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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
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Released in June 1975, Jaws was Hollywood's first Summer Blockbuster, soon to be codified by Star Wars, and a launchpad for the career of its director, Steven Spielberg. Along with Godzilla (1954) and King Kong (1933), it also served as a key inspiration for giant animal rampage movies.

When a giant great white shark starts attacking swimmers near the New England resort community of Amity Island, the town mayor tries to keep things quiet rather than risk frightening tourists away at the height of the busy summer season. But police chief Martin Brody (Roy Scheider) investigates anyway, eventually gaining the support of two other men: Matt Hooper (Richard Dreyfuss), a marine biologist, and Quint (Robert Shaw), a professional shark hunter.

As the level of terror in the tourist-economy town of Amity — and in the audience — gradually grows to a fever pitch, the shark continues with its attacks, eventually forcing Brody, Hooper and Quint to spend the last third of the film completely isolated at sea, hunting the monstrous creature.

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The film was adapted from the 1974 novel of the same name by Peter Benchley, which it has dwarfed astronomically in terms of public recognition. The novel was inspired partly by real shark attacks and partly by Moby-Dick, with Quint's dogged pursuit of the shark sharing many similarities with Captain Ahab's hunt of the great white whale.

Jaws had such a profound impact on the public that beach attendance dropped sharply the summer it was released — it has been said that it filled the cinemas and emptied the beaches.

The film was followed by three sequels:

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 PS2 and Xbox, and Jaws: Ultimate Predator for Wii and Nintendo 3DS. The Universal Studios Theme Parks also had many Jaws-inspired rides (though the one in Orlando was deactivated to expand the Harry Potter area). A musical based around the making of the film, titled Bruce is also in the works.

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Although Scheider, Shaw, and Dreyfuss got top billing, the true star of the movie was a mechanical shark named Bruce, not Jaws!


"You're gonna need a bigger trope":

  • Achievements in Ignorance: Two brainless yahoos with a tire and a bit of raw beef manage to hook the shark fishing off the dock, something that a whole posse of fishermen couldn't manage and which even Quint took a long time to do. It didn't do them much good, though, since the shark just pulls down the dock and keeps swimming.
  • Action Film, Quiet Drama Scene:
    • Quint's legendary monologue on the sinking of the USS Indianapolis. Which, incidentally, is Truth in Television. Although in Real Life, more of the sailors on the Indianapolis died from exposure, dehydration, and wounds suffered in the sinking 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 Sympathy: Invoked, as Steven Spielberg has said he found the novel's ostensible heroes so unlikable, he actually wanted the shark to win.
    • Hooper, who is an arrogant Jerkass in the novel who likes to flaunt his family's wealth and social status and has a sleazy affair with Brody's wife. In the movie, Hooper is much more sympathetic and allowed to survive in the end.
    • Quint, who gets an expanded backstory and deeper motivations for his actions, chiefly the fact that he was a survivor of the USS Indianapolis. Beyond that, he's more likable and charismatic, and though tense throughout the hunt for the shark, he grows to respect both Brody and Hooper.
    • The adulterous Mrs. Brody herself is a perfectly decent and loving wife and mother in the movie.
    • Mayor Vaughn owes money to the Mafia in the novel, which accounts for his refusal to deal with the shark preying on tourists, but in the movie his motive for refusing to shut down the beaches is mostly due to genuine concern about the town's livelihood, and a sincere belief that the shark threat is overblown.
  • Adaptation Distillation:
    • Very much so. It 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 is considered to be an example of a film being superior to the book.
    • Another good use of this trope is the elimination of the novel's distracting sub-plots, including one revolving around Brody's wife Ellen having an affair with Hooper and another about Amity's mayor being involved with the Mafia.
    • The climax is way more dramatic in the movie than the book. In the book, Hooper gets killed in the shark cage, while Quint merely drowns and the shark bleeds to death. In the movie, Hooper narrowly escapes getting eaten in the cage, Quint gets Eaten Alive, and the shark is blown to smithereens when Brody shoots the tank in its mouth.
  • Adaptation Explanation Extrication: In the novel, the mayor's main reason for keeping the beaches open was his ties to the mob, who owned real estate in Amity Island. This subplot was deemed unnecessary to the film and it was dropped, leaving greed as his motivation.
  • Adaptation Name Change: Chief Brody's son is named Martin Brody Jr. in the book, but is called Michael in the film, possibly due to the One Steve Limit.
  • Adapted Out: In the novel the Brodys have a third son, Billy.
  • Admiring the Abomination:
    • Matt Hooper is a more sympathetic example than some. A shark researcher from the oceanographic institute, he knows a lot about sharks and has been fascinated by them since a juvenile thresher destroyed his boat during childhood. He does not try to "protect" the shark, however, recognizing it's a major threat and someone has to exterminate it. It doesn't keep him from experiencing awe about it, though.
      "...What we are dealing with here is a perfect engine, an eating machine. It's really a miracle of evolution."
    • And this shark itself is specifically marveled at by both Hooper and Quint as being a truly unique specimen, with both of them admiring its tenacity, intelligence, and unpredictability. And size. The first time they (and the audience) get a really good look at the shark, Hooper is snapping pictures and calling it "beautiful."
