Length: 124 minutes / 2.07 hours
Back when I first saw this film as a child, it scared me quite a bit. Later, when I watched it again for the first time in a while, it didn’t scare me as much, but it certainly was thrilling. Now, having read the book it was based on, I have a fuller and more in-depth understanding and appreciation of all sides of this classic story. With the knowledge of what was missing in the movie from the book, I thought it would detract from the viewing experience. Instead, I found that the book and the film covered two very different aspects of the story, each expertly done for the utilized medium.
In the book (which was released a year before the film), we find that the shark hunt is not only a matter of public safety but also infused with the politics of the island of Amity and the personal drama of a cuckolded police chief. These human elements made the characters seem more like the monsters than the actual shark did. Those who have seen the film will know that there is no affair with the police chief’s wife, mainly because there’s no time to cover it. Instead, the film focuses on the tense chase and destruction of the shark that terrorized an island in the midst of the height of its tourist season.
What I found interesting about watching Jaws this time around was actually how Hitchcock-esque the film seemed. As Spielberg’s breakout film, Jaws did have a few moments of his signature, albeit still undeveloped style, but much of it almost felt like Alfred Hitchcock was behind the camera (especially with the “Vertigo shot” at the beach). So much of the cinematography was expertly framed and shot that you almost don’t realize that practically a third (or more) of the film is just three men on a boat. Even though I had seen this film many times before, it still is a thrilling ride up until the explosive conclusion.
An excellent film adaptation to accompany a fantastic book’s plot, I give Jaws 4.0 stars out of 5.