Jaws

AFI Rank: #48
Year Released: 1975
Director: Steven Spielberg
Actors: Roy Scheider, Richard Dreyfuss

Jaws is an amazing story which, even decades later, has the power to suck us in. I've seen this movie more times than I can count, and I watched it again fresh for this review. Yes, on one hand it's a "thriller" about a giant monster. However, there is so much more here. The interplay of the characters. The amazingly quotable dialogue. The sense of balancing a community's needs against what - at first - seems to be a vague threat.

The movie is definitely a "much lighter" version of the book, and it's well worth reading the book to see just how much more there was in the original story. Still, the movie richly deserves its #48 spot on the AFI top 100 - and it goes up against many heavy hitting dramas to earn that rank.

The pacing is perfect, the music draws the atmosphere into focus. And there are all sorts of fascinating facts about sharks sprinkled in and around.

I also love the landscapes. I grew up in New England and have visited Cape Cod many times. It's a gorgeous area of the world, and it's great to get immersed in that beach-side world atmosphere with the quiet streets and seaside homes.

One thing I was curious about was how Jaws would fare on the Bechdel test. This test is simply to see if there are two named female characters who talk with each other about something other than a man. Even with all the times I've seen this movie, it was hard to remember any meaningful female characters here. There's the police chief's wife. The bereaved mother of the chomped-on kid. The secretary at the police station. And really, that's it.

On my rewatching, the only scene I spotted with two women talking was when a random woman teased the captain's wife about never being a "real" islander because she wasn't born on-island. But since the random woman wasn't named, it doesn't count.

Still, despite that minor complaint, this is great from start to finish. The characters are amazing. The dialogue is great fun. The story hooks you from the start and has you enthralled until the very end.

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AFI Top 100 Film Listing
Male vs Female Actors in the AFI Top 100
The Bechdel Test in the AFI Top 100