  • An Aesop:
    • There's a message when it comes to overcoming fear. No matter how terrifying or unstoppable a monster is, you must not lose your nerve because courage can prevail in the end. And if you don't confront your worst fears all you are doing is avoiding the problem..."Until it swims up to bite you in the ass."
    • There is also a somewhat easy to miss aesop about the need to collaborate and trust others instead of acting like your way of thinking is inherently better or smarter than someone else's.
  • Alas, Poor Villain: When the shark, whom was only driven by the instinct to eat, is finally blown up to pieces, strangely sad piano music from the soundtrack is playing in the background while the shark's corpse is slowly sinking to the bottom of the sea.
  • 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 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, which makes Hooper crushing his paper cup in retaliation so much funnier. From a The Rockford Files episode broadcast the year Jaws was released: "They switched to aluminum back in 63, now anyone can be a hero."
  • Animals Not to Scale: Quint estimates the shark to be twenty-five feet long and three tons, which would make it bigger than any of the largest reliably recorded great whites ever (which were around twenty feet and two tons) and equal to the largest unreliably reported great white sharks. He also refers to it as male, but only females of the species are known to reach near these lengths.note 
  • Anti-Climax: 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, although this death does have somewhat greater literary significance.
  • Armor-Piercing Slap: The grieving Mrs. Kintner gives Brody a stinging slap when she learns that the beaches were left open despite the authorities knowing there was a man-eating shark in the area, resulting in her son's death. Even though Brody had actually been overruled by his superiors, he says nothing and accepts the blame.
  • Artistic License – History: Quint's speech about the ordeal of USS Indianapolis crew contains some of it. Possibly justified since Quint, as a common sailor, could have no admission to some details regarding their mission, which were obscure in 1975, but are easily accessible today.
    • He says that they delivered "Little Boy" atomic bomb (which was later used to nuke Hiroshima) to Tinian island. In reality, USS Indianapolis delivered nuclear components to both "Little Boy" and "Fat Man" bombs.
    • He claims that their mission was "so secret" that no distress call was dispatched when they were sunk and they were not declared overdue for a week. Actually, declassified documents prove that not only the distress call was sent, but it was even picked up three times by other American units. However, it was deemed as Japanese hoax and thus completely ignored, partly due to the secret nature of the ship's mission which created confusion. The fact that nobody noticed that Indianapolis did not reach her port of destination in scheduled time also had more to do with ordinary neglect and bureacratic chaos, rather than secrecy of her mission.
    • Quint declared that "eleven hundred men went in the water, three hundred and sixteen men come out, and the sharks took the rest". In reality, most of the Indianapolis crew died due to dehydration, exposure and wounds they already suffered at the time of ship's sinking. The share of sharks in overall death toll was overestimated over decades, adding to their unfounded notoriety (and the movie — and Quint's speech — certainly did not help)
    • He also uses the wrong date, claiming the incident occurred on the 29th of June when it was actually the 30th of July. Getting the day wrong might be justified by the fact that it was literally minutes after midnight (as in, it might have been the 29th the last time he checked before the sinking), but getting the month wrong is a fairly glaring error.
  • Artistic License – Marine Biology:
    • Sharks do not usually attack you unless you provoke them or they can smell your blood in the water. But they will attack you if you look like a seal or a turtle (this may be a case of Science Marches On, since sharks seem to act the same way towards their natural prey), which the little kids just happen to look like, but they (usually) won't eat you whole — so that's a relief. Many of these (including the shark's love of attacking humans) were from the book, and Peter Benchley admitted that at the time of writing, he knew absolutely nothing about sharks. Although, it's easy enough to Hand Wave that this is just a particularly vicious and man-eating shark, which if nothing else is certainly bigger than the average Great White. It's rare for sharks to attack humans and rarer for them to actually target humans... but that doesn't mean it's impossible, or unheard of. note 
    • Nearly all attacks in this and subsequent films have a human being grabbed and jerked straight down into the water by the unseen shark who attacks from the bottom. The problem is that sharks can't do this; sharks can't swim backwards, making it impossible for them to come up, grab hold of a swimmer's leg, and then drag them straight down. A true shark attack would see the victim bit and dragged sideways or launched into the air by a polaris breach.
    • The shark is said to be 25 feet in length. Great Whites don't grow more than 20 feet. Although it's noted to be an unusually massive (and violent) shark, so it appears to be an aberration In-Universe.
    • During the Indianapolis speech, Quint mentions that a shark rolls its eyes into its head when it bites. This is true, but at no point is the shark shown doing this.
    • The shark can be heard growling, particularly when the barrels are tied to the stern. This is impossible, as sharks do not have vocal chords.
  • Artistic License – Military: While talking on the radio with Mrs. Brody, Quint (a former U.S. Navy sailor) ends the call by saying "over and out". "Over" and "Out" are never used at the same time; "Over" expects an immediate response, and "Out" marks the end of a transmission with no answer required.
  • 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.
