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A Sociological Look at JAWS Essay

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A Sociological Look at JAWS

The movie I choose to review was Jaws, which is one of my favorites and a timeless classic. A traditional story about man against beast takes place on an island that depends on its summer tourist business. When the summer season in threatened by a series of shark attacks three men are sent out to track down a great white shark.

The three main (human) characters are Brody (Roy Scheider), the police chief, who came to the island from New York looking, so he thought, for a change from the fears of the city. There's Quint (Robert Shaw), a caricature of the crusty old seafaring salt, who has a very personal reason for hating sharks. And there's Hooper (Richard Dreyfuss), the rich kid turned oceanographer, who knows best of all what a shark can do to a man, and yet is willing to get into the water with one

The movie starts just before the summer boom with a girl running out in to the ocean for a midnight dip. She is undoubtedly attacked by a shark and when she is found on the beach the next morning the town officials dismiss the find as a boating accident.

Chief Brody who is not convinced of that is was a boating accident fears it was a shark attack. With the safety of not only the islanders but also the coming tourist crowds Brody tries to close the island off the tourists until the problem is solved. The Mayor sensing what Brody is up to stops the Chief from cutting off the islands only means of income. The Mayor tells Brody that no one is sure what happened to the girl and no decision like this can be made with the evidence at hand. Brody unwillingly agrees.

When there is another attack, this time on a small child and in broad daylight, a meeting is called to discuss what to do about the islands problem. The Chief decides t call the mainland for help but being an island of fishermen the locals have only on thing on their minds. This is where we get to meet Quint. Quint is convinced that the only way to solve the problem is to hunt it down. He offers his services, for a nominal fee of course. In the end the Mayor decides that the best way to deal with the problem is by offering a reward to anyone who catches the shark.

In comes Hooper. He arrives just in time to see the parade of fishermen cast off in any thing that’ll float in hopes of catching the prize shark. With chaos erupt...


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...e relationship work so well. Even though they are driven by different means the goal is the same.

Then comes Quint. While Hooper and Brody need him he has given them grief ever since he was introduced the plot. The relationship of the three is shady at best with the old (Quint) and the new (Hooper) combining forces to catch “the beast” Brody finds he is in the middle. At time you think that the come close, almost to the point that you think they enjoy each other’s company, but soon enough Quint’s true colors shine through and the other two begin to resent the collaboration. The two scenes where this is most evident are when Quint smashes the radio and then pushes the engine past its limit and burns it out. On both accounts Hooper and Brody can’t believe what has been done and are sure they have made a bad decision.

Being dubbed by critics as the movie that made people afraid to go in to the water Jaws became an instant classic. Even the memorable title track, which is basically two notes, is able to strike fear and resurrect memories of the beast. Released in 1975 it continues to captivate audiences and still gives me a reason not to go in the water.


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