Greetings from the Odinson,
On September 3rd, the Odinson got to fulfill a lifelong dream. I got to see JAWS on the Big Screen at the Alamo Draft House in Dallas. There are a few significant bits of history I learned that night. One, the very first film the Alamo Draft House showed when they opened for business was JAWS. Second, back in 1975, when Steven Spielberg was test screening his movie, he did it in Dallas (at a theatre that no longer exist and whose name escapes me) and it ran so well that Dallas became his lucky charm for future test screenings.
I was only a year old when this seminal film hit theatres in the summer of 1975, so I missed its first theatrical run. JAWS has the distinct honor of being the very first recognized Summer Blockbuster Movie in history. Before Star Wars, before Jurassic Park, before the Avengers, there was JAWS! I love this film. It’s one of those movies I watch at least once a year. As I sat and thought about my favorite movies of All-Time I realized something else, I realized just how rooted in comic books and pop culture my taste in cinema is, and why not? Even if under the banner of “Proto-Culture,” it was Earth’s pop culture that helped defeat the alien Zentradi during The Macross Saga.
Along with Star Wars: A New Hope, The Matrix, Clerks, and The Crow, JAWS fills out my Top 5 favorite movies of All-Time. The story is great, the acting is superb, the music is legendary, and the directing is top drawer. JAWS is a perfect movie, a piece of art. More times than not, when a film is adapted from a novel, the book is usually better than the film. Well, I read the novel and in this instance, JAWS the movie is far superior to JAWS the book.
JAWS can be enjoyed by all viewers on many different levels. The first half of the movie has drama, humor, and suspense, and character building the likes rarely seen in cinema anymore. By time we enter the second half of the film the viewers care about the characters on the screen and the future of the citizens on Amity Island. The second half of the film becomes an epic action/adventure that by the end of the movie quickly devolves into a survivor story. There’s something very primal about that.
To say that JAWS was an influential film is a huge understatement. John Carpenter said that the reason his seminal film Halloween is shot the way it is, much of it from the Michael Myer’s point of view, was a direct influence of Spielberg shooting from the point of view of the shark in JAWS. JAWS revived the monster movie as well. From Piranha (1978) to Anaconda (1997), Lake Placid (1999) to Sharknado (2013), the influence and inspiration is there. Good and bad, the Syfy channel owes 90% of its programming to the influence of JAWS. But, JAWS also has something that most of its cinematic children do not, a compelling story to tell. JAWS taps into all four rules of CONFLICT in storytelling – Man vs. Man (Hooper’s new ways vs. Quint’s old ways); Man vs. Society (Sheriff Brody vs. town politics); Man vs. Nature (the brave crew of the Orca vs. the shark); Man vs. Himself (Brody vs. his fear of the water).
Odinson Rating: 5 out of 5 Hammers and a Thunderclap
If you haven’t seen JAWS in a while or if you just chalk it up to that movie you saw a long time ago, do yourself a favor and watch it again. Watch it again and take a moment to truly appreciate the gold that is unfolding on the screen. There is a reason why Steven Spielberg is recognized as one of the greatest visual storytellers in history. I shared JAWS with my son for the first time last year and he loved it! JAWS is a piece of cinema art that should be passed down from generation to generation. And, with 2015 being the 40th Anniversary of JAWS, there is no better time than now to revisit this masterpiece.
This is Odinson bidding thee farewell