Does ' Jaws ' Still Have A Bite ?

Discussion in 'Visual Arts' started by Wildest cat from montana, Oct 6, 2019.

  1. jojopuppyfish

    jojopuppyfish Forum Resident

  2. Witchy Woman

    Witchy Woman Forum Resident

    Third Coast, USA
    My tween/teen sons were not impressed by the movie when they saw it for the 1st time over a year ago, which is a completely different reaction than I had seeing it for the first time around the age of 9. I loved it and thought it was thrilling and scary. There were some light-hearted moments but it certainly wasn’t a comedy.

    Something to point out is that there wasn’t much knowledge about sharks among the general public when the movie was released, so the shark’s behavior and actions seemed plausible. Not wanting to get in the water to go swimming became a real thing. In the aftermath of the movie’s success, interest in sharks spiked. There was an increase in research and the number of published studies as well as, unfortunately, hunting of sharks due to some of the misperceptions introduced by the film. I recall reading that Spielberg expressed regret about those misperceptions.

    Since then, sharks have had a ton of exposure in movies and on TV, even having their own week on the Discovery Channel. Whenever there are more than a couple circling around near a shoreline, it makes national news. They have become a part of eco-tourism, even. There is more knowledge and awareness of them than ever before. They are no longer the mysterious strange creatures of the deep that they were in the pre-Jaws era.
  3. Oatsdad

    Oatsdad Oat, Biscuits and Abbie: Best Dogs Ever

    Alexandria VA
  4. dprokopy

    dprokopy Forum Resident

    Near Seattle, WA
    I had the pleasure of seeing the (I presume) most recent restoration on the big screen (Seattle's Cinerama), after not having seen it in several years, and I was really surprised how well it held up. Certainly it's not as gory and fast-paced as I'm sure most modern filmgoers are used to, but it's still an incredibly well-made picture, given the circumstances surrounding its production.
  5. joannenugent

    joannenugent Forum Resident

    East Coast USA
    Oh gosh, I don’t think there is any argument as to how Jaws was received in 1975 - the film is a legend!

    As to if the film has any “bite” today, I think suspense and comedy can be very closely linked. That is to say when a film attempts to shock, but for whatever reason misses the mark with the viewer, it tends to come off as silly.

    For example, looking at reviews for the original 1963 release of Hitchcock’s “The Birds”, we find that The New York Times called it “a horror film that should raise the hackles on the most courageous and put goose-pimples on the toughest hide." Meanwhile The Washington Post called it “gorgeous good fun" and after comparing it to the comedy film The Trouble With Harry, concluded “I haven't had this kind of silly merriment since King Kong toppled from the Empire State Building." And that is just comparing opinions from the same week - let alone opinions from the day and some odd 45 years later!

    Anyway, as to some of the specific scenes you mentioned:

    Regard scene 1) This scene had the most potential. It is night time. The girl is comfortable in her own element and totally oblivious as to the danger. It is the perfect setup. But what ruins it is specifically that she is dragged back and forth! If the scene had been a shot of her going straight down in a split second with no warning - or with maybe a single scream and a bubble rising up out of the water as she grasps for the surface with an outstretched hand - it might be rather terrifying. But instead we get an absolutely ridiculous scene of the girl being dragged several dozen feet back and forth latterly across the ocean, getting a momentary rest on a buoy and looking totally confused, and then being dragged back and forth again, all the while flailing about screaming.....I definitely burst out laughing during this scene and it was one of the most memorable and silly parts for me. I mean seriously, what on earth could that shark possibly be doing that she is being dragged horizontally, back and forth across the ocean surface (I cannot even explain the physics of that). And how is she so confused on the bouy - does she not notice there is a giant shark bite in her or what!? Hahaha

    Regarding scene 2) the geyser of blood is what made it funny. I am not saying it is the quality of the special effects, but just the idea that there would be a geyser of blood. So goofy.

    Regarding scene 3) OK, ya that part was a little spooky. But then it turns a bit silly when you get the guys shocked expression after the climatic musical moment. Like you have the shocked music and the guy pulls away. And then after the moment of horror for the audience you have the following scene where he suddenly realized what he is looking at along with another round of scary music. The timing of the divers scared reaction, coming so long after the audiences scared reaction, makes the diver seem kind of slow and dopey - and hence silly.

    Regarding scene 4) I actually don’t remember this I cannot comment.

    As for the zoom shot of Roy Scheider during the get out of the water scene, I agree that was very well done and an absolute classic. As you said though, it has been used quite a lot since. Heck even the 1994 animated Lion King by Disney used that effect before the wildebeast stampede. So maybe for a first time viewer today, the effect in Jaws has lost some of its impact, just because it has become so standard film.