  • Barrier-Busting Blow: After Quint is eaten, the lone Brody ducks into the cabin of the sinking Orca to regroup. The shark suddenly bursts through the wall face first, biting away, hoping to catch the chief within its jaws. It's this moment where Brody gets the plan to finish the shark and forces the compressed air tank into its mouth.
  • Better to Die than Be Killed: "I'll never wear a life jacket again." So says Quint, who would rather drown than be eaten by a shark. He doesn't get a choice.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The shark is killed, but a bunch of people have been eaten by the shark, a child included, and due to the shark attacking out in the open during a profitable day, the town is basically doomed to going on welfare since it scared away the customers needed for the money.
  • Blatant Lies: Mrs. Brody calls to check in with her husband right as the trio has seen the shark for the first time. Brody and Hooper are distracted as it circles the boat, so Quint picks up the radio and rattles off a made up story completely contrary to what's going on, without even bothering to deviate in tone or try to sound like he's telling the truth.
    Quint: Your husband's all right, Mrs. Brody. He's fishin'. He's just caught a couple of stripers. We'll bring `em home for dinner, we won't be long, we ain't see anything yet, over and out!
  • Blood from the Mouth: Quint as he's being chowed down on.
  • Blood Is Squicker in Water: It helps the movie barely uses any red - the color mostly appears in the background, in clothing, American flags, and upholstery, among other things - so the crimson sea becomes even more disgusting/scary. This was a deliberate choice on Spielberg's part; he insisted on avoiding anything red in the costumes and scenery so that the sight of blood would be more of a shock to the audience.
  • 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.
  • Burning the Ships: In the climax, Quint destroys the radio when Brody tries to call for help, and later appears to deliberately burn out his engine so they can't escape their final confrontation with the shark.
  • Casual Danger Dialogue: Quint doesn't even bat an eye when the shark attacks the boat the first time and it knocks a lantern over on the deck.
    Quint: Chief, put out the fire, will ya?
  • Chekhov's Gun
    • Brody's accident with the scuba tank early on at sea. One loose tank ends up being responsible for both Quint's and the shark's demise.
    • Quint shooting at the shark with a rifle that Brody uses later.
    • Bit of a subversion/bait and switch example: the camera lingers on the machete Quint buries in to the Orca's rail after the cleats are pulled off. It is there for him to grab during his desperate struggle later (and he gets in a few stabs) but it really doesn't affect the outcome in the slightest.
  • Cloud Cuckoolander: Petty much everyone on Amity island with a couple Jerkass politicians mixed in, the only exceptions are Brody, his family, Hooper and a couple side characters.
  • The Coroner Doth Protest Too Much: The local authorities try to write the death that opens the movie as a "probable boating accident" instead of a shark attack. Hooper is furious when he has a chance to examine the body, as (to him) the signs of a shark attack seem obvious.
  • 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."
    • Steven Spielberg is also the voice on the radio asking for an update.
    • Screenwriter Carl Gottlieb appears as an aide to the mayor who assures Brody that there never have been shark problems in local waters.
  • Crowd Panic: On the Fourth of July, this happens with both the fake one and the real one. In the case of the latter, everyone gathers on the docks to watch as the shark kills and eats a boater, with children in the water.
  • Curse Cut Short: "Smile, you son of a [rifle firing]" [BLAM!] Only in the 5.1 and Atmos remixes though. The original mono mix has 'bitch' intact and still audible over the sound of the rifleshot.
  • 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. Hooper states the shark is a "night feeder," which is untrue in the film. Even the first attack (which appears to be at night) is actually late evening, the sun can be seen setting, but still high in the sky, blocked by a bank of clouds. Part of what makes the shark's first visible appearance so frightening is the way it just appears out of the blue, dead center of the frame, in broad daylight, in the middle of a completely normal scene. "You're gonna need a bigger boat", indeed.
  • Dead-Hand Shot: All we can see of Chrissie's remains is her hand.
  • Death of a Child: A puppy and a little boy. To top it off, the incidents in question happen within seconds of each other.
  • Deathly Dies Irae: The iconic Threatening Shark motif sometimes gains an additional note to become "dies irae," prominently heard in "The Pier Incident, usually when the shark is closing in on its intended victims. Death is coming.
  • Developing Doomed Characters: While Spielberg read the book, he found the characters so annoying that he started rooting for the shark. So in the movie he cut some subplots and developed them better so it would not fit this trope.
  • Diagonal Billing: For Scheider, Shaw, and Dreyfuss.
  • Dies Differently in Adaptation: In the novel, Quint drowns and the shark bleeds to death. Neither of these were deemed satisfactory enough for a film, so Quint gets eaten by the shark, which is blown to pieces by Brody.
  • Dirty Coward: In the first film, during the false alarm preceding the attack in the estuary, a man pushes two little children off their air mattress, and then proceeds to climb onto it to save his own ass.
  • Discreet Drink Disposal: Brody does not enjoy Quint's home brew.
  • Dissonant Serenity:
    • Quint's Indianapolis tale of watching his Navy mates eaten by sharks is horrific enough. But the sly grin playing around his face for most of the story makes it ten times more disturbing.
