Jaws is a 1975 film directed by Steven Spielberg. It is based on the book of the same title by Peter Bebchley and is about a rouge Great White Shark stalking a New England beach resort town and it's advantage over them out of it's own bureaucracy. It is thought to have created the Summer Blockbuster.
Martin Brody, a former New York City beat cop gets an opportunity for a better life for himself and family when hired as the Chief of police of an uneventful sleepy island town. Brody is put to the test when a Great White Shark stakes a claim on it's territory's inhabitants. Brody is forced to take matters into his own hands after the shark turns out to be extremely resistant and resourceful amid countless attempts to warn the public and the political muscle of the town fail. He finds help in the form of two unlikely partners to attempt to put the animal down...
Late one night, on one of the many beaches of Amity Island off the coast of New England, a group of teenagers throw a bonfire party. Christine "Chrissy" Watkins, a beautiful blonde, catches the eye of partygoer Thomas "Tom" Cassidy and leads him away from the group to go skinny-dipping with her in the ocean. Tom, quite drunk, passes out on the beach before he can even undress, but Chrissy, undeterred, strips down and dives into the surf.
As Chrissy swims further from the shoreline, she pauses to tread water. Ominous and scary music plays as an unseen creature notices Chrissy's paddling legs from beneath the water's surface and begins to approach her. Chrissy is quickly attacked by the unseen creature, who grabs hold of her leg and violently drags her from side-to-side in the water. Clinging to a buoy, she is dragged away. Her screams for help go unheard, and eerie silence follows her submergence.
The surrounding community of Amity is preparing for the upcoming Independence Day weekend, their most financially beneficial period of the year. The community depends on tourism as a major source of economic support and waits eagerly for each summer to arrive when herds of mainlanders come to savor Amity's shores. Martin Brody, Amity's Chief of Police, receives a call at home regarding Christine "Chrissy" Watkins' disappearance. Following the report made by Tom Cassidy that she was last seen off the coast, Brody goes to the beach with his deputy Jeff Hendricks to search for clues. Hendricks soon stumbles upon the segmented remains of Chrissy, washed up on the shore and being feasted upon by crabs.
Back at the police station, Brody receives a call from the coroner, who determines that Christine "Chrissy" Watkins was the victim of a shark attack. Fearing for the safety of Amity's many swimmers, Brody immediately prepares to close the beaches until further investigations can be made. His intentions are quickly noticed by Mayor Larry Vaughn who, fearing for the income loss that would result from closing the beach at such a pivotal point in the summer, attempts to convince Brody that a shark attack is too hasty a conclusion, and pressures Brody and the coroner to change the Chrissy's official cause of death to being cut up by a boat propeller. Brody remains dedicated to the safety of Amity's citizens and tourists, regardless of the financial toll the town might endure. However, Vaughn prevents him from closing the beaches just yet.
Over the next few days, ferry loads of tourists arrive on Amity's shores. The beaches are crowded each day, and Brody is extremely anxious that there will be another attack. As Brody and his wife Ellen sit in the sand, Brody intently scans the shoreline for any sign of trouble. A ways down the beach, young Alexander "Alex" Kintner asks his mother for permission to go swimming. Though Mrs. Kintner notes that her son's fingers are starting to "prune" from the time he has already spent in the water that day, she allows him ten more minutes. Alex and his yellow raft enter the ocean one last time before Alex is attacked by what is unmistakably an enormous shark. The other swimmers panic and rush out of the water, while the bloodied and shredded remains of Alex Kintner's raft wash up in the surf. Mrs. Kintner calls out desperately for her son, only to find the mangled rubber raft belonging to her son, with blood.
With dozens of witnesses to Alex Kintner's gruesome and violent death, the presence of a shark in Amity waters is certain and Brody is finally permitted to close the beaches. Alex's grieving mother issues a $3000 reward to anyone who can catch the shark that killed her son, and a town meeting is held to discuss the official shark problem. While Brody explains that the police department is expanding their efforts to keep the beaches safe and bringing in a shark expert from the Oceanographic Institute to assist them, most of the assembled townspeople are simply angry about the beaches being closed, although Mayor Vaughn assures them it will only be for 24 hours. The chatter is quelled by Sam Quint, an eccentric and roughened local fisherman who guarantees the capture and slaughter of the offending shark for the price of $10,000. Though his offer is not accepted at that point, Quint seems confident that the job will fall to him eventually.
