What makes a film a classic? In this column, film scholar Bruce Isaacs looks at a single sequence from a classic film and analyses its brilliance.
When Jaws was released in 1975 it was a tremendous commercial success. Based on the novel by Peter Benchley, the movie became iconic thanks to the direction of a young Steven Spielberg and the instantly recognisable soundtrack by John Williams.
The film is about a shark that terrorises the fictional town of Amity Island during the holiday season. It is, as Bruce Isaacs notes, generic, mainstream cinema. But through the direction of Spielberg, the film became a landmark movie that helped Hollywood reinvent itself.
In this scene, the town’s police chief Martin Brody (played by Roy Scheider) witnesses the shark’s brutal attack for the first time and Spielberg masterfully inserts the viewer into chief Brody’s point of view.
The great movie scenes: Hitchcock’s Vertigo
The great movie scenes: Antonioni’s The Passenger
The great movie scenes: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
The great movie scenes: Hitchcock’s Psycho
The great movie scenes: The Godfather
The great movie scenes: Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey