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Does Jaws hold up 40 years later?

Jaws is a 1975 thriller adventure film and celebrated its 40th anniversary on June 20th. This is based on Peter Benchley's 1974 novel of the same name. The film was directed by Steven Spielberg, who has also directed Saving Private Ryan, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and numerous of other highly regarded films. Jaws is considered to be the first blockbuster in motion picture history. It stars Roy Scheider, Richard Dreyfuss, Robert Shaw, Murray Hamilton, and Lorraine Gary.

When a gigantic shark starts to cause havoc on the small fictional island Amity, it's up to the local police chief to hunt it down with help from a marine scientist and a crazy shark hunter.

Martin Brody (Roy Scheider) is the local police chief and tries to keep the small town safe by any means necessary. After the disappearance of a young woman, Brody wants the beach to be shut down for the safety of the civilians. Mayor Larry Vaughn (Murray Hamilton) is against this and wants the beach to remain open to collect income. He only cares about the money and isn't concern for the tourist's safety. Brody progressively feels guilt that he has to keep quiet about the murders.

Quint (Robert Shaw), professional shark hunter, is very determined to capture the shark for a bounty. Shaw was perfectly casted as the relentless, lunatic bounty hunter. The dedication in the character is astounding as Quint might be one of the greatest, memorable characters in film history. He is a perfect rival for the shark. Matt Hooper (Richard Dreyfuss), marine biologist, who was asked to visit and give his expertise on the situation, just wants to do the right thing and help with whatever he can.

The three protagonists go on a mission to hunt the shark together as a team as that is the whole third act. This is where the film shines the most. "Jaws" is all about the characters more than the shark. The chemistry between the three is fantastic and engaging. The three distinct personalities clash and tension is high. Money, emotions, and safety is on the table. There were reports about behind the scene problems between Shaw and Dreyfuss because of Shaw's intensity and competitiveness. That didn't seem to cause any problems on screen, in fact, probably enhances the chemistry and acting between the two.

Steven Spielberg was put into stardom after this film. This wasn't his directorial debut but this film was at the time, the highest-grossing film in history. He crafted intense scenes due to camera angles and music. John Williams score is considered to best one of the best of all time. It's one of those themes that can be played at any moment and anybody will recognize it. The score also won an Academy Award for Best Original Dramatic Score (along with winning two more awards).

The mechanical body of the shark was broken and malfunctioned. This turned out to be one of the greatest things to happen for the film. Steven Spielberg used a lot of point of view shots to hide the shark and used John Williams score to build the illusion of the shark. They weren't any cheap jump scares, the mystery on how big the creature was, was scary enough. With the dreadful theme playing in the background with the direction of the shark's movements was devastating around America.

This film not only scared people in theaters but on actual beaches. People were afraid to go swimming because of the risk of a shark attack. It put fear into the eyes of millions worldwide.

Steven Spielberg directed masterfully for his first big project and dealt with his obstacles with creativity and tenacity. The design of the shark was practical and sadly has not gotten better over time. But in my opinion, I don't care how it looks. Everything else is done so well, I was already sucked in and was rooting for the three protagonists throughout the entire adventure. Jaws is not only a magnificent summer blockbuster, but a great film overall. Definitely one of the most influential pieces of cinema ever. Directors of horror films should take notes on how to get audiences engaged in this type of atmosphere. Write great characters, use smart camera angles, and don't let special effects overwhelm the film.

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