    • Played for laughs a few minutes later, when the shark is attacking the boat and knocks an oil lamp to the floor, starting a fire. Brody and Hooper are rushing around frantically, while Quint says, in a very calm voice, "Chief. Put out the fire, would you?". His tone of voice is the same one you'd expect from him saying "Chief. Pour me a cup of coffee, would you?"
  • Double Entendre:
    • A pretty obvious one, when Hooper is playing solitaire on the deck:
      Quint: Stop playin' with yourself, Hooper.
    • Quint makes an even more obvious one earlier, when seeing Brody (who is wearing a poncho and galoshes at the time) before they launch hug his wife says to him "I see you got your rubbers with you" and then cackles to himself.
  • The Drunken Sailor: Quint is no stranger to a bottle, and all three lead characters get drunk one night at sea.
  • Drunken Song: "Show Me the Way to Go Home" (which Spielberg said that became the Survival Mantra for the crew during the Troubled Production, and they cried as the scene of the three heroes singing it was shot).
  • Dude, Not Funny!:
    • Mrs. Taft's reaction during the town meeting when Denherder jokes if the reward money for the shark's capture comes in cash or check.
    • The mayor's reaction to the shark fin some prankster added to the "Welcome to Amity" billboard.
    • Brody has another when his deputy flippantly describes the aftermath of Denherder and Charlie's shark fishing attempt on the dock.
  • Early Instalment Weirdness: On a meta level. One of Steven Spielberg's most recurring tropes is father figures who are neglectful or completely absent at the beginning of a story. In Jaws, the protagonist Martin and his wife Ellen are shown to be Good Parents, and minor antagonist Mayor Vaughn's most humanising moment is when he admits to being scared for his children's safety.
  • Eaten Alive: While every one of the shark's victims are this, Quint is the only one explicitly shown.
  • Empty Eyes: Quint's legendary quote about sharks eyes.
    Quint: Thing about a shark is, it's got lifeless eyes. Black eyes, like a doll's eyes. It doesn't seem to be living, until it bites ya, then those black eyes roll over white, and then, ah then you hear the high pitched screamin', the ocean turns red, despite all the poundin' and hollerin', they come, and rip you to pieces.
  • Every Scar Has a Story: Quint and Hooper show off their scars and explain how they received them. This leads to Quint telling the story of the USS Indianapolis. Meanwhile, Brody surreptitiously checks his appendectomy scar, but remains quiet and sort of embarrassed, as he can't compete with the seasoned seamen. He does appear to have a few bullet-wound scars, suggesting why a New York policeman who hates being on the water might have moved to a quiet little town like Amity, but he doesn't remark on those either.
  • Eye Scream: One of the most famous (postmortem) examples in film history. When Hooper is swimming through the wreckage of the fisherman's boat, he finds evidence that the shark has been there...and out pops Ben Gardner's severed head, with one eye missing and the other floating loosely in its socket.
  • The Film of the Book: And one that overshadowed the book.
  • Fingore: What leads to Quint's death; an oxygen tanks falls on his hand, causing him to lose his grip on the now sinking Orca.
  • For Doom the Bell Tolls: Chrissie grabs on to a buoy, causing the bell to ring—her death knell.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • In his first speech, Quint forecasts his own demise.
      This shark, swallow you whole. Little shakin', little tenderizin', an' down you go.
    • Early in the film, Brody is flipping through a book about sharks. One of the pics shows a great white with an oxygen tank in its mouth. That's how he kills the shark in the end.
    • Ellen Brody comes across an illustration of a shark attacking and damaging a small wooden boat. This foreshadows the shark attacking and damaging the Orca, and later returning to finish the job.
    • We later find the remains of Ben Gardner's boat, torn to pieces, the crew all dead, and bites taken out of the boat itself. The same thing happens to the Orca.
    • A lot of what Quint said foreshadows his own death. When he sings Farewell and Adieu to You Ladies of Spain the first time, it's in response to seeing Hooper's anti-shark cage, and he ends it after the second stanza, where the lyrics mentions never seeing you again. The last time Quint sees Hooper is as he's being lowered into the water in the shark cage.
    • Hooper is warned twice that his shark-proof cage is no match for this shark, first by Quint when they are preparing to leave Amity:
      Quint: Anti-shark cage? You go inside the cage? (Hooper nods) Cage goes in water, you go in the water. Shark's in the water. Our shark? Farewell and adieu...
    • Then by Brody, right before preparing the cage:
      Brody: That shark will rip that cage to pieces!
      Hooper: You got any better suggestions!?
    • The film makes a point of showing how hard it is to secure the oxygen tanks, mostly due to their bulk and weight, and that they tend to shift during an unexpected movement of the ship. Sure enough, during the climax the oxygen tank rolls onto Quint's hand, crushing it and forcing him to let go of his handhold at the worst possible moment.
    • The mayor mentions yelling "shark" on a crowded beach would just lead to a panic. He's only trying to cover up the shark attacks, but he's proven right. Two boys play a prank with a fake shark fin that scares everyone out of the water and distracts everyone from the real shark sneaking into the estuary.
  • A Friend in Need: Michael's friends save him when he goes into shock after the shark eats the boater. They really are good guys.
  • Gargle Blaster: Quint's home brew hooch, judging from Brody's reaction to tasting it.
