Making the Grades
Destined to become the first major calling card of Steven Spielberg's incredible career, Jaws wowed 1975 audiences with its mechanical shark, helped by John William's famous score.
This infamous shark-fest opens on the quiet beach of Amity Island, where a group of young people is gathered around a fire getting drunk, smoking pot, and pursuing sexual interests. When one couple leaves the party, and the girl strips off her clothes and heads into the ocean, Jaws really begins and the audience is left with the indelible image of a woman being eaten alive.
With 4th of July celebrations around the corner, the business types on the island interfere with police chief Martin Brody's (Roy Scheider) plans to close the beach, and demand he keep the shark attack quiet. But the secret is out after a young boy becomes dinner.
Determined to rid their sandy shores of this tourist-eating monster, the angry townspeople take to the ocean and return with a large shark. But oceanographer Matt Hooper (Richard Dreyfuss) knows they didn't get the killer after opening the shark's stomach and finding only fish and a license plate.
With two more men dead, the desperate town officials agree to pay $10,000 to an old-time shark hunter named Quint (Robert Shaw). Brody and Hooper join the search, heading off in Quint's aging boat.
Rated in 1975, before the classification system had a PG-13 category, the film received a PG. Using today's system, Jaws would likely have been awarded a PG-13 (or perhaps even R - due to the drug use depicted in the opening scene) considering the many bloody feedings portrayed. The movie also includes graphic shots of severed limbs and one victim who is explicitly consumed by the shark. And thanks to higher resolution of DVD and Blu-ray, all the details are sharper, including the silhouette of the skinny-dipper who provided the first bait.
Although well constructed, parents should remember the Jaws' premise is to create entertainment from watching humans being chewed to death. For children who have no sentimental attachment to this classic piece of cinema history, viewing it may still be a horrifying experience.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about Jaws.
What types of sharks are found off the Northeast U.S. coast and what are your chances of being eaten alive? Check http://www.beach-net.com/Shark.html for more shark information. Look for the link titled “The Chance of a Shark Attack”.