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Oscars retrospective: Steven Spielberg's Jaws

10 February 2020
The film won three Academy Awards in 1976
Though now controversial for its portrayal of sharks as man-eaters, Jaws was - and remains - a groundbreaking cinematic feat. Film studies expert Associate Professor Bruce Isaacs explains what makes it a classic.

When Jaws was released in 1975 it was a tremendous commercial success. Based on the novel by Peter Benchley, the movie became iconic thanks to the direction of a young Steven Spielberg and the instantly recognisable soundtrack by John Williams.

The film is about a shark that terrorises the fictional town of Amity Island during the holiday season. It is, as Associate Professor Isaacs notes, generic, mainstream cinema. But through the direction of Spielberg, the film became a landmark movie that helped Hollywood reinvent itself.

In this scene, the town’s police chief Martin Brody (played by Roy Scheider) witnesses the shark’s brutal attack for the first time and Spielberg masterfully inserts the viewer into chief Brody’s point of view.

 

Associate Professor Bruce Isaacs is a Senior Lecturer in Film Studies at the University of Sydney. This article was originally published in The Conversation in June 2017.

Loren Smith

Assistant Media Adviser (Humanities)

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