With Mrs. Kintner's reward made public, scores of amateur shark hunters crowd Amity's docks. Two local men make a clumsy attempt to lure the shark with a pork roast, which results in one of them nearly being the shark's third victim. Arriving at the same time as the horde of overconfident fishermen is Matt Hooper, the shark expert from the Oceanographic Institute hired by the Amity police. After meeting with Brody, Hooper is allowed to view the remains of Christine "Chrissy" Watkins. Hooper, visibly shaken after examining the mangled body parts, assures Brody and the examiner, that this was definitely no boat propeller and that a shark was in fact responsible.
The town breathes a sigh of relief when the corpse of a large tiger shark is hung on the docks, having been caught by some of the contending fishermen. Brody is initially elated, believing the nightmare to be over, until Hooper examines the mouth of the beast and determines that its bite radius did not match the wounds on Christine "Chrissy" Watkins' remains, and therefore was likely not the shark they were seeking. Hooper, assuring that it's the only way to be sure, requests to cut the shark open to search for any bodily remains it might've eaten recently given it's slow digestive system. Brody feels it's the only way to confirm it, but Vaughn does not want to do it right away and especially does not want any witness of it.
The crowd falls silent as Mrs. Kintner arrives, clad in black and choking back tears, presumably returning from her son's funeral. She approaches Brody and furiously accuses him of keeping the beaches open despite having prior knowledge that there was a man-eating shark in the water. She makes clear her belief that Brody was largely responsible for Alex's death. The encounter is depressing to Brody, despite Vaughn telling Brody otherwise, saying her accusations are false.
As Brody attempts to unwind at home, Hooper visits the house to share his thoughts on the shark situation, as he, along with Ellen, join Martin at the dinner table. When Ellen asks about his background, Hooper explains that he had been fascinated by sharks ever since he was a boy and remains just as enthusiastic about studying them, and reveals to Ellen that they still have a shark problem. Ellen thought it was over after hearing on the news that the shark had been caught, but Hooper knows it's not the shark. Hooper theorizes that Amity may have a "rogue shark," in its waters, which will likely remain until its food source is entirely gone. Brody and Hooper decide to examine the stomach contents of the tiger shark, and proceed to the docks. Hooper slices open the shark and finds only some half-eaten fish, bunch of tin cans, and a Louisiana license plate within the last several days -- the plate prompts Hooper to theorize that the shark made it's way up the Atlantic coast from the Gulf of Mexico. With no human remains found in the shark, Hooper is proven right that this is not the shark that caused the attacks and that the shark is still out there. Brody realizes he has to close the beaches again.
Continuing their investigation that night, Hooper takes Brody onto his boat to do some reconnaissance on the water. Brody, who faces an additional source of stress within the shark case due to his fear of the water, drinks heavily before setting foot on the vessel. Using sonar equipment, Hooper locates a large object a good distance away from the shoreline. Brody recognizes it as the boat of Ben Gardner, a local fisherman. Hooper decides to investigate the half-submerged craft, despite Brody's protests, and dons his scuba gear before entering the water. Hooper discovers a large hole in the hull of the boat, and finds an enormous tooth embedded in the side. While examining the tooth, he recognizes it belonging to a Great White. Further investigating, Hooper is horrified to see the corpse of Ben Gardner floating out of the hull, one of his eyes missing. Hooper drops the tooth and his flashlight and rushes to the surface.
Brody and Hooper make yet another attempt to reason with Mayor Vaughn, hoping their discoveries from the previous night will make a difference. Vaughn, however, still stubbornly ignores their words and states that even with the evidence of Ben Gardner's ravaged boat, there is no proof that a shark is responsible. Hooper explains that he pulled a shark tooth "the size of a shot glass" out of the hull of Gardner's boat, but Vaughn merely insults and dismisses him once again since Hooper cannot produce the tooth he dropped in the water. Hooper then grows impatient and tells him that Independence Day weekend won't work out if he doesn't do something with his problem. Brody tries to reason with Vaughn, believing that they can reserve the tourism for August, but Vaughn scoffs this. Though he allows Brody and Hooper to take any action necessary to keep the beaches safe, he still orders them to keep them open.
Independence Day weekend finally arrives along with plenty of tourists, but the beach goers are made uneasy by the numerous police boats patrolling the water for the shark. Vaughn is concerned that no one is swimming, and asks a personal friend in attendance to enter the water, along with his wife and grandchildren, to put everyone's minds at ease. The man and his family reluctantly and warily obey, and others begin to relax and follow suit.
Brody is aiding with shark patrol, while Ellen and their two young sons remain on the beach. When Brody's elder son Michael wishes to take his boat out into the water with one of his friends, Brody asks him to take it into the adjacent estuary just to be safe. While complaining that "the pond is for old ladies," Michael reluctantly agrees. In the meantime, a dorsal fin appears among the swimmers in the main water, and panic ensues. The crowd scrambles back onto the beach, only to learn that the "shark" was merely a cardboard fin and two boys in snorkel gear playing a prank.