    It is worth remembering though, that I was an adult when I saw this that in itself is a completely different story from a 9-11 year old seeing the film for the first time today.

    Lastly, I think Witchy Women also makes a good point above, in that there is so much exposure to the “real world” of sharks today, a lot of the mystery aspect just isn’t there.
    Last edited: Oct 8, 2019
  6. Ghostworld

    Ghostworld Forum Resident


    don’t forget the leg in “the pond.”
    Vidiot likes this.
  7. HenryH

    HenryH Forum Resident

    I watched it again on Blu-ray fairly recently (saw it originally at the theater when it was initially released).

    Yeah, still a very good movie. Of course, you don't get the same level of suspense and jump factor if you've already seen it, but it's definitely still entertaining.
    The humor works quite well against the more dramatic moments, and I think that was one of the key elements to enjoying it. The film may not be as slick as more modern movies, and it's not full of silly quips and snark that seems to entertain today's audiences, yet it's still a classic.
  8. inperson

    inperson Forum Resident

    Yes, it does. The movie, to me, is about the characters not the action.
  9. GregM

    GregM Ready to cross that fine line

    Daddyland, CA
    Your sense of humor and knowledge of shark behavior are quite a bit different than mine. I would never in a million years burst out laughing at this scene, and no one else who I've enjoyed the film with did either. Have you seen the Planet Earth documentary episode filmed off the coast of South Africa, where enormous great whites are feeding on seals? The behavior is far more perplexing than this. You see a seal pup literally bouncing around off the teeth of a shark, and managing to escape, at least for a time. There is a lot of latitude in the behavior of prey and predators, and frankly humans and sharks can swap roles here so I don't think it is beyond the realm of realism that a human may manage to elude being brought straight down by a shark, particularly since the trajectory of the shark would logically be such that the inertia carries both of them up if it swam from deeper water or as shown side-to-side if it swam along the surface. Vertebrate behavior is quite confounding. I'm by no means an expert in sharks/skates/rays but I did research at Scripps Institution of Oceanography in a former life.

    Again, your sense of humor and knowledge of blood spatter are perplexing to me, and again I claim no expertise, but it seems humans have a certain blood pressure in our vascular system, which, if ripped open by a certain force (e.g., exerted by a large marine vertebrate weighing as Quint estimated 2000 lbs) and emptying into thin air with a different pressure could indeed result in a geyser of blood. Even if it doesn't seem realistic to you, it seems rather sadistic to start laughing about it, no?

    Shock manifests in different ways, that I guess can seem silly but given the gravity of the situation portrayed I think it's well within the realm of horrific.

    Unless you spend a lot of time under water, it still is very mysterious and unknown. Those of us who have been scuba diving marvel at the otherworldly characteristics of the ocean that make it seem like a totally different planet than our familiar environment on land. Also, Benchley/Spielberg were able to have it both ways by including a scientist character to counterbalance the less educated but vastly more experienced fisherman and the law enforcement protagonist.
  10. Wildest cat from montana

    Wildest cat from montana Humble Reader Thread Starter

    " Shark! Shark! Shark in the pond !"
    Ghostworld and twicks like this.
  11. Chris C

    Chris C Music was my first love and it will be my last!

    Yeah, "JAWS" still has bite ...

  12. carrick doone

    carrick doone Whhhuuuutttt????

    Vancouver, Canada
    I watched it over the summer - first time since the 70s. Yes, it still has bite. It's a really good 70s movie with good suspense, some "scare you" moments and enough action plus plenty of character development and plot.
  13. joannenugent

    joannenugent Forum Resident

    East Coast USA
    Hahahaha oh my - when you put it that way.......

    I don’t know, there is a certain level of detachment when watching summer blockbusters. I certainly remember seeing Jurassic Park opening weekend in theaters and the whole audience cheered or clapped when the T-rex got his first “victim”. I also remember quite a few giggles from the audience when seeing Independence Day in theaters and the alien ship opened fire on the rooftop welcomers. Also, just reading through this thread, there is at least one other post from someone who showed Jaws to their kids and heard mostly giggles. Or maybe it is just me and I have an offbeat sense of humor, I don’t know hahaha

    But for the record, I never said I laughed during the blood geyser. I said it felt silly/goofy, as in the idea of a blood geyser just felt corny rather than scary. And I think that is the point I have been trying to make. Jaws feels much more like Jurassic Park or Independence Day, to me, than to say a suspense/thrasher such as Hitchcock’s Psycho. But if Jaws comes across as being suspenseful to someone, I can certainly see my laughter during Chrissie‘s swimming scene coming off as odd. I would find someone laughing during the shower scene in Psycho as slightly offbeat....

