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There is a creature alive today that has survived millions of years of evolution, without change, without passion, and without logic. It lives to kill; a mindless, eating machine. It will attack and devour anything. It is as if God created the devil and gave him… Jaws.
—From the trailer for the first movie
When a giant great white shark starts killing swimmers at the resort town of Amity, the town mayor tries to keep it quiet rather than risk frightening tourists away. The police chief, Brody, investigates anyway, eventually gaining the support of two other men; Quint, a professional shark hunter, and Hooper, a marine biologist.
The level of terror in the tourist-economy town of Amity (and in the audience) gradually grows to a fever-pitch throughout the film as the attacks persist, eventually forcing Brody, Hooper and Quint to spend the last part of the film completely isolated at sea, hunting the monstrous shark.
This film had such a negative impact on the public that beach attendance dropped sharply the summer it was released and marine biologists cite it as a reason that people actually hunt great white sharks. Peter Benchley, the author of the original novel, even said he regretted choosing the great white as the creature due to people needlessly killing them.
The film was adapted from the book, Jaws, which was inspired partly by real shark attacks, partly by Moby Dick. Quint's dogged pursuit of the shark has many similarities with Captain Ahab's hunt of the great white whale.
Released in June 1975, Jaws was the first Summer Blockbuster, soon to be codified by Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope. Along with Godzilla and King Kong, it was also the inspiration for Giant Animal rampage Movies, and a launchpad for its director, Steven Spielberg.
The first is a classic of American cinema. It is very character based, with a strong plot, fantastic pacing, and wonderful acting. It is still to this day widely regarded as one of the most chilling and exciting thrillers of all time.
There were several sequels, the last of which has sharks repeatedly targeting members of Brody's family.
It also spawned plenty of merchandise, including trading cards, toys and four licensed games; Jaws for the NES, Jaws: The Computer Game for Commodore 64, Jaws Unleashed for Play Station 2 and X Box and the upcoming Jaws: Ultimate Predator for Wii and Nintendo 3DS.
These films provide examples of:
- 3D Movie: The third movie. They also considered making The Revenge in 3D as well, but worries about the cost of shipping the 3D film cameras to the Bahamas and keeping them working properly in the tropical climate nixed that idea.
- Action Film Quiet Drama Scene: Quint's legendary monologue on the sinking of the U.S.S. Indianapolis.
- Which, incidentally, is Truth in Television. (Although in Real Life more of the sailors on the Indianapolis died from exposure and dehydration than from sharks.)
- Robert Shaw, an accomplished writer himself, made major contributions to the script for that scene. He believed there should be some explanation for his character's antipathy towards sharks.
- The scene where Mrs. Kitner confronts Sheriff Brody when the townspeople catch a shark they think is responsible. She slaps Brody, accusing him of indirectly letting her son die by letting the beaches stay open after the first attack. It's what leads Brody into his drinking binge during the middle part of the film, and explains why he tags along with Quint and Hooper to catch/kill the killer shark during the final act.
- Adaptational Villainy: Inverted with Hooper, who is a Jerkass in the novel and has an affair with Brody's wife. In the movie, he is much more sympathetic and allowed to survive in the end.
- Adaptation Distillation: Very much so. The novel was criticized for its unsympathetic characters, while the film is known for its depth of them. It also streamlined the plot, but remained fairly faithful (for example, in the movie, the Orca goes out and stays out until the end, while in the book, they make several trips out, returning at the end of each day - each !film encounter with the shark roughly corresponds to a single !book encounter, with the Orca returning to port after losing track of the shark). Like The Godfather before it, it was a rare example of a film being superior to the book.
- Another good use of this trope is the elimination of the novel's sub-plot revolving around Brody's wife Ellen having an affair with Hooper.
- Admiring the Abomination: Matt Hooper.
"...what we are dealing with here is a perfect engine, an eating machine. It's really a miracle of evolution."
- Aluminum Christmas Trees: And literal on that first part! Quint crushing his beer can doesn't look too impressive now that they're made of aluminum, and even a kid can do it. But at the time, they were made of tin, and it really was quite a show of strength to crush one.