The beach goers begin to relax, but a young woman overlooking the water sees the unmistakable form of a huge shark making its way into the estuary, where Michael and his friend are sailing. The woman's cry is first dismissed as another prank, but when Ellen reminds her husband that their son is in the pond, Brody goes to investigate. Michael and his friend are approached by a man in a rowboat, presumably the friend's father, who is instructing them on their knotting techniques, when both vessels are suddenly capsized by the shark. All three of the startled sailors surface, and Michael watches in paralyzed horror as the man fails to reach his rowboat before the shark attacks him and rips him apart.
Michael and his friend are brought safely to shore, though Michael is taken to the hospital to be treated for shock. Brody confronts Vaughn once again and puts his foot down, demanding that real action must be taken to deal with the shark. Vaughn, for once, is vulnerable and shaken, realizing that his own children were on the beach that day as well. He finally relents and gives Brody full permission to do all that is necessary to stop the shark.
Brody seeks out Quint and promptly hires him to catch the shark for $10,000. Though Quint desires to complete the mission alone, Brody insists that he and Hooper will go as well. There is instant tension between Quint and Hooper, with Quint seeing Hooper as a "naive college boy" with no real shark-hunting experience, and Hooper seeing Quint as a "reckless thrill-seeker". Though Hooper proves himself a perfectly capable sailor, the tension remains as the three men embark on their voyage in Quint's boat, the "Orca."
Once out to sea, the men set about attracting the shark by ladling chum off the stern of the boat. Quint attaches a line of piano wire to a sturdy rod secured against a specially-designed fishing chair on the deck. After hours of waiting, the wire goes taut and Quint believes the shark has finally shown up. The shark swims under the boat until the piano wire snaps, proving the immense strength of the beast they are up against.
As the voyage presses on with no further sign of the shark, Brody grumpily ladles more chum off the back of the boat, while Quint continues to show his disdain for Hooper. Without warning, the massive head of a Great White shark emerges from the water for a moment, and we get our first good look at the size of the fish. Brody is stunned and alerts Quint. Hooper notices the shark beginning to circle the boat, and Quint rushes out for a look. He estimates the shark is 25 feet long, and weighs three tons. After barking a few orders to Brody and Hooper, Quint begins to fire harpoons tied to plastic barrels, intended to both slow the shark down and act as visible tracking devices. Though Quint manages to hit the shark with three harpoons, the barrels have no effect and the shark easily pulls them underwater. Just in time, Hooper manages to attach a technological tracking device to the beast before it disappears again.
That night, the men have dinner and drinks below deck and Hooper surprisingly begins to bond with Quint as they compare scars from their experiences with sea creatures. Brody notices that Quint has had a tattoo removed. The mood suddenly darkens as Quint admits that the former tattoo represented the US Navy cruiser "USS Indianapolis", a ship that Hooper knows about. Quint, aboard that ship in World War II when it was sunk by torpedoes from a Japanese submarine during the closing days of the war in July 1945, had witnessed the deaths of roughly 800 men over five days, many of whom were eaten by sharks as they struggled helplessly in the water. Quint's eerie retelling of the disaster confirms how his hatred for sharks began, and reveals his guilt at being one of the mere 316 sailors who survived the sinking of the cruiser. After the solemnity of Quint's story, the three men sing a rowdy sea shanty to lighten the mood, but are interrupted by the returning shark violently knocking into their boat, causing it to begin leaking. Quint rushes on deck and fires at the three telltale barrels, but the shark escapes once again.
The next day, the men attempt to repair the boat, with limited success. Seawater has contaminated the diesel fuel, and the thick clouds of black smoke belching from the ship's exhaust pipe are a sign of engine damage. When the shark returns, Quint, waiting and ready, instructs Hooper to grab the barrels with a hook and secure them to the stern. Hooper succeeds, and Quint attempts to drag the shark by powering the boat to full throttle, but the shark uses its immense strength to pull the boat in the opposite direction, nearly capsizing it and causing further structural damage before Quint cuts the ropes attached to the boat. The shark breaks free from the barrels and submerges again. Quint demonstrates the extent of his mad vengeance against sharks by destroying the radio which Brody was attempting to use to call for help. The shark begins to chase the boat, and Quint steers back toward land at full speed, dismissing Hooper's protests that he is overtaxing the already damaged engine. When the engine inevitably fails, the three men are trapped on a sinking boat with no means of propulsion and no radio. Quint offers life jackets to the other men, though he takes none for himself.
