Jaws, the classic 1975 thriller, was among the first in a list of films that have gone down to become Steven Speilberg’s great works in his legendary cinematic career. 45 years later, it continues to be an entertaining, edge-of-your-seat, summer film with an exaggerated thrill that Spielberg ignites by tickling primal human feelings of fear. Today, the film’s age has brought with it a certain light to the suspenseful dramatics Spielberg once used to play up the horror genre. As the camera pans under the surface of the water and those notoriously menacing ‘buuuh dum’s of the music speed up, the modern viewer knows just what they’re in for.
The early Speilberg original works perhaps because it plays around with something that is seemingly so blissful. It is July on ‘Amity Island’ where tourists flock to dive in the ocean and celebrate summer. Spielberg opens on a group of young people playing music and partying around a warm beach bonfire. Cassidy’s eyes meet Crissie’s and the two frolic off through the dusk sky. Cassidy calls out, “Where are we going?!”, to which Crissie gleefully responds, “Swimming!” Sound pleasant? Well enjoy, because just after those first few minutes, it’s safe to say that things on Amity Island take a very dark turn. What follows is the kinds of scenes where you at once cover your eyes… and can’t look away.
Taking a ‘Jaws’ rewind this summer is to perhaps urgently watch the protagonist, Chief Brody, fight against the town’s booming tourist economy and cash-hungry government official to save more victims from a shark that seems to grow continuously hungrier. And in the film’s latter half, it is the seemingly never-ending battle of man versus a relentless force of nature. All the while, in the context of 2020, Speilberg’s 1975 classic is certain to continue igniting that adrenaline rush that keeps us coming back.