As part of its year-long commemoration of 100 years making movies, Universal is releasing Jaws in a terrific new Blu-ray edition today, to which we say: about time. For us, Jaws is one of those special movies that, no matter how many times you see it, never gets old; it’s not just that it’s a great movie (though it is), since there are plenty of great movies that don’t scream out for repeat viewings. (Dancer in the Dark was one of our favorite films of 2000, for example, but we can’t imagine subjecting ourselves to it again.) It’s that there are certain movies that only grow richer with return visits, or whose pleasures seem inexplicable inured to the diminishing glow of repetition. After the jump, some thoughts on Jaws and a few other movies that we just can’t stop watching.
The original summer blockbuster stands up to repeat viewings for one simple reason that the talking robot/cars and flaccid superheroes that now define the term don’t: director Steven Spielberg had limited resources at his disposal (namely, an unconvincing fake shark that hardly ever worked), and had to tell his story the old-fashioned way, i.e. by creating vivid characters and bouncing them off each other. The super-macho Quint, the brainy rich kid Hooper, and the relocated New York cop were each a fertile and timely ’70s male archetype; Spielberg put them on a tiny boat (they needed a bigger one, really) and let them go at each other in a manner so fascinating that we all but forgot about that damn shark. On top of that, he executed his suspense sequences so skillfully that they still hold up, all these years later; your film editor has seen Jaws dozens of times, but Spielberg’s pacing and camerawork are so savvy, that I still lose my shit when the shark rears up near Brody’s chum bucket (above), or when Ben Gardner’s head floats into that porthole.