Looking Back at a Horror Classic: “Jaws”

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Steven Spielberg’s 1975 film, Jaws, quickly became what is widely considered a classic in the modern era of cinema. The movie’s graceful, yet powerful way of straddling the genres of horror, thriller, and action are what make the film so impactful — even more than 40 years later.

Contrary to most horror films, which introduce us to dark dimensions of supernatural creatures and apocalyptic worlds, Jaws draws us deeper into the frightening reality of everyday life.

Interestingly, the killer shark in Jaws shows a fair balance of similarities and differences to the monsters that occupy fellow horror films. Unlike demonic spirits or infectious zombies, the monster in Jaws is much more realistic and believable, making it stand apart from many of horror’s other famous villains. The film’s ever-present, lurking threat is what gives the film that familiar sense of eeriness that conventionalizes it as a horror film, while its elements of ordinary, everyday life is what sets it apart.

The film’s endearing characteristics involving the average American man trying desperately to keep his children and community safe, contrasted against the frighteningly dark realities of what lies beneath the water — or, the idea of facing forces that we cannot control — that is what often haunts us.

The combination of Spielberg’s camera work and Verna Fields’ editing, which often switches between shots of chaotic waves and peaceful beach houses, offers a perfectly pieced together view of destructiveness versus safety. The everyday terror of the film is transcended through these shots of opposing forces, recreating the familiar fear that danger can exist even in the most beautiful of places. Jaws is a rare case in which a film really deserves the title of “Instant Classic.”

— Liz Yolich, Blog Contributer

Liz Yolich
Liz Yolich

Elizabeth (“Liz” for short) is currently a student at Lewis University working towards her B.A. in middle level education. This is her first publication for Jet Fuel Review, but her work has also appeared in the most recent issue of Windows Fine Arts Magazine. When not studying or writing, Liz works at her local library, where she is really able to indulge in her love of learning and literature.

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