JAWS (1975)

So, Jaws… sure it’s a crazy movie. I feel that in this particular film, director Stephen Spielberg was able to build, maybe for the first time in his career, a story that merges reality and the inner world of the protagonist in a visual and engaging way. Think about it, the story is about a dude who’s afraid of the sea, he fears to die in it, yet he has to face a monster, a nightmare coming from the deep. What’s more disturbing about it is the fact that he (and the two supporting characters that complete him) seems to be the only person who’s truly disturbed about the fact that there’s a man-eating gigantic fish on the loose. So, what’s my point you say? Well rude! But also, my point is that I feel this movie is some sort of transition for Spielberg that is even further deepen on his next one, Close encounters of the third kind. A transition into what you ask? Into being a true filmmaker, I say!

But let’s start from the top, shall we?

So, what is this movie about anyway? Well, it’s about Martin, a man whose kind of a pushover and his attempts to enforce the law (he’s actually the chief of police!) in a town where people really don’t give a damn about the law because of so easy living, I mean they don’t even have robberies in there. So, what does the chief of police do in such a wonderful place? It seems that he’s in charge of hearing dumb complains from citizens, like getting extra parking space and such. So, when pieces of the body of a woman, who went too far into the ocean to quench her thirst for passion, are found on the sands, Martin has to find a way to deal with a possible shark attack, as indicated by the autopsy. But things get complicated when the mayor reminds him that summer season is coming and a lot of tourists are actually getting into town to enjoy the beach. See the predicament here?

From this point forwards, our protagonist faces the same issue time and time again, his own inability to convince others about the treat they’re all facing, subduing every time to the desires of others with serious consequences I might add. I mean… a boy gets eaten, some dude in a canoe… who else? Oh! Even an innocent tiger shark pays for this complete lack of leadership that Martin displays throughout. To ease up his soul though, we have to admit that the mayor plays a huge role in screwing things up with his blindness and greed, but hey… this is a coastal town we’re talking about, these people actually live from tourism, we can understand, right?

So, in the end Martin goes the hero’s journey way and accepts the guidance of his new mentors, Matt (biologist) and Quint (shark hunter). From them he learns the ways of man and somehow manages to become one near the end of a story. There’s actually a strange sequence which is kinda paradoxical, yet informs us about this change of fate from Martin. After watching Matt and Quint discuss over who of them is the manliest of all, and also after checking if his own balls are still there (literally, just check the movie!), Matt picks a flare gun as he accepts the battle he’s currently on. At this exact moment, a shooting star crosses the sky, kinda signalling a change of heart yet in a really childish way, which is just weird!

Well, anyway, we all know how the movie ends, some more folks die before Martin is able to shoot a gas can attached to the shark’s mouth, making it explode into a million pieces. So, why did I say that this movie works as a transition for Spielberg into true filmmaking? Well, you have to understand something first, this movie seems to be exploring the subject of becoming a real man, a man who actively pursuits his destiny, it’s also the first one in which he used dream like cinematography he will become famous for, but also, noting that his next work is about a man who leaves his family to pursue his dreams… I mean… it gets kinda obvious, don’t you think?

Okay, maybe I’m reflecting too much, so what!

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