- Animal Nemesis
- Anticlimax: The ending of the original book has the shark just quietly die from the wounds caused by the battle, which highly contrasts to the badassery shown in the film's climax.
- It's also worth noting the contrast between Quint's deaths: The movie truly lives up to its sheer climactic and terrifying intensity when Quint is eaten alive by the shark on the boat, screaming in terror as Brody helplessly watches. In the novel, he gets tangled and pulled down by one of the weighted barrels and unceremoniously drowns.
- The Archer: Someone in the first movie is one, as the captured tigershark after the initial hunt has an arrow sticking from it.
- An Arm and a Leg: The shark in Revenge rips off Sean's arm before going for the killing strike.
- Attack of the Town Festival: While it wasn't a festival, the town officials tried to deny that there was a shark near the town as closing the beach would ruin the town's tourist business over the Fourth of July weekend.
- 2 also takes place at the beginning of the summer season, 3 coincides with preparations to open a water park, and Sean's death in 4 is set against the backdrop of the Christmas celebration.
- Badass: Chief Brody, full throttle. After all, he blew up the first shark and electrocuted the second one.
- Blood From the Mouth: Quint.
- Blood Is Squicker in Water
- Bloodier and Gorier: The Gekiga tie-in was much more graphic than the film it was based on.
- Brief Accent Imitation: Brody's first scene has his wife encourage him to talk more like the locals. He busts out "They're out in the yahd, not too fah from the cah," and she replies that he sounds like a New Yorker.
- Call Back: Thea mimicing her pondering father's gestures in Revenge is a callback to a similar moment in the first film.
- A much more subtle one - the barrels that Brody and Hooper swam back into shore on in the first movie? One of them is a planter outside of the Brody home in the second one.
- Canon Dis Continuity: Revenge does this to the third movie.
- Chekhov's Classroom: Dr. Elkins' info dump on sharks' abily to detect sound in 2 comes in handy for the climax.
- Chekhov's Gun:
- In the original:
Hooper: Dammit, Martin! This is compressed air! If you fool around with it, it'll blow up!
- Jaws 2 has one as well with the police boat's dredging hooks snagging the power cable.
- Jaws 3 with the grenade that the British scientists intend to use to blow up the shark. They don't get to use it, what with the Brit being eaten by the shark and all, but Mike and Kay do.
- The Citizen Kane of Shark Movies: the trope name alludes to the fact that Jaws 3 and Jaws: The Revenge are seen in a much better light after several worse movies in the "killer marine animal" genre came out.
- The Coroner Doth Protest Too Much: The local autorities try to write the death that opens the first movie as a "probable boating accident" instead of a shark attack.
- Creator Cameo: Peter Benchley playing a reporter.
"In recent days, a cloud has appeared on the horizon of this beautiful resort community - a cloud in the shape of a killer shark."
- Daylight Horror: The shark attacks mostly during the day on a bright, sunny beach. It does not stop it from being absolutely frightening. This includes the dramatic climax.
- Determinator: Quint, the obsessed hunter. The Shark too. It ain't gonna let three puny humans get the better of him.
- Diagonal Billing: For Scheider, Shaw, and Dreyfuss in the first film.
- Did I Mention It's Christmas?: In The Revenge.
- Dolled-Up Installment: Bruno Mattei's Cruel Jaws has also gone by the name Jaws 5: Cruel Jaws.
- Dropped a Bridge on Him: Sean Brody in the fourth film. Though it could have been worse, as the original script had Martin dying to serve as a launchpad for his wife's sunny Carribbean adventure, with even her burgeoning romance with Michael Caine intact. Thankfully, Roy Scheider refused to desecrate his character so much.
- Though they still did it anyway--Ellen claims that "the fear of it killed him!", implying that Martin spent the last years of his life terrified that all the sharks of the world were coming for him.
- Dude, Not Funny: In-universe example is Mrs. Taft's reaction during the first film's town meeting when Denherder jokes if the reward money for shark's capture comes in cash or check.
