Monday, June 07, 2010

Jaws - Still the Greatest Summer Blockbuster

For those of you not alive during that summer of 1975, it’s probably hard to imagine the impact this film had on the public when it was released. This was a movie that had audiences lining up for hours in the hot, sweltering sun. This was the movie which scared so many people that they stayed out of the water for years (and not just the ocean). It was also the first movie to make more than $100 million at the box office, convincing studio heads that there was some serious money to be made at the box office during the summer. And, of course, Jaws was the movie which launched Steven Spielberg’s career.

But back then, we were simply scared to death, and loving it. Not since Hitchcock’s Psycho had a single horror movie had such a profound impact on audiences and popular culture.

Nowadays, we expect summer movies to give us the most bang for our buck, but back then, when there wasn’t a designated summer movie season, Jaws was a welcome sucker-punch, demonstrating that movies weren’t simply meant to be watched…they were meant to be experienced.

Yeah, today, the shark effects may seem a bit quaint, but the film itself still scary, still suspenseful, and still tons of fun. The effects-heavy summer blockbusters we take for granted today would not exist if it weren’t for Jaws, easily the most visceral, violent and audience-rousing movie of all time.

D.M. Anderson