Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Film Review: Jaws 1975 Steven Spielberg

Jaws (1975) 

Figure 1 - Film poster

A excellent production and suspense thrilled movie, Jaws is Spielberg's adaptation of Peter Benchley's novel. Eht5y comments in their review that  it ''[Jaws]is the original summer blockbuster, setting the standard by which all others are measured. It's the Michael Jordan of cinema: there will never be another 'Jaws,' simply because the film so profoundly changed the way movies are made and marketed.'' (Eht5y, 2004). It's a movie where it is said to mark the beginning of how  movie should be made in a ideal way. For an older movie, this scared a lot of young viewers, and is a fully package carnage of a thriller movie, with a story pumped with jump scares; powerful sound effects and a camera - even though was supposedly the shark as the mechanical shark had malfunctions. 

Simply put, the film depicts a story about a great white shark that attacks people who go swimming in its waters. This leads on to killing them and causing a spike in interest of a marine biologist who feels that it is better that they shut the beach down first for safety, but the Mayor seems to be more worried about tourism, money income and his publicity than the the safety of the people. After many more attacks, the group consisting of the biologist, a shark hunter and the chief decided that killing the shark themselves would save a lot of time, be safer and quicker.  They couldn't be more wrong. 

Throughout the move you can start to get the hint that there is a hidden message within the movie. A rather vague one at that. The shark, with its large jaw and teeth is represented as ''Vaginal Dentata'' (Latin for a woman's Vagina with teeth), the men, once so eager to enter the ''water'', now tremble in fear and do not want to venture there anymore. This is a intricate way of showing how sexual intercourse with a female, with teeth, would cause serious damage to both partners.  In other words it's a woman who is both beautiful and frightful, infected with some STD, and threatens the men who want her. The men who are after the shark in this interpretation are aware of the situation and do not want to just in case they suffer. A couple of quotes from Peter Biskind about some other symbolism that the shark could represent,  ''A few years ago, during the Cold War, the shark would have stood for International Communism, pure and simple. '' and ''While the shark serves as a convenient metaphor for sexual and class power, this metaphor is extended in the book to include the town’s relation with its summer guests as well. It becomes clear that the town’s handful of year-round residents need the summer traffic to survive the year.'' (Biskind, 1975). (See Fig 2).

Fig 2 Movie Still

There are many moments within the film that cause the audience to be on their toes, the most tense of these segments are definitely when we seem to not notice the shark in full body. We only ever see signs at the start, like it's fin, but you know when then shark is there because of the sound effects. There were many issues when making the film, this didn't hinder the productions,  Joe Alves states “When we were running out of time, it wasn't that we were going to use the shark so much more,” Alves continues. “When the shark wasn't working, we shot everything we could shoot. What worked well for us is we used the barrels to represent the shark, and it did so in a very dramatic way. That was sort of planned, and it allowed us to keep shooting while we didn't have the shark.'' (Alves, 2013). As the audience watched, their hearts become synced and become restless and react to little things that wouldn't usually spike a reaction, and associating them to being the shark even when they are not, just like when we seeing the dead body pop out of the boat and the yellow barrels that were shot at the shark so that they can locate its position.

It is quite remarkable that with a faulty mechanical shark, no CGI and a lot of open water, Spielberg created a unusual but exciting adventure. Simon Reynolds will conclude with “Quite simply, Jaws is a masterclass in blockbuster entertainment -- a tense, exciting thriller that redefined contemporary cinema.” (Reynolds, 2013)


Eht5y (2004) Jaws. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0073195/reviews (accessed on: 24/03/2015)

P, Biskind (1975) Jaws.http://www.ejumpcut.org/archive/onlinessays/JC09folder/Jaws.html

Alves, J (2013) Jaws.  http://www.tested.com/art/movies/456576-robot-shark-technology-jaws/ (accessed on: 24/03/2015)

Reynolds, S (2013) Jaws. (http://www.digitalspy.com/movies/review/a387349/jaws-review-steven-spielbergs-shark-classic-returns-to-uk-cinemas.html (accessed on: 24/03/2015)


Figure 1 (1975) [Film Poster] https://fathersonholygore.files.wordpress.com/2015/02/jaws.jpg

Figure 2 (1975) [Movil Still] http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/jaws/jaws_shot4l.jpg


  1. Interesting review Julia. :)
    Just make sure you proofread before you post, so that your writing says what you think it does... here for example, I had a little giggle -
    'This is a intricate way of showing how sexual intercourse with a female, with teeth, would cause serious damage to both partners.' - its the 'intercourse with a female with teeth' that made me smile :)

  2. Film reviews seem to be draining and dull, I don't think there is anything wrong with a little humor :) ;)