Saturday, 16 June 2012

Jaws, dir. Steven Spielberg, scr. Peter Benchley, Carl Gottlieb, st. Roy Scheider, Robert Shaw, Richard Dreyfuss, Lorraine Gary, Murray Hamilton

Over the 37 years since its release, Spielberg's film about the big fish has been called many things: seminal, the Original Summer Blockbuster, the last word in primal terror. Yet as well as being all of these things, it's also model storytelling, classically mythical. There's a monster that's eating people. Three mismatched strangers, specialists in their fields (Hooper the scientist, Quint the sea-dog, Brody the law-enforcer), set out on a quest to face their own personal demons, but also to work as a team to bring down the beast. On the way there's beautifully judged space and time to explore each of these fascinating men in turn, and then together as a group. The film is terrifying in a beautiful way, in a way similar to Ridley Scott's compelling Alien design or the now-familiar trope of showing destruction, carnage or horror as art (see Von Trier's Melancholia). It's about fear, but I might say it's also about the rebirth one experiences once that fear is confronted. The effects may look shonky to younger viewers, but as ever, there's a wondrousness in tactility. In this new, restored version, you would do well to revisit or experience this near-perfect film on the big screen.