  • Gonna Need More X: 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.
  • Gory Discretion Shot:
    • Hooper's narration of Chrissie's body is a classic, letting our minds do all the work as we never see the body. It also applies when Chrissie's remains are first discovered on the beach. We only see her hand, but what Hendricks, Cassidy, and Brody see is enough to make them all dry heave. During Cooper's autopsy he's visibly disgusted as well.
    • The actual attack on Chrissie counts. As horrific as the scene is, it takes place at dusk and is filmed entirely from above the water, sparing us from seeing any dismemberment and blood in the water.
    • Averted with the killing of Alex Kintner, with the camera seemingly capturing every blood spray. Quint's death is even worse.
  • Half Empty Two Shot: Our first good look at the shark comes as Brody is chumming the waters behind the boat, with the shark popping up out of the water behind him.
  • Half the Man He Used to Be:
    • During his recollection of events from the sinking of the USS Indianapolis, Quint notes how one morning he found his friend missing everything from the waist down.
    • There isn't much left of poor Chrissie, either.
  • Harpoon Gun: How else they're gonna attach those barrels on the shark?
  • Hazardous Water: There's a killer shark. And the last third is in deep sea to make it more dangerous.
  • Heroic Bystander: So many ordinary people act in the face of a crisis.
    • During the second shark attack, all of the parents start pulling their kids and any other swimmers out of the water. As a result, Alex and Pippet are the only casualties.
    • The same happens when the shark attacks on the Fourth of July. One woman shouts in alarm and points at the fin heading towards in the pond, notifying Brody to act when he realizes Michael and his friends are there. One boater yells at the boys to reel in their boat, before the shark attacks him. He probably saved their lives with the warning. People get out of the water and drag anyone else who's in shock with them to safety. Brody takes charge, but it's his sons' friends who ultimately get Michael out of the water. They could have left him behind but instead got him out.
  • Hollywood Darkness:
    • Denherder's and Charlie's attempt to capture the shark.
    • Chrissie's Skinny Dipping scene during the beginning was filmed at day, and a blue filter was added to make it look like dusk.
  • Hollywood New England: Changed from Long Island, New York in the novel. Location shooting was done on Martha's Vineyard in Massachusetts.
  • Hope Spot:
    • As Chrissie thrashes around, she manages to grab onto a buoy. Judging from her evident relief, the shark apparently lets go of her at this point — only to immediately grab hold of her again and finish her off.
    • During Quint's Indianapolis speech, he mentions being the most frightened when the survivors started getting picked up.
    • When they have the shark snagged with two barrels and are dragging it back to shore, it looks as if they have the upper hand... until the shark starts pulling loose the railing the lines are tied to.
  • Horror Doesn't Settle for Simple Tuesday: Jaws is set around the Fourth of July.
  • The Hunter Becomes the Hunted: Provides a perfect example as Brody, Hooper and Quint set out together to hunt down the killer shark...only for the tables to turn when they don't have the means to beat this shark that defies everything they throw at it as it changes the hunt into a quest to survive.
  • 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. Although, to be fair, in the latter case it did take him 6 shots to hit the scuba tank.
    • Plus, the shark was coming straight at him, and getting closer all the time.
  • Inconveniently Vanishing Exonerating Evidence: Hooper accidentally drops the shark tooth that would have proven the existence of the Great White to the mayor.
  • Instant-Win Condition: Part of the suspense during the final duel between the shark and Brody is that it's an automatic win for the shark as soon as the Orca completely sinks; Brody nails the shot on the scuba tank just in time.
  • Irony: After the shark leaps onto the stern of the Orca, Quint loses his grip and slides to his death when a scuba tank rolls onto his hand. The same scuba tank that Brody then uses to kill the shark.
  • "Jaws" First-Person Perspective: The Trope Namer.
  • Jerkass: The majority of Amity. Mayor Vaughn and the local business owners especially, they are clearly more concerned about loosing money/business than peoples lives and they attempt to ignore and cover up the attacks rather than risk bad publicity.
  • 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: It is strongly implied that Pippet the dog becomes one of the shark's victims — 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.
  • Kill the Lights: During the shark's night time attack on the boat the power supply goes off, leaving the crew in darkness.
    Hooper: He ate the light.
  • Leitmotif:
    • The Shark Theme... Dun dun, dun dun...
    • In the extras on the DVD, Spielberg talks about getting an excited call from John Williams, wanting to demonstrate said Leitmotif. Cue John Williams playing that incredibly basic two-note dun dun... dun dun... on his piano. The director remarks wryly, "Johnny always had a great sense of humor. I thought he was joking." It apparently took some time before it really sank in that yes, just those two notes would do it.
    • Quint sings "Ladies of Spain", and the tune repeats in the background as his stubborn insanity drives them further into peril. The first two times Quint sings it are after talking about shark attacks (mocking Hooper about the cage and the story about the Indianapolis). The third time he sings it is as he speeds the boat to shore in a desperate attempt to drown the shark, knowing that the engine will most likely burn out before that and leave them stranded and helpless on a sinking boat. It is heard a fourth time, incorporated into the soundtrack, played after the Orca is immobilized and Quint goes below to inspect the damage. It ends on a sour note when his eyes rest on a pair of soaked life preservers hanging on their hooks.