    As for any special experience/background/insight I may have into sharks or the mechanics of blood geysers: I have none! I have, indeed, seen that episode of Planet Earth and I have been diving a few times and I have been lucky enough to have touched small sharks in the ocean...but I am not convinced those experiences are colouring my opinion of the film that much. I think my reaction is impacted more by modern sensibilities (or at least the sensibilities of my social/peer group)....Which I think is the relevant way to discuss the scenes, since most the entire audience watching Jaws (either today or 45 years ago) is going to have very little first hand experience with either sharks or severed limbs (at least I would hope), so any reaction is going to be mostly based on their cultural sensibilities and world view.
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2019
  14. smilin ed

    smilin ed Forum Resident

    No. It's still very effective and it's wonderful to see a cast (and extras) who look normal and not like they're pimping themselves for a reality TV show.
  15. Chad75

    Chad75 Forum Resident

    Yeah that ET Atari game was lame.:laugh:
  16. Pizza

    Pizza With extra pepperoni

    Greatest adventure movie ever, at least for me. It rightly put Spielberg on the map as well as the stars not to mention John Williams. It created the summer blockbuster and changed how Hollywood released movies. Not a wasted minute. Hopefully it will get the 4K treatment. :agree:
  17. All Down The Line

    All Down The Line Forum Resident

    Dunno looks a bit rubbery to me.
  18. vegafleet

    vegafleet Forum Resident

    Seeing the movie in a theater packed with people seeing it for the first time on its first run was an amazing experience. Same with The Exorcist, which people nowadays also dont find scary anymore. But as a teen these movies literally paralyzed me in the theater. The experience just can't be repeated.

    I do have a big issue with Hooper not dying in the movie, that would have put the movie squarely in the horror camp. In the book only Brody survives. Never liked the tank ending of the movie.

    I liked The Shallows a lot.

    There are also a couple of excellent books about the early 20th century shark attacks in NY ( the town of Matewan?) that are very good. That real life shark swimming upriver to kill a kid, now that is a horror story!
  19. Witchy Woman

    Witchy Woman Forum Resident

    Third Coast, USA
    Thank you!
  20. Oatsdad

    Oatsdad Oat, Biscuits and Abbie: Best Dogs Ever

    Alexandria VA
    I think "geyser" overstates the amount of blood.

    Is it a lot? Sure.

    Is it unrealistic? I dunno - I never saw a massive shark eat a kid in real life.

    Geyser? Seems like an exaggeration:

    P(orF) likes this.
  21. Oatsdad

    Oatsdad Oat, Biscuits and Abbie: Best Dogs Ever

    Alexandria VA
    I suspect Williams became known to the general public after "Jaws", but he was already very successful as a film composer. He had 10 Oscar noms - and 1 win - under his belt before "Jaws"!

    I'm not especially sure "Jaws" did that much for the careers of the 3 leads. All were already known quantities - they probably got a modest bump but "Jaws" didn't make stars out of any of them.

    Spielberg, on the other hand, went from relative obscurity to famous overnight!
  22. Manapua

    Manapua Forum Resident

    Exactly! Today's generation isn't used to real character development. The usual gripe is it's too slow. It has to be explosions, gore and minute by minute mayhem. The beat goes on.
  23. Pizza

    Pizza With extra pepperoni

    I guess we’ll have to agree to disagree. Of course everyone in Jaws had a career before appearing in the flick, including Spielberg. But a simple visit to the IMDB shows Richard Dreyfus became a leading A-lister after Jaws. Roy Schneider rose to lead status and became a bit of an action star and briefly an A-lister himself for a few years. Robert Shaw had a solid resume but he got some nice lead roles instead of secondary parts after fighting with the shark.

    And John Williams had great career before Jaws but the film brought a shiny light to him (at least for me) though Star Wars truly made him a household name.
  24. Manapua

    Manapua Forum Resident

    Again, exactly! Jaws was the first real summer blockbuster and it was that kind of exposure that propelled those actors, particularly Dreyfuss, to the next level.
  25. Solaris

    Solaris a bullet in flight

    New Orleans, LA
    Just want to pop in here to encourage anyone with an interest in filmmaking to go back and watch Jaws for how Spielberg uses the camera, both stationary and in motion, and how he composes and blocks his shots. There's a lot of classic film craft in that movie, and I think it's worth paying attention to.

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