Running out of options, Hooper resorts to putting on his scuba gear and having Quint and Brody lower him into the water inside a shark cage, his aim being to inject the shark with poison using a harpoon syringe. The cage proves to be no match for the shark, who attacks Hooper with such ferocity that he drops the harpoon and is forced to hide in a reef while his cage is being destroyed. Brody and Quint haul up the remains of the shark cage, sans Hooper, and assume him to be dead. They barely have time to process the notion before the shark leaps from the water like a breaching whale and lands most of its body on the sinking stern of the boat. Quint and Brody hang on to the cabin for dear life as the boat is upended, the shark's gaping mouth at the bottom of the drop. Quint ultimately loses his grip and, despite Brody's endeavors to pull him to safety, slides into the mouth of the shark and is devoured. The shark slides back into the water with Quint's corpse in its mouth.
Horrified, and believing himself to be the only survivor of this seemingly doomed mission, Brody hastily enters the cabin of the rapidly sinking boat and finds one of Hooper's pressurized air tanks. The shark smashes through the side of the boat, mere feet away from Brody, whose attempts to drive it off by beating it with the tank result in the tank becoming lodged in the shark's mouth before the beast swims away again.
With little more than the boat's mast above water now, Brody climbs to the top of the mast with a rifle in his hand. Now possessing some of Quint's courage and madness, Brody begins to fire at the approaching shark, hoping to hit the air tank in its mouth. At last, Brody hits his mark. The tank explodes, taking the shark's head with it. Brody laughs as blood and shark flesh rain down around him into the sea.
Moments later, Hooper finally surfaces, alive and well. The two men celebrate the end of their adventure with a weak chuckle before assembling a makeshift raft and paddling back to Amity's shore.
List of deaths Edit
|Name||Cause of Death||Killer||On Screen||Notes|
|Chrissy "Christine" Watkins||Dragged around and eaten||Bruce (Shark)||Yes||While skinny dipping.|
|Pippet (Dog)||Eaten||Bruce (Shark)||No||Debatable?|
|Alex "Alexander" Kintner||Pulled from raft, and eaten||Bruce (Shark)||Yes|
|Benjamin "Ben" Gardner||Killed||Bruce (Shark)||No||Found dead.|
|Estuary Victim||Leg bitten off/Eaten alive||Bruce (Shark)||Partially|
|Quint||Eaten alive||Bruce (Shark)||Yes|
|Bruce (Shark)||Scuba tank placed in mouth, then shot with M1 Garand and blown up||Martin Brody||Yes|
- Roy Scheider — Chief Martin Brody
- Robert Shaw — Quint
- Richard Dreyfuss — Matt Hooper
- Lorraine Gary — Ellen Brody
- Murray Hamilton — Mayor Larry Vaughn
- Carl Gottlieb — Meadows
- Jeffrey Kramer — Deputy Lenny Hendricks
- Susan Backlinie — Chrissie Watkins
- Peter Benchley — Reporter
Richard D. Zanuck and David Brown, producers at Universal Pictures, independently heard about Peter Benchley's novel Jaws. Brown came across it in the literature section of lifestyle magazine Cosmopolitan, then edited by his wife, Helen Gurley Brown. A small card written by the magazine's book editor gave a detailed description of the plot, concluding with the comment "might make a good movie". The producers each read the book over the course of a single night and agreed the next morning that it was "the most exciting thing that they had ever read" and that they wanted to produce a film version, although they were unsure how it would be accomplished. They purchased the movie rights in 1973, before the book's publication, for approximately $175,000. Brown claimed that had they read the book twice, they would never have made the film because they would have realized how difficult it would be to execute certain sequences.
To direct, Zanuck and Brown first considered veteran filmmaker John Sturges—whose résumé included another maritime adventure, The Old Man and the Sea—before offering the job to Dick Richards, whose directorial debut, The Culpepper Cattle Co. had come out the previous year. However, they grew irritated by Richards's habit of describing the shark as a whale and soon dropped him from the project. Meanwhile, Steven Spielberg very much wanted the job. The 26-year-old had just directed his first theatrical film, The Sugarland Express, for Zanuck and Brown. At the end of a meeting in their office, Spielberg noticed their copy of the still-unpublished Benchley novel, and after reading it was immediately captivated. He later observed that it was similar to his 1971 television film Duel in that both deal with "these leviathans targeting everymen." After Richards's departure, the producers signed Spielberg to direct in June 1973, before the release of The Sugarland Express.
Before production began, however, Spielberg grew reluctant to continue with Jaws, in fear of becoming typecast as the "truck and shark director". He wanted to move over to 20th Century Fox's Lucky Lady instead, but Universal exercised its right under its contract with the director to veto his departure. Brown helped convince Spielberg to stick with the project, saying that "after [Jaws], you can make all the films you want". The film was given an estimated budget of $3.5 million and a shooting schedule of 55 days. Principal photography was set to begin in May 1974. Universal wanted the shoot to finish by the end of June, when the major studios' contract with the Screen Actors Guild was due to expire, to avoid any disruptions due to a potential strike.