  • Let's Get Dangerous!: Hooper spends most of his time on the Orca dealing with Quint's abuse, driving the ship, and trying to study the shark in between tying knots and playing Solitaire. But when the chips are down and his poison injector appears to be their only remaining option, he immediately acquiesces to going down into the cage, even though Brody insists the shark will tear it to pieces.
    Hooper: You got any better suggestions!?
  • Looking a Miffed Animal in the Mouth: The famous scene where a bored, mildly annoyed Chief Brody is tossing chum into the ocean, only for the shark to leap up from the water, mouth open.
  • Meaningful Name: Quint's vessel, the Orca. Orcas, a.k.a. killer whales (yes, the intelligent creatures we see performing at Sea World), are the only natural predators of sharks in the wild, and substantial documentary evidence can confirm that orcas occasionally go shark hunting themselves. And they do it in packs, just like the three humans on Quint's boat.
    • Quint is the shark's fifth victim.
  • Moby Schtick: Of course, with Quint as an Ahab stand-in.
  • Mood Whiplash: Between comedy and horror, done expertly.
    • Chrissie's grisly death scene is intercut with shots of the guy she was going to go skinny-dipping with acting clumsy and then falling asleep on the shore.
    • Back and forth after Quint's Sudden Morbid Monologue. To lighten the mood, Hooper starts singing "Show Me the Way to Go Home," and soon all three are in a drunken, hand-banging singalong. Then the barrel breaches the surface again, and ominous thumps start sounding in the Orca and parts of the hull start bowing in. . .
    • A classic example when we get our first good look at the shark. Brody is muttering to himself while irritably tossing chum overboard, not expecting anything to happen...then BAM, there's the shark. Especially effective because every previous shark attack has been heralded by the iconic theme music, this one pops up with no warning whatsoever.
      Brody: (under his breath) "Slow ahead." I can go slow ahead! Come down and chum some of this shit! (the shark suddenly appears over Brody's shoulder, smack dab in the middle of the frame)
  • Musical Pastiche: "Ladies of Spain" for Quint.
  • Musical Spoiler: The shark's theme (i.e. the one that got caught has no music). At times it's subverted, with the shark appearing without any musical indication.
  • Nails on a Blackboard: Quint, making his legendary entrance.
  • Never My Fault: When two hoaxers with a fake shark fin are surrounded by the heavily-armed anti-shark patrol, one immediately points at the other and blubbers, "He talked me into it!"
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: When Hooper and Brody realize that the shark is still in the water, Hooper takes a protesting Brody to find it on his boat. They find the remains of Ben Gardner's fishing boat, and Brody points out they could just tow it in and examine it on the safety of land for proof. Hooper insists on diving under to find evidence of the shark; he finds a Great White tooth lodged in the remains. Unfortunately, seeing Ben Gardner's corpse makes him drop it as well as his flashlight and the Mayor is skeptical when they tell him the next day. If he had listened to Brody, the tooth would have remained in the boatnote .
  • Night Swim = Death: The Skinny Dipping in the opening scene may be the Trope Codifier.
  • Non-Indicative Title: To the point that when Spielberg saw the unfinished book, he imagined if it was about dentists. Many countries went for "Shark" or some variations instead (Tiburón, Tubarão, Lo Squalo, "The White Shark" in German, "The Jaws of the Shark" in Greek), if not a Completely Different Title: in French it's Les Dents de la mer, "The Teeth of the Sea". Amusingly enough, in Finnish it's "Tappajahai", literally: "The Killer Shark."
  • Noodle Incident: It's not clear whether Brody's fear of the ocean is based on a specific incident. He brusquely responds to his wife's attempt to name his condition with "Drowning!"
  • 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. It also kept breaking down, which resulted in lots of shots in the movie that imply the presence of the shark, without showing so much as a fin. 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 a day capturing.
    • 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.
  • Not-So-Omniscient Council of Bickering: The town hall meeting about the shark problem quickly degrades into bickering motivated, cut short by Quint stealing the floor with his entrance.
  • Obscured Special Effects: The mechanical shark was used sparingly, not so much because it was unconvincing, but because it was malfunctioning all the time. Therefore, Spielberg cut out the parts where the shark was constantly malfunctioning. This decision helped rack up the suspense, making the film all the more effective.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • Hooper, when he realizes his "bite radius" theory is about to get his ass kicked by the surly Amity fishermen.
    • "You're gonna need a bigger boat."
    • Hooper in the cage after the shark has slammed into it once and is coming back a second time. Despite being underwater with a respirator in his mouth, you can hear him scream in terror.
    • Quint has a mild version of this after the shark submerges with three barrels on at once, followed by a much stronger version a few hours later when he walks into his water-logged cabin and realizes that he's on a sinking boat with a burned-out engine.
    • Brody and Quint when they crank up Hooper's crushed empty shark cage. Not only are they upset by his (falsely presumed) death, they're also thinking that Hooper's poisonous "shark dart" syringe was their last plausible chance at killing the shark before the boat sinks.
  • One-Word Title: Jaws
    • In Brazil and Mexico the title was Shark.