- Eaten Alive: Quint. Later, the third film's shark swallows FitzRoyce alive.
- Everything's Even Worse with Sharks
- Father Neptune: Quint.
- The Film of the Book
- Flare Gun: Shooting with it in 2 when everything is soaked by gasoline proves to be an unpleasant mix.
- Flash Back: While battling the shark in the fourth movie, Ellen Brody has flashbacks of events of the first movie that she wasn't even present to.
- And events of the fourth movie she wasn't present at (Sean's death), or viewed from another angle (the attack on Thea).
- Hand Wave--she could just coincidentally be imagining the attacks as they happened or were relayed to her.
- Follow the Leader: The Summer Blockbuster and "giant dangerous animal" movies were all inspired by this film.
- Glasses Pull: Martin has a few of these in the first film.
- Gonna Need More Trope: Perhaps the most famous example of someone suddenly realizing they need more of something as a situation gets out of hand:
Brody: You're gonna need a bigger boat.
- Great White Hunter: Quint - with bonus points for hunting an actual Great White.
- Half the Man He Used To Be: During his recollection of events of USS Indianapolis' sinking, Quint notes how one morning he found his friend missing everything from the waist down.
- Happily Married: In contrast to the book, Martin and Ellen Brody.
- Harpoon Gun: How else they're gonna attach those barrels on the shark?
- Hazardous Water
- Heel Realization: After the Fourth of July attack, Mayor Vaughn sputters "My kids were on that beach too!" as he realizes he put his own children in danger to sell himself a lie and keep the tourist dollars coming in.
- Heroic Dolphins: In "Jaws 3-D," Cindy and Sandy rescue Kay and Mike from a shark after attempting to keep them out of the Galleon. Later, one of them gets in front of the shark, again allowing Mike and Kay time to escape. It initially appears to be a Heroic Sacrifice on the dolphin's part, before Infant Immortality kicks in.
- Hollywood Night: During Denherder's and Charlie's attempt at capturing the shark in the first film.
- Hope Spot: The helicopter in the second movie, which arrives to help stranded kids. Then the shark appears and capsizes it.
- Horror Doesn't Settle for Simple Tuesday: Jaws is set around the Fourth of July, while The Revenge features Christmas.
- Ignored Expert: Brody insisted on closing the beaches, but the town council refused to take his advice.
- Immune to Bullets: The thing is so big and its hide is so tough that bullet wounds are a mere annoyance.
- It doesn't help that most of the animal is under water, making it difficult to see what you're shooting at, and the fact that most bullets stop after a few feet in water(assuming they don't disintegrate altogether on impact).
- Impending Doom POV
- Improbable Aiming Skills: Initially averted when Brody tries to shoot the shark with his service revolver in a genuinely realistic depiction of just how hard it is to hit a moving target with a handgun, but later played straight when he hits the gas canister in the shark's mouth from a not-inconsiderable distance. Arguably an easier shot due to him using a rifle this time, but the director admits he wasn't exactly aiming for realism with this one.
- Infant Immortality: Brutally averted, twice. Alex Kintner is brutally eaten and Pippet the dog shortly before him is implied to have been eaten to.
- Irony: Quint became a shark fisherman because of his experience with the Indianapolis. He also states, somewhat indirectly, that he'd rather drown than die by shark ("I'll never wear a life jacket again"). His house/business is filled with shark jaw trophies, a multitude of victims mirroring the multitude of sailors lost to sharks. He views the great white as the embodiment of his fears and thoughts towards sharks. And in the end, he falls victim to his living nightmare.
- It Can Think: The shark thinks almost as a human.
- It's Personal: The Trope Namer is attributed to the tagline of Jaws: The Revenge
- Jaws First Person Perspective: The Trope Namer
- Jump Scare: Spielberg already had one when the shark suddenly appears behind Brody, and he decided to add another when Hooper finds Ben Gardner's body. It worked so much the original had less of an impact.
