SparkNotes Movie Club Presents: Jaws
These are the universal truths of the universe:
1. Pie tastes better the next day.
2. Broken glass is not a toy.
3. If two bodies are in thermal equilibrium with a third body, then the two bodies are in thermal equilibrium with each other.
4. Jaws is one of the greatest movies of all time.
5. Shoes make walking less dangerous.
Jaws is the perfect summer movie, which is why we’re demanding that you watch it for this month’s Movie Club. Over the next few weeks, find a copy and watch the hell out of it. You can also watch along with me as I live-blog the film on Facebook next Thursday. (When I try to do it on Twitter and Facebook, it doesn’t sync up correctly. Plus, on Facebook you can easily yell at me for being wrong and ugly.) If you or your parents are Netflix subscribers, you can stream the movie on your computer, video game machine unit, or any other Netflix capable device. I've watch Netflix movies on a tricked-out hairdryer I rigged using some wires and magic cotton.
This may sound like hyperbole, but Jaws is so amazing and fantastic that when you watch it, you will have out-of-body experience and two hours later you’ll find yourself in standing in front of the TV whispering, “Again. I want to see it again. Make it happen again.”
What makes Jaws so good? To start with, the premise is pure gold. Most people have been to the beach. Some of you may be at the beach right now. (If you are, watch your towel, because the kid to your left is going to do something gross on it soon.) And we’ve all thought about the big bad nasty creatures lurking just off the shoreline. Also, sharks exist. This isn't like an alien, vampire, or evil Uncle Sam. We can relate to this story more than we can relate to Saw 5, because while many of us have woken up in a warehouse wearing metal torture collars in a room with four other strangers, it’s really not that scary. In fact, those collars feel pretty good, like getting a massage. This is why Saw 5 never felt real. But Jaws could happen, man. This is no joke.
Some of you may be screaming, “I hate horror movies! They give me nightmares and remind me of my mortality!” Fair enough. But Jaws isn’t your typical horror flick. It’s a thrilling adventure movie. Sure, there are some scares in the first half of the movie, and the finale is gruesome, but once the guys are on board the Orca fishing ship, the story is about the quest, not about making you dive under your seat for protection. And for all the notoriety, there isn’t that much blood in this film. It’s rated PG, for crying out loud. You know what else is rated PG? Flicka. And at least Jaws doesn’t sound like a Ke$ha cover band or an amateur rapper. So stop being a baby and watch Jaws.
It’s a modern-day classic of cinema. The American Film Institute not only named the shark the 18th best movie villain, but the movie itself was voted the second best thriller of all time, behind Psycho. This was Steven Spielberg’s first feature film, and the movie that helped define the term "blockbuster." Sure, there were big movies before Jaws, event pictures like The Wizard of Oz and Gone with the Wind, but no one expected a movie about a killer shark to dominate the box office of 1975. That year, Jaws was everywhere, from T-shirts to the cover of Time magazine. It was even nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture (it lost out to One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest). And like a fine wine or mold specimen, it’s only gotten better with age.
See folks, it’s more than just a scary movie. It’s the best thing you can do with your eyes and ears. Need more reasons to watch Jaws? Here’s what we love about this movie. (Spoiler-free)
1. The lack of shark.
Not since Waiting for Godot has a titular character been so absent from a story. (BTW: If you get the Waiting for Godot joke, give yourself some extra credit points on us.) While making the film, technical problems with the robotic shark prevented Spielberg from using it too often. The result is a shark movie with only about five minutes of shark footage. But you don’t need to see the shark. The tension is built around music, camera angles, and the lapping waves…and my older brother who kept sneaking up behind me during the movie and flicking my ear.
2. The music.
This is the first collaboration between John “Star Wars” Williams and Steven “Catch Me if You Can” Spielberg. Legend has that upon hearing Williams’ minimalist score, Spielberg said, “That’s funny, John. But what did you really have in mind for the theme?” And then Williams said, “Can you please be more Steven Spielberg, and less Steven Spiel-turd?” (That last part didn’t happen…probably.)
3. Quint, the boat captain.
Tough. Crusty. And the only one who can take care of this shark problem. If you told me he was Emmett Cullen’s grandfather, I just might believe you.
4. The reason Quint won’t wear a life jacket.
It’s sad, tragic story that hits you in the gut like a bullet made of misery.
The scrappy marine biology nerd talks back to Quint, and that’s reason enough to love him. Plus his knit cap is cool. And he brings his own cage.
6. Chief Brody.
The poor guy is trying to do the right thing. And he has the great line, "That's some bad hat, Harry."
7. The dialogue.
There are too many great lines to list here, but anything Quint says is worthy of note. Such as, “Y'all know me. Know how I earn a livin'. I'll catch this bird for you, but it ain't gonna be easy. Bad fish.” Quint-talk beats pirate-talk any day.
8. The deleted scene.
In this scene, which was cut from the film but sometimes shows up in the televised version, we see Quint buying piano wire and taunting a clarinet player. Gotta love Quint.
9. Did I mention Quint?
10. It was made using a freaking ROBOTIC SHARK!!!
My editor said I had to stop talking about Jaws. Originally this post was 6,800 words long and included an entire section in which I explain how the scene of Quint turning to Hooper for help is really about tradition giving way to technology and science, and how Jaws isn’t about a shark at all. It’s about truth, globalization, and the “severed leg” of injustice.
So watch Jaws. I will not talk to you until you watch the movie. Better yet, watch along with me over on Facebook next Thursday, July 22th at 8:00 p.m. (EST), where I’ll be making dumb comments and covering my eyes at the bad parts. Then we’ll post a discussion article where everyone can shout and yell, “Jaws is amazing and the best thing to happen to my ears and eyes. Thank you, SparkNotes, for showing me what it means to be alive!”
Because Jaws is just that good.
Will you watch?
Related post: SparkNotes Movie Club Discussion: The Notebook