Jaws is the first film in a motion picture franchise which has so far spanned 4 feature films and a variety of novelizations and other ancillary media. Jaws is commonly referred to as the first modern day 'Block-buster'. Setting box office records, the film was labeled a "blockbuster" during its initial theatrical release during the summer of 1975. This term has been subsequently used to describe and market hit films, and is derived from the fact lines could be seen winding down and around city blocks. This phenomenon was in part due to limited theatrical runs and the lack of what would later become multiplex cinema theaters. Jaws stars Roy Scheider as Martin Brody, Richard Dreyfuss as Matt Hooper and Robert Shaw as Quint.
A girl named Chrissie Watkins leaves a party on Amity Island and goes skinny dipping. While swimming out near a buoy, she is seized by something from below; it thrashes her around and drags her under the ocean.
Chrissie is reported missing and her remains are later found on the beach by the Deputy of police chief Martin Brody. The medical examiner informs Brody that she was killed by a shark. Brody plans to close the beaches but is overruled by Mayor Larry Vaughan, who fears that reports of a shark attack will ruin the summer tourist season, the town's primary source of income. The medical examiner consequently attributes the death to a boating accident. Brody reluctantly goes along with the explanation. The shark then kills a young boy swimming at the beach. His mother places a bounty on the shark, sparking an amateur shark-hunting frenzy and attracting the attention of local professional shark hunter Quint, who offers to kill the shark for $10,000. Marine biologist Matt Hooper examines Chrissie's remains and determines that she was killed by a shark, not a boat.
A large tiger shark is caught by fishermen, leading the townspeople to believe the problem is solved. Hooper asks to examine its stomach contents, but Vaughan refuses. That evening, Brody and Hooper secretly open the shark's stomach and discover that it does not contain human remains. They head out to sea to find the shark, but instead find the wreckage of a boat belonging to local fisherman Ben Gardner. Hooper explores the vessel underwater and discovers a sizable shark's tooth protruding from the damaged hull before he is startled by Gardner's corpse, causing him to drop the tooth. Without evidence, Vaughan refuses to close the beaches or hire Quint.
Many tourists arrive on the Fourth of July. The children's prank causes panic at the main beach while the shark enters a nearby estuary and kills a man. Brody's son Michael, who narrowly escapes the attack, goes into shock. Brody finally convinces Vaughan to hire Quint, and Quint reluctantly allows Hooper and Brody to join the hunt. The three set out to kill the shark aboard Quint's vessel, The Orca.
Brody is given the task of laying a chum line but an enormous great white looms up behind the boat, and the trio watch it circle the Orca. Quint estimates its size as twenty-five feet in length, with a weight of over three tons. He harpoons it with a line attached to a flotation barrel, but the shark pulls the barrel underwater and disappears.
The men retire to the cabin, where Quint relates his experience with sharks as a survivor of the sinking of the USS Indianapolis. The shark returns, damages the hull and slips away. It reappears in the morning. Brody attempts to call the U.S. Coast Guard, but Quint destroys the radio, enraging Brody. After a long chase, Quint harpoons two more barrels to the shark, and the men tie them both to the stern, but the shark drags the boat backwards, forcing water onto the deck and flooding the engine. Quint severs the line to prevent the transom from being cut. He then heads toward shore, hoping to draw it into shallow waters and suffocate it. In his obsession to kill the shark, Quint burns out the Orca's engine.
With the boat immobilized, the trio attempt a desperate approach: Hooper dons scuba gear and enters the ocean inside a shark proof cage, intending to lethally inject the shark with a hypodermic spear filled with strychnine. The shark attacks and demolishes the cage from behind, causing Hooper to drop the spear before he can inject it. When the shark becomes entangled in the wrecked cage, Hooper escapes and hides in the seabed. The shark then leaps onto the boat and attacks it directly, crushing the transom. Quint slides down the deck and is devoured alive by the shark. When the shark attacks again, Brody shoves a pressurized scuba tank into its mouth, then takes Quint's rifle and climbs the sinking Orca's mast. The shark, with the tank still in its mouth, begins swimming toward Brody, who shoots the tank, causing it to explode and blowing the shark to pieces. Hooper swims to the surface and he and Brody use the barrels to swim back to shore.
The first Amity IncidentEdit
Jaws, is presumedly based on a frightening true incident which occurred in 1973, referred to as 'The Amity Incident'. During the summer months of 1973, a rogue great white shark staked a claim near the coastal community of Amity, Massachusetts, and began to terrorize swimmers which nearly destroyed the local Amitian economy.
According to reports at the time, the mayor of Amity's initial reluctance to comply with the Chief of police's request to catch and kill the shark, directly led to wide spread panic on the Island. Ultimately, the shark was tracked down and purportedly destroyed after a lengthy sea battle which included Police chief Martin Brody, Oceanographer Matt Hooper, and local extreme fisherman, Bartholomew Marion Quint.
In May of 1974 production of a feature film, "Jaws", based on 'The Amity Incident' began quietly on what is known as South beach on the coast of Martha's Vineyard. JAWS was later released to overwhelming critical acclaim during the sumer of 1975, now referred to as 'the summer of the shark'. Besides being plagued with countless production problems including a malfunctioning shark and a sinking camera boat, the crew endured and the film was miraculously completed.
LegacyEditFollowing the film's release the Amity town council moved to change the name of the island to its former title as Martha's Vineyard in an attempt to distance itself from popularity the film generated, as well as to downplay its attraction to shark hunters seeking to find a shark like that depicted in the film. In addition, the deluge of increased tourism had subsequently began to erode the quiet and quaint lifestyle locals had been enjoying.
Nevertheless, the thin line between fact and fiction has continued to turn the 'Amity Incident' into a local legend on the Island of Martha's Vineyard, and most of the film locations remain mostly intact as they were during production.
As a result, fans of the film (or 'fin fans'), continue to flock to the island to relive the initial fear that kept so many out of the ocean during the summer of the film's release. Following pressure from fans, the island chamber of commerce finally moved to re-adopt 'Amity' as the island's official name but only for select summer months. In line with this move by the chamber of commerce, an event (Jawsfest: Tribute) took place on the Island during the summer of 2012, and a new Blu-ray release of the film was released following extensive restoration of the original negatives.