- Kick the Dog: Literally. It is strongly implied that Pippet the dog has become the shark's victim--his sudden and ominous disappearance during the beach scene (where he had once been running into the waves to fetch a stick his owner had tossed to him, now we only see the stick floating on the water while his owner frantically calls for him)occurs just before the attack on Alex Kitner (which is itself a Kick the Dog moment), and is the first hint of the shark's presence. Subverted in that the shark was simply eating because it was hungry.
- Leitmotif: The Shark Theme... Dun dun, dun dun...
- Quint sings Ladies of Spain, and the tune repeats in the background as his stubborn insanity drives them further into peril.
- Life Imitates Art: Beach attendance dropped sharply for the summer of 1975.
- Losing Your Head: When the shark bites a fish in half in 3, its severed head is shown moving (in 3D!).
- And of course, Ben Gardner's head in the first film.
- Made of Explodium: Forget whether or not an air tank would really blow up when shot; the shark in the fourth movie is hit with the bowsprit of a sailboat and blows up for no reason whatsoever.
- Blame Executive Meddling for that. The original ending has the shark die from being skewered, taking the boat down with it.
- Male Gaze: During the beach scene in 2, before Brody's freak out.
- Milestone Celebration: Along with independence day celebration, Amity Island is also having a 50th Annual Regatta.
- Monster Vision
- Mood Whiplash: Comedy and horror, done expertly.
- Mouth Cam
- Musical Pastiche: "Ladies of Spain"
- Nails on a Blackboard: Quint, making his legendary entrance.
- Nightmare Sequence: Ellen in Revenge has a nightmare where she is attacked by a shark while swimming.
- Night Swim Equals Death: The opening scene in the first movie may be the Trope Codifier.
- No One Has a Memory Over Two Years Old: In-universe example. In the first sequel, Chief Brody is convinced a series of mysterious deaths and disappearances at sea are the work of another shark. Despite the events of four years before, and Brody presenting the selectmen with photographic evidence of the shark, they and the mayor fire him for his "paranoia" (and for panicking beachgoers by firing his weapon at a school of bluefish). And like true Bats, they keep the beaches open once again.
- Well, to be fair, all Brody showed them was a really bad close-up photo of the shark, to where you could BARELY see anything. Brody doesn't help his case by acting like a crazily obsessed man during the whole scene, showing absolutely no remorse for his actions on the beach, which could have resulted in someone being injured or even killed--the committee was well within its right to fire him over that.
- Not Quite Dead: Dolphin Sandy in the third film's ending.
- Nothing Is Scarier: Spielberg despised how phony the shark prop looked, so he shot it from awkward angles, beneath the water, for only moments at a time — anything to keep the audience from getting a good look at it. Spielberg later said that much of the credit for this goes to the film's editor, Verna Fields. They would fight in the editing room (Fields' pool house) over whether to use this trope (her preference) or to use a shot of the shark that Spielberg had spent an entire day capturing.
- You can also count the aforementioned dog scene. We never actually get any clarification over what happened to Pippet; all we see is his owner calling frantically for him and the stick he was fetching floating in the water. It's strongly implied that Pippet was an appetizer for the shark shortly before it attacked the little boy. This is especially horrifying for animal lovers.
- Numbered Sequels
- Oh Crap: Tina's reaction when she sees the shark coming for her boyfriend Ed in 2.
- One-Scene Wonder: Susan Backlinie, in the very first scene. Still jaw droppingly terrifying decades later.
- Only Sane Man: Hooper tells Brody that he will be "the only rational man left on [Amity] island" after Hooper leaves the next day to join a shark research vessel. Even after Hooper stays, Brody is arguably still the only rational man on the island.
- Peek-a-Boo Corpse:
- Under the wrecked boat in Jaws.
- And again in Jaws 2, also among some boat wreckage.
- Jaws 3, in the middle of an aquarium display.
- POV Cam
- Power Trio: In the original Quint (Id), Brody (Ego) and Hooper (Super Ego).
- Premiseville: Amity Island
- Precision F-Strike: The first movie, right before we get a good look at the shark for the first time: "'Slow ahead.' I can go slow ahead. Come on down here and chum some of this shit."
