The Female Perspective: Don’t Go In The Water…40 Years Later

Welcome! This is a Tri-weekly blog* by Author J.L. Metcalf where I discuss anything and everything that strikes my fancy. If you have ideas on what you think I should write about, please send me an email via my website!

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*All views expressed in “The Female Perspective” are those of J.L. Metcalf, not Great Stories, Inc.

Jaws has been one of my all-time favorite movies since as long as I can remember and with it being re-released into theaters for it’s 40th Anniversary I thought, heck, I’ll write a wee little blog post about a big shark and the gang.

Jaws Original Poster (1975)
Jaws Original Poster (1975)

Why Jaws Is Still Awesome

If I had kids I would make it a point to show them Jaws as soon as it was logically possible because it is the epitome of what a horror movie should be: it has great characters, a story and…a giant shark that you don’t even see until near the end of the film!!!

Now, as many people know by now, the reason for this was the malfunctioning shark, Bruce, that just wouldn’t act on demand (those darn mechanical sharks are quite the diva’s, I hear). It was a lucky break for all of us because the amount of tension that is built up by not knowing what the darn shark looks like (even though we know what sharks look like) makes this movie a classic in the horror genre. It builds a level of suspense that few movies can match.

It’s one of those movies that simply holds up (unlike the TV adaptation of The Stand, that thing does not hold up, dear me), the effects are pretty stellar (and minimal) and the shark is scary as all heck.

Seriously, if you haven’t seen this movie you need to get on that. Like now. Oh, there be spoilers ahead!

The Feminism In Jaws

Mr. and Mrs. Brody.
Mr. and Mrs. Brody.

This being a blog with a feminist slant,  I have to chat a little bit about the women in Jaws and this pretty much includes poor, doomed Chrissie at the start and Mrs. Ellen Brody, played by Lorraine Grey. Yeah, so the one thing about Jaws is that it is definitely a man-fest, which actually works quite well in my opinion. While it’s not exactly a pro-women stance, at least the women aren’t relegated to damsels in distress so much as…unimportant, to a certain extent. Don’t get me wrong, Ellen Brody is a great character, she is clearly Brody’s rock, his emotional tether and she does her best to keep him from going nuts but other than a few scenes and a mushy goodbye at Quint’s boat, we don’t get all that much from Ellen (until the sequels, but we’ll not go there in this blog today).

I won’t fault Jaws for being lacking in the lady department because of two reasons: One, Jaws is based on a book and from what I understand (I have not read it) the characters go entirely different ways in a lot of respects and I think that I would have liked Ellen quite a bit less in the book than I did in the movie. Two, Spielberg treated the ladies in the film pretty well (especially for the 70’s) so I’ll give it a pass this time. I’m just grateful there wasn’t any excessive nudity or crap like that! So for a lot of reasons, I give Jaws a pass for being less than awesome on the female front. It needed to be a story about the 3 men, battling the shark, It made sense. Or maybe I’m allowing it because this is one of my favorite movies, hey, I never claimed to be perfect!

My Favorite Scene(s)

I have a few honestly, but my all-time favorite scene that gets me every time? This one, right here.

When the camera zooms in on Brody (while Ellen tries to relax him) I want to scream, it perfectly, PERFECTLY represents the total, poop in your pants fear that Brody is feeling when he sees that poor kid on the yellow raft (aka Alex) get killed. It’s Brody’s worst nightmare, it’s the thing he’d been fearing all this time. Another person has been killed, a child no less, and he was right there, powerless to stop it. Then all goes quiet and you see bloody surf, a torn yellow raft and you get chills. Chills. Things are about to get real folks.

The 3 Amigos- Jaws Style! Quint, Brody and Cooper.
The 3 Amigos- Jaws Style! Quint, Brody and Cooper.

Now, my second favorite scene is a popular one with many folks, it’s the Indianapolis Speech. Good lord almighty, Quint (played by Robert Shaw) makes you understand his character is so much more than you thought at first. His speech gives dimension to a guy you thought was just some salty sea dog type who hated people.

No way man, this guy has seen…stuff. The kind of stuff you never want to ever see.

Yeah. I think we all need a moment now.

On to the last one, this clip will give you smile…

AHHHH! Classic!

Brody is all peeved about having to chum and BOOM, everything changes in that instance and he utters one of the most famous lines in cinema history. What really strikes me is his calm, his utter calm. He doesn’t yell, doesn’t scream, he simply stands upright quickly and backs away to utter his famous line to Quint. That’s the moment folks, that’s when we see what Jaws is really about. It’s the moment that we realize Jaws is no teeny tiny shark, he’s at least 24 feet long and he is going to be quite the adversary. It’s also the moment where you can’t help but wonder, can these guys prevail?

The Jaws Legacy

Perhaps I am biased but as someone who has seen her fair share of horror movies I can honestly say that few have managed to capture the same feeling of fear and tension that Jaws still does 40 years later. It’s a classic for a reason folks and I try to watch it at least once a year, usually in the summer too. This year, I might finally have the opportunity to see it on the big screen, which would be a rare treat for many of us diehard Jaws fans.

Spielberg in the Jaws of...well, Bruce.
Spielberg in the Jaws of…well, Bruce.

What is your favorite scene, or scenes? Do you think there is a better horror film than Jaws

Tell me in the comments!

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