I’ve been posting about the 35th anniversary of The Shining over the last several weeks, but I thought it might be better to wait until it was officially summertime to post about the 40th anniversary of Jaws. The summer movie as we know it today didn’t exist until Jaws devoured box offices all summer long in 1975. Along with Star Wars‘ release in 1977, the pair of films changed the entire calendar of film releasing, created the template for the modern blockbuster and put an end to the New Hollywood movement that made both of the movies possible in the first place.
Besides the game-changing industry impact of Jaws, the story of the making of the film was nearly as treacherous, desperate and paranoia-inducing as the plot of the film. From shooting on the open ocean, to the doubts about an inexperienced director in Steven Spielberg to the malfunctioning mechanical monster, it’s a wonder the movie even made it to the screen. Of course, it’s also become an American cinema classic.
Like Spielberg’s best films, Jaws is a genre potboiler, raised to the level of art: It features an ensemble cast of diverse believable characters inhabiting an airtight script that balances humor, thrills, chills and bloody gore into a monster movie that’s among the best ever made. The soundtrack is iconic and the point-of-view shark attacks are still enough to scare swimmers summer after summer for four decades, and Robert Shaw’s soliloquy about the sinking of the Indianapolis might be the best performance in any Spielberg film.
Here’s one of the best documentaries about the film. This might not be my last post about Jaws, but I hope you enjoy this first flashback to that scary summer of 1975…