Mayor Vaughn: I don't think that you're familiar with our problems.
- Pre-Mortem One-Liner: "Smile, you son of a bitch!"
- Also doubles as a literal Precision F-Strike, as Brody fires the killing shot the moment he says 'bitch'.
- Real Life Writes the Plot: The scenes with the shark cage and the full shark visible were actually filmed with a real great white shark, and a miniature cage and Hooper doll. The shark was supposed to tear Hooper to pieces (Hooper is actually killed this way in the novel), but the crew could never properly provoke the shark to do so. Finally, the shark did destroy the cage and got stuck in the rope above it--but the Hooper doll wasn't in the cage at the time. Because this was the best footage they had, the filmmakers changed the script to have Hooper escape and survive.
- Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony: Done in the new hotel opening in the start of Jaws 2.
- Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Quint is the town's major expert on shark hunting, and has a sizable collection of shark trophies at his shop. When we find out he was on the USS Indianapolis - Hooper stops mocking Quint the second he finds out - we realize he's been hunting sharks for 30 years to get his revenge for what they'd done to his crewmates.
- And the shark currently hunting them could well be on his Roaring Rampage after Quint.
- In the second movie, Martin wonders if this is the case - with the second shark seeking to avenge the first one. This is quickly dismissed, though, and not mentioned afterwards.
- Unlike the above, Revenge makes it perfectly clear that the shark is out for - well - revenge.
- Rule of Scary: The shark does some things against the boat that would in actuality compromise itself, but the sheer shock of a 25 foot shark jumping into the back of the boat was enough to overlook that logic.
- Sacrificial Lamb: Chrissie.
- Say My Name: Fourth film has Jaaaaake!
- Scar Survey: Between Quint and Hooper.
- Serendipity Writes the Plot: There were problems with getting the mechanical shark to work, forcing the creators to turn it into mostly The Unseen.
- Shark Tunnel: The underwater tunnels of Seaworld in 3.
- Shout-Out: When the shark's mangled corpse sinks to the seafloor, it is accompanied by the same roar featured during the destruction of the semi in Spielberg's previous movie Duel.
- At one point Hooper does a brief W. C. Fields imitation.
- Skinny Dipping: Chrissy in the first film picked the very worst time for it.
- Sound Effect Bleep: "Smile, you son of a --" * BLAM!*
- Soundtrack Dissonance: Children are singing Christmas songs in the background as Sean is eaten in Revenge.
- Steel Ear Drums: Explosion underwater doesn't seem to be inconvenient at all in the third film.
- Suit with Vested Interests: The Mayor in the first two films.
- In the original novel, the Mayor is in serious debt to some shady and powerful men, and thus, needs the beach attendance to boost revenue to pay them back, making his insistence on keeping the beaches open significantly more understandable/plausible - he's already in fear for his life.
- Summer Blockbuster: The first.
- Super-Persistent Predator: The shark in Jaws spends the entire ending hunting our heroic crew. In Jaws: The Revenge the shark somehow follows Ellen from New England to the Bahamas - in a matter of days.
- The second movie's shark goes out of its way to attack its victims - particularly the teenagers.
- Synchronized Swarming: A possible example: Brody is alarmed by a shape in the water. It turns out to be a school of fish, and the shark is elsewhere. It is not clear to the audience exactly how similar the shape was to a shark.
- Tagline: "Don't go in the water." "Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water." "This time, it's personal!"
- Two-Faced: The shark in 2, after being burned during one of its attacks..
- Ultimate Evil
- Vertigo Effect: Chief Brody's reaction to seeing the Kintner boy being attacked by the shark.
- Very Loosely Based on a True Story: a series of shark attacks along the New Jersey shore in 1916 along with an anecdote to the wartime sinking of the USS Indianapolis.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: Brody family's dogs are nowhere to be seen in the second movie.
- Given that it's several years later and we have no idea how old the dogs were, isn't possible they passed away?
- Window Pain: The third barrel in the first film breaks Orca's front window when it's launched.