For the screen adaptation, Spielberg wanted to stay with the novel's basic plot, while omitting Benchley's many subplots. He declared that his favorite part of the book was the shark hunt on the last 120 pages, and told Zanuck when he accepted the job, "I'd like to do the picture if I could change the first two acts and base the first two acts on original screenplay material, and then be very true to the book for the last third." When the producers purchased the rights to his novel, they promised Benchley that he could write the first draft of the screenplay. The intent was to make sure a script could be done despite an impending threat of a Writer’s Guild strike, given Benchley was not unionized. Overall, he wrote three drafts before the script was turned over to other writers; delivering his final version to Spielberg, he declared, "I'm written out on this, and that's the best I can do." Benchley would later describe his contribution to the finished film as "the storyline and the ocean stuff – basically, the mechanics", given he "didn’t know how to put the character texture into a screenplay." One of his changes was to remove the novel's adulterous affair between Ellen Brody and Matt Hooper, at the suggestion of Spielberg, who feared it would compromise the camaraderie between the men on the Orca. During the film's production, Benchley agreed to return and play a small onscreen role as a reporter.
Spielberg, who felt that the characters in Benchley's script were still unlikable, invited the young screenwriter John Byrum to do a rewrite, but he declined the offer. Columbo creators William Link and Richard Levinson also declined Spielberg's invitation. Tony and Pulitzer Prize–winning playwright Howard Sackler was in Los Angeles when the filmmakers began looking for another writer and offered to do an uncredited rewrite; since the producers and Spielberg were unhappy with Benchley's drafts, they quickly agreed. At the suggestion of Spielberg, Brody's characterization made him afraid of water, "coming from an urban jungle to find something more terrifying off this placid island near Massachusetts."
Spielberg wanted "some levity" in Jaws, humor that would avoid making it "a dark sea hunt," so he turned to his friend Carl Gottlieb, a comedy writer-actor then working on the sitcom The Odd Couple. Spielberg sent Gottlieb a script, asking what the writer would change and if there was a role he would be interested in performing. Gottlieb sent Spielberg three pages of notes, and picked the part of Meadows, the politically connected editor of the local paper. He passed the audition one week before Spielberg took him to meet the producers regarding a writing job.
While the deal was initially for a "one-week dialogue polish", Gottlieb eventually became the primary screenwriter, rewriting the entire script during a nine-week period of principal photography. The script for each scene was typically finished the night before it was shot, after Gottlieb had dinner with Spielberg and members of the cast and crew to decide what would go into the film. Many pieces of dialogue originated from the actors' improvisations during these meals; a few were created on set, most notably Roy Scheider's ad-lib of the line "You're gonna need a bigger boat." John Milius contributed dialogue polishes, and Sugarland Express writers Matthew Robbins and Hal Barwood also made uncredited contributions. Spielberg has claimed that he prepared his own draft, although it is unclear to what degree the other screenwriters drew on his material. One specific alteration he called for in the story was to change the cause of the shark's death from extensive wounds to a scuba tank explosion, as he felt audiences would respond better to a "big rousing ending." The director estimated the final script had a total of 27 scenes that were not in the book.
Benchley had written Jaws after reading about sport fisherman Frank Mundus's capture of an enormous shark in 1964. According to Gottlieb, Quint was loosely based on Mundus, whose book Sportfishing for Sharks he read for research. Sackler came up with the backstory of Quint as a survivor of the World War II USS Indianapolis disaster. The question of who deserves the most credit for writing Quint's monologue about the Indianapolis has caused substantial controversy. Spielberg described it as a collaboration between Sackler, Milius, and actor Robert Shaw, who was also a playwright. According to the director, Milius turned Sackler's "three-quarters of a page" speech into a monologue, and that was then rewritten by Shaw. Gottlieb gives primary credit to Shaw, downplaying Milius's contribution.
Principal photography began May 2, 1974, on the island of Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts, selected after consideration was given to eastern Long Island. Brown explained later that the production "needed a vacation area that was lower middle class enough so that an appearance of a shark would destroy the tourist business." Martha's Vineyard was also chosen because the surrounding ocean had a sandy bottom that never dropped below 35 feet (11 m) for 12 miles (19 km) out from shore, which allowed the mechanical sharks to operate while also beyond sight of land. As Spielberg wanted to film the aquatic sequences relatively close-up to resemble what people see while swimming, cinematographer Bill Butler devised new equipment to facilitate marine and underwater shooting, including a rig to keep the camera stable regardless of tide and a sealed submersible camera box. Spielberg asked the art department to avoid red in both scenery and wardrobe, so that the blood from the attacks would be the only red element and cause a bigger shock.
