For most of us cinephiles, we remember the first time we saw a movie, whether it be in the theater, or at home. If the film shakes you, positively or negatively, there’s a residue left that creeps into your memory and makes it challenging to let go. Well, I don’t want to- so I’m going to highlight some Kristy horror history for this wonderful, special, month of October.
I would be filled with unimaginable regret if I did not touch upon one of the best blockbuster horrors ever made, even if we are officially out of Summer (and this oozes that Summer feel). A film that takes the question of “can you make a nearly perfect film?” And answers it, with a resounding yes, through pointy white teeth.
Like so many others I have highlighted and will continue to do this month, Jaws was an early entry for me. In my household, this is a movie that was seen young, often, and prolonged through quoting and impressions throughout the years. It’s a film that I resonated with, that made me appreciate this spectacle of movie-making, as I first heard the slow build up of John William’s score, and saw the fin racing through the water. It is for this reason that I had to talk a bit about the classic that is Jaws. How do I love thee, let me count the ways:
“Lifeless eyes, Black Eyes, like a Doll’s Eyes.”
Jaws really did scare people out of the water, and provided one of the most iconic killers in film that decades later is still making a splash.
When a great white shark terrorizes the small island town of Amity, sheriff Brody (Roy Scheider), fisherman Quint (Robert Shaw), and Marine Biologist Hooper (Richard Dreyfuss) make up the unexpected trio tasked with hunting it down.
Steven Spielberg has made a lot of terrific films; he’s a sincere, meticulous master of the craft. Over the years, I have found myself returning to this one as a comfort watch. The effects, and the camera magic that went into making this seem real, were exceptional.
The pacing of the film never wavers, each scene is filmed and cut to perfection, with a script that ensures the tension never fades as the stakes continue to rise. Even in the moments where it lets its guard down, the characters keep it level. The three main characters bonding and humorful banter, as well as Brody’s relationship with wife Ellen (Lorraine Gary) provide a feeling of family and camaraderie to the picture.
Jaws also serves as a cautionary tale/wake up/allegory for handling a crisis and public safety, when the local mayor’s own greed is blinded by the risks of keeping the beaches open. Despite the terrifying conceit, and the humor that keeps the boat afloat, there’s an intelligence displayed throughout that makes it more than your normal blockbuster.
It’s immortalized for good reason. Between the thematic score, that is instantly recognizable, its perfect cast, and gut-punch of a thrill, Jaws is still very much alive.
Come for the shark, stay for the characters.