Jaws terrifies in a way that’s nearly as ruthless as the killer shark it depicts. With cinematic invention and unerring precision, Steven Spielberg turned
Peter Benchley’s best-selling novel into a harrowing re-creation of our deepest aquatic fears. Yes, the movie says, there is something under there coming after your legs. The genius of Spielberg’s method is the fact that he refrains from showing us the creature itself for most of the film, which turns Jaws into a suspense picture rather than a monster flick (and allows enough acting space for Robert Shaw, Roy Scheider and Richard Dreyfuss to nearly make it a character study). Still, the movie’s jolts – unexpected, gory and perfectly in sync with John Williams’ iconic score – are the true reason for its longevity. It is those moments, expertly choreographed by Spielberg just as the filmmaker was realizing the full potential of his talent, that continue to get under our skin.