10 Harsh Realties Of Rewatching Jaws, 49 Years Later

Summary

  • Jaws has aged surprisingly well for a movie from 1975.
  • There are, however, a few issues which become evident when rewatching Jaws 49 years later.
  • Jaws has inadvertenly helped to spread misinformation about sharks, and this has had a real-world impact.

It has been 49 years since Steven Spielberg’s Jaws redefined the summer blockbuster, but there are a few uncomfortable truths about the horror classic all these years later. Based on the novel by Peter Benchley, Jaws follows a small town police chief who tries to rid his community of a man-eating shark along with two unexpected allies. The three men set out into the open ocean to face the shark.

Jaws is an undeniable classic, and it made Steven Spielberg’s name as one of the most exciting young directors of his era. He may not have had the incredible career he has had without the early success of Jaws. However, almost 50 years later, there are some things which don’t hold up so well. Overall, Jaws is still an enjoyable thriller that makes for perfect summer viewing, but it’s worth understanding the issues which haven’t aged so well.

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10 The Female Characters Are Relatively Weak

The drama focuses on three men, and the women around them aren’t as well-developed

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Although Jaws is one of the great thrillers, its most impressive element is its characterization, not the horror scenes and the gore. The dynamic between the three men who set out to kill the shark is what makes the plot tick, and this allows Jaws to go through lengthy stretches without any sign of the shark, without ever being dull. Unfortunately, the movie’s female characters are not as interesting.

The most important female character in
Jaws
is Ellen, Chief Brody’s wife, but even she isn’t given a very meaty role. Her main purpose is to provide some emotional ballast for Brody.

The most important female character in Jaws is Ellen, Chief Brody’s wife, but even she isn’t given a very meaty role. Her main purpose is to provide some emotional ballast for Brody, and to ground him as a family man along with their two children. The other notable female characters are Chrissie Watkins, the swimmer who dies in the first scene, and Mrs. Kintner, the grieving mother of Alex. None of these women are as fully-formed as the men in the movie.

9 The Shark Is A Little Underwhelming

The mechanical shark isn’t as terrifying as its reputation

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Steven Spielberg and his team were forced to rework the script of Jaws after they were faced with technical problems. Fortunately, the malfunctioning mechanical shark ended up being a blessing in disguise, as this allowed Jaws to hint at the menace of the shark without having to show it on screen very much. When the shark does eventually surface, it isn’t as frightening as it could be.

Many of the death scenes in
Jaws
are made all the more terrifying because the shark remains unseen. It seems as if the characters are being dragged into the dark depths of the ocean by some unknown Lovecraftian force.

Many of the death scenes in Jaws are made all the more terrifying because the shark remains unseen. It seems as if the characters are being dragged into the dark depths of the ocean by some unknown Lovecraftian force too horrible to understand. Nothing could ever live up to this tease, but the mechanical shark is particularly underwhelming after visual effects have advanced so much in the last 49 years.

8 The Townsfolk Are Cartoonishly Stupid

The mayor isn’t the only character who shows a massive error of judgement

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After the townsfolk capture and kill the wrong shark, Hooper comments to Brody that they’re the only two sane people on the island. This is a joke that highlights Hooper’s arrogance, but it’s also true. The people who live on the island are frequently depicted as simple-minded, whether they’re throwing dynamite around on their fishing expedition or trying to play down the crisis after two people lose their lives.

The people who live on the island are frequently depicted as simple-minded, whether they’re throwing dynamite around on their fishing expedition or trying to play down the crisis after two people lose their lives.

Jaws is set on Amity Island, a fictional town somewhere in New England. Brody comes from New York City, and he often seems like the only sensible inhabitant on the island. People in horror movies always make bad decisions. It’s a popular trope of the genre, but having a whole town populated by idiots makes Jaws a little hard to believe. It’s no wonder these people elected such an incompetent mayor.

7 Jaws Never Should Have Started A Franchise

The first movie doesn’t need any sequels

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Jaws is based on the novel by Peter Benchley. It tells a complete story that suits its characters perfectly, and it provides a satisfying ending. There was no immediate need for a sequel, and the premise of Jaws 2 further proves this point, as it aims to simply rehash the narrative of the first movie. In Jaws 2, Brody suspects that another shark is back to terrorize Amity Island.

There was no immediate need for a sequel, and the premise of
Jaws 2
further proves this point, as it aims to simply rehash the narrative of the first movie.

The third and fourth movies in the Jaws franchise are just as disappointing as Jaws 2, as the plot gets more ridiculous in an attempt to recapture the intensity of the first movie. These poorly-received sequels haven’t yet managed to tarnish the legacy of Jaws, nor have the scores of imitators, but they were still unnecessary. Jaws‘ record-breaking financial success meant that a sequel was always likely, even if it made no sense from a creative perspective. Neither Steven Spielberg nor Peter Benchley were involved in any sequels.

6 The Scariest Scene Is A Monologue

Quint’s speech is more terrifying than most of the shark attack scenes

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Although Jaws has several scenes of nerve-shredding tension, like Chrissie’s death in the beginning, the scariest moment is Quint’s USS Indianapolis speech. As he and Hooper drink and trade stories about how they got their various scars, Quint tells him and Brody about the time that his ship sunk, and he spent days in the ocean, watching his comrades being picked off by hundreds of sharks.

