberg gave this film such a timeless feeling. Sure some of the fashions are out of style and there's the pervasive cigarette smoking (the mayor, of all people, smokes in the hospital for Pete's sake!) but it has the feel of a modern movie.
The film's pacing is a bit slower than I expected. It doesn't really play like a traditional thriller like I imagined it would. The film doesn't have the instant bang-for-your-buck that we get these days. For instance, the shark doesn't make his first visible appearance until the second half of the show. Perhaps Hollywood should return to the slower form of storytelling. It makes the payoff that much greater.
And there's the practical effects of Jaws. The mechanical shark they used to make the movie is a big part of its legend. Nicknamed "Bruce," it wouldn't work that well so they had to scale back its performance. That necessitated the need for the yellow barrels to mark his appearance above water. The trick paid off and provided for more tension in a Hitchcock-ian sort of way.
If Spielberg and the producers could've used the digital effects common today, we wouldn't have had any of that. It's safe to say that Jaws wouldn't have been the powerful film it remains.
Thankfully the Blu-ray includes numerous small documentaries and featurettes that pay tribute to the film and explain the circumstances of its creation. It's all an excellent education for any movie fan but especially for one who wants to learn more about filmmaking. They are also a worthy parable for how obstacles in life can provide us with splendid accidents.
I'm very happy I finally had the chance to see this film. It instantly catapulted into my top 20 favorite films of all-time. Maybe I should get around to watching The Godfather next.
Blu-ray Bonus Materials:
- Digitally remastered and fully restored from high resolution 35MM original film elements to get the most from your HDTV.
- Digital Copy of Jaws (download by 4/30/2015).
- UltraViolet Copy of Jaws (download/redeem by 4/30/2015).
- The Shark is Still Working: The Impact & Legacy of Jaws - All-new feature-length documentary featuring never-before-seen footage and interviews with cast and crew including Steven Spielberg, Richard Dreyfuss and Roy Scheider.
- The Making of Jaws: A feature-length documentary featuring interviews with key cast and crew.
- Jaws: The Restoration - An all-new in-depth look at the intricate process of restoring the movie.
- Deleted Scenes and Outtakes
- From the Set: An insider’s look at life on the set of Jaws, featuring an interview with Steven Spielberg.
- Production Photos
- Marketing Jaws
- Jaws Phenomenon
- Original Theatrical Trailer
- pocket BLU: App for smartphones and tablets. Take content on the go!
- BD-Live: Internet-connected features.
- My Scenes: Bookmark your favorite scenes.