Three full-size pneumatically powered prop sharks—which the film crew nicknamed "Bruce" after Spielberg's lawyer, Bruce Ramer—were made for the production: a "sea-sled shark", a full-body prop with its belly missing that was towed with a 300-foot (roughly 100-m) line, and two "platform sharks", one that moved from camera-left to -right (with its hidden left side exposing an array of pneumatic hoses), and an opposite model with its right flank uncovered. The sharks were designed by art director Joe Alves during the third quarter of 1973. Between November 1973 and April 1974, the sharks were fabricated at Rolly Harper's Motion Picture & Equipment Rental in Sun Valley, California. Their construction involved a team of as many as 40 effects technicians, supervised by mechanical effects supervisor Bob Mattey, best known for creating the giant squid in 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. After the sharks were completed, they were trucked to the shooting location. In early July, the platform used to tow the two side-view sharks capsized as it was being lowered to the ocean floor, forcing a team of divers to retrieve it. The model required 14 operators to control all of the moving parts.
The film had a troubled shoot and went far over budget. David Brown said that the budget "was $4 million and the picture wound up costing $9 million"; the effects outlays alone grew to $3 million due to the problems with the mechanical sharks. Disgruntled crew members gave the film the nickname "Flaws". Spielberg attributed many problems to his perfectionism and his inexperience. The former was epitomized by his insistence on shooting at sea with a life-sized shark; "I could have shot the movie in the tank or even in a protected lake somewhere, but it would not have looked the same," he said. As for his lack of experience: "I was naive about the ocean, basically. I was pretty naive about mother nature and the hubris of a filmmaker who thinks he can conquer the elements was foolhardy, but I was too young to know I was being foolhardy when I demanded that we shoot the film in the Atlantic Ocean and not in a North Hollywood tank." Gottlieb said that "there was nothing to do except make the movie", so everyone kept overworking, and while as a writer he did not have to attend the ocean set every day, once the crewmen returned they arrived "ravaged and sunburnt, windblown and covered with salt water".
Shooting at sea led to many delays: unwanted sailboats drifted into frame, cameras got soaked, and the Orca once began to sink with the actors on board. The prop sharks frequently malfunctioned owing to a series of problems including bad weather, pneumatic hoses taking on salt water, frames fracturing due to water resistance, corroding skin, and electrolysis. From the first water test onward, the "non-absorbent" neoprene foam that made up the sharks' skin soaked up liquid, causing the sharks to balloon, and the sea-sled model frequently got entangled among forests of seaweed. Spielberg later calculated that during the 12-hour daily work schedule, on average only four hours were actually spent filming. Gottlieb was nearly decapitated by the boat's propellers, and Dreyfuss was almost imprisoned in the steel cage. The actors were frequently seasick. Shaw also fled to Canada whenever he could due to tax problems, engaged in binge drinking, and developed a grudge against Dreyfuss, who was getting rave reviews for his performance in Duddy Kravitz. Editor Verna Fields rarely had material to work with during principal photography, as according to Spielberg "we would shoot five scenes in a good day, three in an average day, and none in a bad day."
The delays proved serendipitous in some regards. The script was refined during production, and the unreliable mechanical sharks forced Spielberg to shoot many scenes so that the shark was only hinted at. For example, for much of the shark hunt, its location is indicated by the floating yellow barrels. The opening had the shark devouring Chrissie, but it was rewritten so that it would be shot with Backlinie being dragged and yanked by cables to simulate an attack. Spielberg also included multiple shots of just the dorsal fin. This forced restraint is widely thought to have added to the film's suspense. As Spielberg put it years later, "The film went from a Japanese Saturday matinee horror flick to more of a Hitchcock, the less-you-see-the-more-you-get thriller." In another interview, he similarly declared, "The shark not working was a godsend. It made me become more like Alfred Hitchcock than like Ray Harryhausen." The acting became crucial for making audiences believe in such a big shark: "The more fake the shark looked in the water, the more my anxiety told me to heighten the naturalism of the performances."
Footage of real sharks was shot by Ron and Valerie Taylor in the waters off Australia, with a smaller-framed actor in a miniature shark cage to create the illusion that the sharks were enormous. During the Taylors' shoot, a great white attacked the boat and cage. The footage of the cage attack was so stunning that Spielberg was eager to incorporate it in the film. No one had been in the cage at the time, however, and the script, following the novel, originally had the shark killing Hooper in it. The storyline was consequently altered to have Hooper escape from the cage, which allowed the footage to be used. As production executive Bill Gilmore put it, "The shark down in Australia rewrote the script and saved Dreyfuss's character."