Robert Shaw’s delivery also helps the scene stand out, and Steven Spielberg gives him all the time he needs to chew on every syllable of his horrifying story.

The story of the USS Indianapolis is completely true, and this real-world context makes Quint’s speech even more powerful. Robert Shaw’s delivery also helps the scene stand out, and Steven Spielberg gives him all the time he needs to chew on every syllable of his horrifying story. It’s a masterclass in writing and acting, but a horror movie shouldn’t let moments of quiet dialogue be scarier than action.

5 Spielberg’s Later Movies Are More Ambitious

Jaws would have looked a lot different 10 or 20 years later

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Jaws wasn’t Steven Spielberg’s first movie, but it was a huge breakthrough for the director, who was just 26-years-old when he signed on to the project. After a long and illustrious career, Jaws is still one of Steven Spielberg’s best movies, if not the best. However, movies like Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade and Jurassic Park show how he developed his ambitions as a director over the years.

Movies like
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

and
Jurassic Park
show how Spielberg developed his ambitions as a director over the years.

Jaws is smaller in scale than many of Spielberg’s biggest blockbusters. His artistic fingerprints are all over the movie, but it doesn’t display his flair for big action set pieces or ambitious long takes like some of his other greatest hits. That’s not to say that Jaws would have been any better if the Spielberg of the 1990s had directed it, but it would likely have been far grander and more epic.

4 The Ending Glosses Over Quint’s Death

Quint deserved a more fitting send-off

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Quint’s death in Jaws is an unforgettable moment, and it raises the stakes even higher for Hooper and Brody. However, after Brody kills the shark and reunites with Hooper, they don’t take long to mourn the third member of their party. There’s a minor shake of the head before the two begin paddling back toward shore as the sun rises over the ocean. Quint deserved a bigger send-off.

It makes sense that Hooper and Brody would be overwhelmed with relief, but they developed a special relationship with Quint.

The third act of Jaws brings the three men closer together. Although they disagree a lot when they are back on the island, their time at sea gives them a common goal and plenty of time to bond. It makes sense that Hooper and Brody would be overwhelmed with relief, but they developed a special relationship with Quint, and it doesn’t make sense that they brush his death off so quickly.

3 Brody Gets Lucky

The finale hinges on a one-in-a-million shot

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At the ending of Jaws, Brody has to shoot the gas tank inside the shark’s mouth while the boat sinks. Killing the shark is a moment of great triumph, but it doesn’t do much for Brody as a character. His journey is about learning to assert himself and overcoming his fears, so the luck of this shot has very little to do with any of the decisions he makes or the problems he faces throughout the rest of the movie.

Killing the shark is a moment of great triumph, but it doesn’t do much for Brody as a character.

On the other hand, it could be said that getting lucky is an important element to his progression. Under pressure from the mayor, he hesitated to close the beaches earlier, and this led to Alex’s death. He thought he could ride his luck by being passive, and he was punished. In the final scene, he tries to ride his luck by making a more active decision, and it pays off. In a way, Brody makes his own luck.

2 Jaws Gets The Science Wrong

Sharks don’t behave in the way that Hooper says they do

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Hooper is brought to Amity Island as an expert on sharks, but some of the things he tells Brody are completely wrong. Hooper thinks that the shark is an anomaly because it swims alone, and he refers to it as a “night feeder”. In reality, it’s not unusual for great white sharks to swim alone, and they mostly hunt at dusk or dawn, since it’s too dark at night. The shark in Jaws is shown hunting during the daylight hours.

In the 49 years since
Jaws
was released, public knowledge of sharks has changed, and a lot of the movie’s information has become dated.

In the 49 years since Jaws was released, public knowledge of sharks has changed, and a lot of the movie’s information has become dated. The whole premise of Jaws is based on the “rogue shark” theory, which claims that some sharks develop a taste for humans and decide to hunt them. This theory has fallen out of fashion in the last few decades, and it’s now generally accepted that shark bites are usually cases of mistaken identity, with sharks believing that people in the water are seals or other animals.

1 Jaws Has Been Damaging To The Image Of Sharks

Sharks deserve protection and respect, but Jaws made people fear them

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Jaws was an enormous hit during the summer of 1975, and it made plenty of people scared of sharks. In reality, shark attacks like the ones depicted in Jaws are incredibly rare, and sharks almost never attack multiple people. Jaws is scarier than most monster movies, because it depicts a creature that really exists here on Earth, but its portrayal of sharks has been harmful to the way people perceive them.

Jaws
is scarier than most monster movies, because it depicts a creature that really exists here on Earth, but its portrayal of sharks has been harmful to the way people perceive them.

Sharks are vital to their ecosystems, and their numbers have been declining for decades. Jaws made people less likely to want to contribute to shark conservation, and it has taken a long time to rehabilitate the public image of sharks. While shark bites do happen occasionally, Jaws made people think they are deliberate attacks that occur much more frequently than they do in real life.

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Steven Spielberg’s legendary tale of one man’s desperate battle with a killer Great White shark on his small seaside community. Faced with a mounting list of victims and a local authority dead-set against causing panic or destroying the tourist economy, he assembles a team to tackle the shark head-on.

Director Steven Spielberg Release Date June 18, 1975 Cast Roy Scheider , Robert Shaw , Richard Dreyfuss , Lorraine Gary , Murray Hamilton , Carl Gottlieb Runtime 124 minutes

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