Everybody knows that it’s the story of a small island community threatened by an enormous great white shark. Don’t be put off though by people sniggering about the fake looking shark, humming the famous theme tune or doing impressions of Roy Scheider’s police chief finally coming to the conclusion that “You’re gonna need a bigger boat.” They can sneer all they like as far as I’m concerned because I think this is a truly great film. Nothing beats it for a sense of menace and fear of what lies underneath. Take the early shots of the woman swimming, accompanied by John Williams’ brilliant score. We don’t see the shark as the mechanical one wasn’t working but they’re still truly terrifying. We have no idea where the threat is or what will happen next. Also, the three leads, Roy Scheider, Robert Shaw and Richard Dreyfuss, then unknown actors, are absolutely brilliant together. The studio had wanted Charlton Heston, Sterling Hayden and Jon Voight but thankfully, that didn’t work out as there can only really be one star in this film.
CGI wasn’t around back then so Spielberg and his team did the best with what they had. Sure, today the shark would be more sophisticated but special effects can also look overdone and I’m not convinced it would make the film more any frightening. Jaws stands out today as something rare – a summer blockbuster which also manages to be a great work of art.