Although principal photography was scheduled to take 55 days, it did not wrap until October 6, 1974, after 159 days. Spielberg, reflecting on the protracted shoot, stated, "I thought my career as a filmmaker was over. I heard rumors ... that I would never work again because no one had ever taken a film 100 days over schedule." Spielberg himself was not present for the shooting of the final scene in which the shark explodes, as he believed that the crew were planning to throw him in the water when the scene was done. It has since become a tradition for Spielberg to be absent when the final scene of one of his films is being shot.Afterward, underwater scenes were shot at the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer water tank in Culver City, with stuntmen Dick Warlock and Frank James Sparks as stand-ins for Dreyfuss in the scene where the shark attacks the cage, as well as near Santa Catalina Island, California. Fields, who had completed a rough cut of the first two-thirds of the film, up until the shark hunt, finished the editing and reworked some of the material. According to Zanuck, "She actually came in and reconstructed some scenes that Steven had constructed for comedy and made them terrifying, and some scenes he shot to be terrifying and made them comedy scenes." The ship used for the Orca was brought to Los Angeles so the sound effects team could record sounds for both the ship and the underwater scenes.
Two scenes were altered following test screenings. As the audience's screams had covered up Scheider's "bigger boat" one-liner, Brody's reaction after the shark jumps behind him was extended, and the volume of the line was raised. Spielberg also decided that he was greedy for "one more scream", and reshot the scene in which Hooper discovers Ben Gardner's body, using $3,000 of his own money after Universal refused to pay for the reshoot. The underwater scene was shot in Fields's swimming pool in Encino, California, using a lifecast latex model of Craig Kingsbury's head attached to a fake body, which was placed in the wrecked boat's hull. To simulate the murky waters of Martha's Vineyard, powdered milk was poured into the pool, which was then covered with tarpaulin.
Box office performance Edit
Jaws opened with a $7 million weekend and recouped its production costs in two weeks. In just 78 days, it overtook The Godfather as the highest-grossing film at the North American box office, sailing past that picture's earnings of $86 million to become the first film to reach $100 million in rentals. Its initial release ultimately brought in $123.1 million in rentals. Theatrical re-releases in 1976 and 1979 brought its total rentals to $133.4 million. The picture entered overseas release in December 1975, and its international business mirrored its domestic performance. It broke records in Singapore, New Zealand, Japan, Spain, and Mexico. By 1977, Jaws was the highest-grossing international release with worldwide rentals of $193 million, equating to about $400 million of gross revenue; it supplanted The Godfather, which had earned $145 million in rentals.
Jaws was the highest-grossing film of all time until Star Wars, which debuted two years later. Star Wars surpassed Jaws for the U.S. record six months after its release and set a new global record in 1978. As of June 2013, it is the 127th-highest-grossing film of all time with $470.7 million worldwide, and the 66th highest domestically with a total North American gross of $260 million. Adjusted for inflation, Jaws has earned almost $2 billion worldwide at 2011 prices and is the second most successful franchise film after Star Wars. In North America, it is the seventh-highest-grossing movie of all time, with a total of $1.017 billion at current prices, based on an estimated 128,078,800 tickets sold. In the United Kingdom, it is the seventh-highest-grossing film to be released since 1975, earning the equivalent of over £70 million in 2009/10 currency, with admissions estimated at 16.2 million. Jaws has also sold 13 million tickets in Brazil, the second-highest attendance ever in the country behind Titanic.
On television, the American Broadcasting Company aired it for the first time right after its 1979 re-release. The first U.S. broadcast attracted 57 percent of the total audience, the second highest televised movie share at the time behind Gone with the Wind. In the United Kingdom, 23 million people watched its inaugural broadcast in October 1981, the second biggest TV audience ever for a feature film behind Live and Let Die.
Critical response Edit
Jaws received mostly positive reviews upon release. Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times called it "a sensationally effective action picture, a scary thriller that works all the better because it's populated with characters that have been developed into human beings". Variety 's A.D. Murphy praised Spielberg's directorial skills and called Robert Shaw's performance "absolutely magnificent". According to The New Yorker 's Pauline Kael, it was "the most cheerfully perverse scare movie ever made ... [with] more zest than an early Woody Allen picture, a lot more electricity, [and] it's funny in a Woody Allen sort of way". For New Times magazine, Frank Rich wrote, "Spielberg is blessed with a talent that is absurdly absent from most American filmmakers these days: this man actually knows how to tell a story on screen. ... It speaks well of this director's gifts that some of the most frightening sequences in Jaws are those where we don't even see the shark." Writing for New York magazine, Judith Crist described the film as "an exhilarating adventure entertainment of the highest order" and complimented its acting and "extraordinary technical achievements". Rex Reed praised the "nerve-frying" action scenes and concluded that "for the most part, Jaws is a gripping horror film that works beautifully in every department".