  • Parting Words Regret:
    • The last thing that Chrissie's suitor says to her is, "I'm coming, I'm coming," being too drunk to respond to her cries for help. When he's called later to identify her body, he has a horrified, grieving expression on his face that he wasn't able to pull her out of the water.
    • Defied on the fourth of July; Sean tells Michael, his older brother, that he hates him when Michael refuses to let him come on the sailboat with his friends. Then the shark goes into the pond, where Michael gets knocked into the water. While his friends get Michael out, Sean is sobbing Tears of Remorse on the beach.
  • Peek-a-Boo Corpse: When Hooper searches under the wrecked boat for Ben Gardner, his severed head (which is missing an eye) suddenly shows up, not only terrifying Hooper but creating one of the most effective Jump Scares in film history.
  • Plot-Driven Breakdown: Quint has his boat on overdrive causing the engine to blow up and rendering the three main characters at the mercy of the shark on the open sea.
  • Premiseville: Amity Island, which is friendly when sharks aren't lurking.
  • Precision F-Strike: 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.
    Hooper: I think that I am familiar with the fact that you are going to ignore this particular problem until it swims up and bites you on the ass!
  • 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'.
  • The Radio Dies First: Quint sabotages the radio when Brody tries to contact Amity for help.
  • Rated M for Manly: Specially the third act, which is about three manly guys hunting a deadly beast, while also doing other manly things such as drinking and comparing scars.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: The constant problems with the mechanical shark props resulted in using the barrel floats to indicate the presence of the underwater shark instead, since otherwise a lot of expensive production time would have gone to waste waiting around. As Spielberg later admitted, the "barrels=shark" gimmick actually proved more effective, since it gave the shark's appearances that much more impact, and Nothing Is Scarier...
    • A minor example is the town of Martha's Vineyard's constant nagging of the production company, to the point they almost weren't allowed to build the set for Quint's house. This resulted in one of his demands to Brody:
      Quint: And get the Mayor off my back, I don't want any more of this zoning crap!
  • Recurring Extra: Quint is often accompanied by a silent, shorter man with a checkered jacket, orange hat and a dog on the leash, who helps load up the Orca but doesn't accompany its voyage.
  • Room Full of Crazy: Quint's shack is a rare heroic version: The walls are lined with the jaws of the countless sharks he has killed. Doubling as a Trophy Room, the shack displays Quint's obsessive insanity and lust for vengeance against all sharks.
  • R-Rated Opening: Chrissie's skinny dipping opening. Spielberg said they barely avoided an X rated opening, since they shot her completely nude from below.
  • 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.
    • Richard Dreyfuss recalls that he first heard about Jaws at a party, overhearing someone (possibly Spielberg) talking about how to achieve that exact shot. He also recalls thinking something along the lines of "Good luck with that!". Spielberg has said that the last few minutes of the movie were a case of "If they've come this far with me, they'll go the last mile."
  • Scare Chord: A classic example. The score spikes with a horrific shriek when Hooper's flashlight picks up Ben Gardner's one-eyed floating head.
  • Self-Plagiarism: 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.
  • Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: Brody snaps when Quint destroys the radio before they can call for help. Smashing the baseball bat on the destroyed radio he condemns Quint for being "certifiable" rather than calling him a more common term such as "crazy" or "insane."
  • Sexy Discretion Shot: Chrissie goes swimming naked, but it's hard to see the naughty bits because of how dark it is.
  • Shark Fin of Doom:
    • While the armed men are patrolling the beach watching for the shark, a fin appears in the water, and people panic and flee the water. When the men in the boats approach the fin, it turns out to be kids with a fake fin pretending to be a shark.
    • At other times in the movie, the real shark's presence is revealed by its fin appearing, such as when it attacks the boats in the estuary/pond and while Brody, Hooper and Quint are out on the ocean hunting it.
  • Shoot the Fuel Tank: The air tank would not blow up when shot, but Spielberg insisted on this as he felt a "big rousing ending" was necessary.
  • Shout-Out:
    • At one point, Hooper does brief Robert Newton and W. C. Fields imitations.
    • A subtle homage to The Searchers: Deputy Hendricks digging in the sand with his knife after finding Chrissy's remains.
    • Multiple shots are very similar to ones found in Creature from the Black Lagoon, such as the underwater monster viewpoint of a woman swimming on the surface of the water, as well as the fact that early on in both films we barely glimpse the monster at all.
    • "Farewell Spanish Ladies" is also sung in Moby-Dick, just as the crew have found out that they're hunting the white whale.
  • Signature Line: This film has two:
    • The oft-misquoted "You're gonna need a bigger boat," when the shark is first visible.
    • Almost everyone knows the famous Pre-Mortem One-Liner: "Smile, you son of a B[BANG]CH!"
  • Skewed Priorities: After the Fourth of July attack, Brody sees the mayor muttering about saving August for the tourists. He calls out Vaugh for caring more about the tourist revenue than about getting rid of the shark. This backfires on Vaughn and he eventually agrees without protest to hire Quint.
