Jaws is a 1975 American thriller film directed by Steven Spielberg and based on Peter Benchley's 1974 novel of the same name. In the story, a giant man-eating great white shark attacks beachgoers on Amity Island, a fictional New England summer resort town, prompting the local police chief to hunt it with the help of a marine biologist and a professional shark hunter. The film stars Roy Scheider as police chief Martin Brody, Robert Shaw as shark hunter Quint, Richard Dreyfuss as oceanographer Matt Hooper, Murray Hamilton as Larry Vaughn, the mayor of Amity Island, and Lorraine Gary as Brody's wife, Ellen. The screenplay is credited to both Benchley, who wrote the first drafts, and actor-writer Carl Gottlieb, who rewrote the script during principal photography.
Shot mostly on location on Martha's Vineyard in Massachusetts, the film had a troubled production, going over budget and past schedule. As the art department's mechanical sharks suffered many malfunctions, Spielberg decided to mostly suggest the animal's presence, employing an ominous, minimalistic theme created by composer John Williams to indicate the shark's impending appearances. Spielberg and others have compared this suggestive approach to that of classic thriller director Alfred Hitchcock. Universal Pictures gave the film what was then an exceptionally wide release for a major studio picture, over 450 screens, accompanied by an extensive marketing campaign with a heavy emphasis on television spots and tie-in merchandise.
Now considered one of the greatest films ever made, Jaws was the prototypical summer blockbuster, with its release regarded as a watershed moment in motion picture history. Jaws became the highest-grossing film of all time until the release of Star Wars (1977). It won several awards for its soundtrack and editing. Along with Star Wars, Jaws was pivotal in establishing the modern Hollywood business model, which revolves around high box-office returns from action and adventure pictures with simple "high-concept" premises that are released during the summer in thousands of theaters and supported by heavy advertising. It was followed by three sequels, none with the participation of Spielberg or Benchley, and many imitative thrillers. In 2001, Jaws was selected by the Library of Congress for preservation in the United States National Film Registry, being deemed "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".
During a late-night beach party on Amity Island, a young woman goes swimming in the ocean. While treading water, she is violently pulled under. The next morning, her partial remains are found on shore. The medical examiner ruling the death a shark attack leads Police Chief Martin Brody to close the beaches. Mayor Larry Vaughn overrules him, fearing it will ruin the town's summer economy. The coroner now concurs with the mayor's theory that the girl was killed in a boating accident. Brody reluctantly accepts their conclusion until another fatal shark attack occurs shortly after. A bounty is then placed on the shark, resulting in an amateur shark-hunting frenzy. Local professional shark hunter Quint offers his services for $10,000. Meanwhile, consulting oceanographer Matt Hooper examines the first victim's remains and confirms the death was from a shark attack.
When local fishermen catch a large tiger shark, the mayor proclaims the beaches safe. Hooper disputes it being the same predator, confirming this after no human remains are found inside it. Hooper and Brody find a half-sunken vessel while searching the night waters in Hooper's boat. Underwater, Hooper retrieves a sizable great white shark's tooth embedded in the submerged hull. He drops it after finding a partial corpse. Vaughn discounts Brody and Hooper's claims that a huge great white shark is responsible and refuses to close the beaches, allowing only added safety precautions. On the Fourth of July weekend, tourists pack the beaches. Following a juvenile prank, the real shark enters a nearby estuary, killing a boater and causing Brody's son, Michael, to go into shock. Brody finally convinces a devastated Vaughn to hire Quint.
Quint, Brody, and Hooper set out on Quint's boat, the Orca, to hunt the shark. While Brody lays down a chum line, Quint waits for an opportunity to hook the shark. Without warning, it appears behind the boat. Quint estimates the shark's length at 25 feet (7.6 m) and harpoons a barrel into it, but it drags the barrel underwater and disappears.
At nightfall, as the three swap stories, the great white returns unexpectedly, ramming the boat's hull and killing the power. The men work through the night repairing the engine. In the morning, Brody attempts to call the Coast Guard, but Quint smashes the radio, enraging Brody. After a long chase, Quint harpoons another barrel into the shark. The line is tied to the stern, but the shark drags the boat backwards, swamping the deck and flooding the engine compartment, forcing Quint to sever the line to prevent the transom from being pulled out. He then heads toward shore, intending to lure the shark to shallower waters and suffocate it, but the overtaxed engine quits.
With the Orca slowly sinking, the trio attempt a riskier approach: Hooper dons scuba gear and enters the water in a shark-proof cage, intending to lethally inject the shark with strychnine using a hypodermic spear. The shark demolishes the cage before Hooper can inject it, but he manages to escape to the seabed. The shark then attacks the boat directly, killing Quint. Trapped on the sinking vessel, Brody stuffs a pressurized scuba tank into the shark's mouth, and, climbing the mast, shoots the tank with Quint's rifle, destroying it. The resulting explosion obliterates the shark. Hooper resurfaces, and he and Brody paddle to Amity Island clinging to boat wreckage.
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