The film was not without its detractors. Vincent Canby of The New York Times wrote, "It's a measure of how the film operates that not once do we feel particular sympathy for any of the shark's victims. ... In the best films, characters are revealed in terms of the action. In movies like Jaws, characters are simply functions of the action ... like stage hands who move props around and deliver information when it's necessary". He did, however, describe it as "the sort of nonsense that can be a good deal of fun". Los Angeles Times critic Charles Champlin disagreed with the film's PG rating, saying that "Jaws is too gruesome for children, and likely to turn the stomach of the impressionable at any age. ... It is a coarse-grained and exploitative work which depends on excess for its impact. Ashore it is a bore, awkwardly staged and lumpily written." Marcia Magill of Films in Review said that while Jaws "is eminently worth seeing for its second half", she felt that before the protagonists' pursuit of the shark the film was "often flawed by its busyness". William S. Pechter of Commentary described Jaws as "a mind-numbing repast for sense-sated gluttons" and "filmmaking of this essentially manipulative sort"; Molly Haskell of The Village Voice similarly characterized it as a "scare machine that works with computer-like precision. ... You feel like a rat, being given shock therapy". The most frequently criticized aspect of the film has been the artificiality of its mechanical antagonist: Magill declared that "the programmed shark has one truly phony close-up", and in 2002, online reviewer James Berardinelli said that if not for Spielberg's deftly suspenseful direction, "we would be doubled over with laughter at the cheesiness of the animatronic creature." Halliwell's Film Guide claimed "despite genuinely suspenseful and frightening sequences, it is a slackly narrated and sometimes flatly handled thriller with an over-abundance of dialogue and, when it finally appears, a pretty unconvincing monster."
Jaws won three Academy Awards for Best Film Editing, Best Original Dramatic Score, and Best Sound (Robert Hoyt, Roger Heman, Earl Madery and John Carter). It was also nominated for Best Picture, losing to One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. Spielberg greatly resented the fact that he was not nominated for Best Director. Along with the Oscar, John Williams's score won the Grammy Award, the BAFTA Award for Best Film Music, and the Golden Globe Award. To her Academy Award, Verna Fields added the American Cinema Editors' Eddie Award for Best Edited Feature Film. Jaws was chosen Favorite Movie at the People's Choice Awards. It was also nominated for best Film, Director, Actor (Richard Dreyfuss), Editing, and Sound at the 29th British Academy Film Awards, and Best Film—Drama, Director, and Screenplay at the 33rd Golden Globe Awards. Spielberg was nominated by the Directors Guild of America for a DGA Award, and the Writers Guild of America nominated Peter Benchley and Carl Gottlieb's script for Best Adapted Drama.
In the years since its release, Jaws has frequently been cited by film critics and industry professionals as one of the greatest movies of all time. It was number 48 on American Film Institute's 100 Years... 100 Movies, a list of the greatest American films of all time compiled in 1998; it dropped to number 56 on the 10 Year Anniversary list. AFI also ranked the shark at number 18 on its list of the 50 Best Villains, Roy Scheider's line "You're gonna need a bigger boat" 35th on a list of top 100 movie quotes, Williams's score at sixth on a list of 100 Years of Film Scores, and the film as second on a list of 100 most thrilling films, behind only Psycho. In 2003, The New York Times included the film on its list of the best 1,000 movies ever made. The following year, Jaws placed at the top of the Bravo network's five-hour miniseries The 100 Scariest Movie Moments. The Chicago Film Critics Association named it the sixth scariest film ever made in 2006. In 2008, Jaws was ranked the fifth greatest film in history by Empire magazine, which also placed Quint at number 50 on its list of the 100 Greatest Movie Characters of All Time. The film has been cited in many other lists of 50 and 100 greatest films, including ones compiled by Leonard Maltin, Entertainment Weekly, Film4, Rolling Stone, Total Film, TV Guide, and Vanity Fair. In 2001, the United States Library of Congress selected it for preservation in the National Film Registry as a "culturally significant" motion picture. In 2006, its screenplay was ranked the 63rd best of all time by the Writers Guild of America.
Clips (in chronological order)Edit
- Jaws (film) at the Internet Movie Database
- Jaws (film) at AllMovie
- Jaws (film) at Rotten Tomatoes
- Jaws (film) at Wikipedia
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