  • Sorting Algorithm of Mortality: Ground up and fed to the shark. Part of what makes the film so scary, even compared to films that have double or triple the body count, is how utterly merciless the shark's kills are not just in how many people it kills, but in who it kills. Hardened horror fans can watch this movie for the first time and be completely wrong about who's going to die and how. The very first victims are, in order, a beautiful lady, a dog, and a child. Twenty minutes into the movie, the audience knows that absolutely all bets are off when it comes to who's going to get eaten. While the hardened shark hunter does die, he's the very last victim, and the slimy town mayor survives.
  • Skinny Dipping: Chrissy picked the very worst time for it.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: When the shark's mangled remains sink to the bottom, the soundtrack momentarily turns from triumphant to gentle and somber, almost mournful.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: Matt Hooper dies in the cage in the novel; however, after one of the sharks being filmednote  destroyed the prop cage before that scene was to be shot, Spielberg & crew decide to use the footage and allow Hooper to live.
  • Staggered Zoom: An interesting use of this trope right before Alex Kintner gets eaten. Roy Scheider is framed in a medium shot. Twice passersby obscure the camera, and each time Scheider is closer when the camera reveals him again. This is done not for any dramatic effect — that comes with the famous Vertigo Effect a couple minutes later — but to demonstrate Martin's feeling of unease as he watches the beach.
  • Stealth Pun: Dressed for her son's funeral, Mrs. Kintner comes to Brody with her grievance (about how unjust it was for him to let the people swim knowing the killer shark was out there).
  • Suddenly Sober:
    • Hooper, right after Quint mentions the Indianapolis.
    • All three of them once they realize the shark is attacking the boat.
  • Sudden Morbid Monologue: Hooper and Quint go from laughing and comparing scars to Quint's tale about the Indianapolis. Hooper takes a second to realize that the mood has changed, and then the smile disappears from his face.
  • Summer Blockbuster: The first, with A New Hope defining it two years later. Not counting for inflation, in which case it would go to Gone with the Wind, Jaws was the first film to break the $100 million mark at the box office.
  • Tagline: "Don't go in the water."
  • Take My Hand!: Charlie drags Denherder from the water onto the dock this way when the shark is about to snatch the latter.
  • Take That!: To the town of Martha's Vineyard, which, in the name of preserving its value as a tourist spot, insisted that the production not make a single change that wasn't taken down by the end of the day (for instance, the "Welcome to Amity" billboard had to be built, all the filming done, and then immediately torn down again). The producers had to put up a bond ensuring the set for Quint's house would be taken down, and furthermore get a variance because part of it would be built below the mean water line. Thus, Quint's line while haggling with Brody:
    Quint: And get the Mayor off my back, I don't want any more of this zoning crap!
  • Tempting Fate: Complaining about a job being boring turns out to not be so boring.
    Brody: "Slow ahead." I can go slow ahead. Come on down here and chum some of this shit. (cue shark)
  • Those Two Guys:
    • Felix and Pratt, the two yo-yos who catch the tiger shark. Their actors, Henry Carreiro and Dick Young, were almost as funny as their characters; Young stated that a local reporter said to casting director Shari Rhodes that she had an Abbott and Costello pair, and she replied, "No, I just have two Costellos."
    • Charlie and Denherder, the two men who try to catch the shark off a dock using a pot roast as bait.
  • Two-Act Structure: The first half of the movie takes place on Amity Island as it's being terrorized by the shark's attacks; the second half is three characters: Brody, Hooper and Quint going out to sea to hunt the shark on Quint's boat, the "Orca".
  • Vertigo Effect: Chief Brody's reaction to seeing the Kintner boy being attacked by the shark. Hitchcock might have invented it, but Spielberg's flawless use of the technique here is why everyone recognizes it today.
  • 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.
  • Wham Line:
    • "Michael's in the pond." Brody was prepared to ignore a woman screaming there's a shark in the pond until his wife reminds him that their son is in there. Then Brody goes Oh, Crap! and starts running.
    • In-universe, the realization that Quint was on the Indianapolis forces Hooper to completely re-evaluate him.
    • After the shark has gone under with three barrels (which Quint insisted it couldn't do), the three men just stand about for a few moments on deck, obviously unsure what to do next. Then Quint, who has spent nearly the entire movie trash talking 'the college kid' and ignoring his advice, walks quietly over to Hooper's equipment and picks it up.
      Quint: Hooper, what exactly can you do with these things of yours?
  • Wham Shot: The chumming scene is the first clear shot of the shark.
    Brody: ... you're gonna need a bigger boat.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Ben Gardner has a mate with him during the shark hunting scene. It's unknown if the man was aboard his ship when the shark sunk it and killed Gardner, although Brody and Hopper's claim that the shark has killed two people in a week -namely Alex and Gardner- likely means either the mate survived or they Never Found the Body.
  • Widow's Weeds: Mrs. Kitner is wearing a black veil to show she is in mourning for her son.
  • Your Head Asplode: How the shark meets its end, with the ruptured air tank in its mouth exploding and blowing its head (and a fair amount of its upper body) apart.

Brody: I used to hate the water.
Hooper: Heh. I can't imagine why.

 
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Gonna need a bigger boat

The original scene that started the trope in Jaws.

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