A Sociological Look At Jaws Essay, Research Paper
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 erupting all around Hooper asks to see the first victim. In studying the victim Hooper discovers that she definitely did not have a boating accident and that it was a shark much larger than any he has seen before. Down at the docks someone does manage I to reel in an impressive sized tiger shark. While everyone is giving out pats on the back Hooper is the one that finds out that the wrong shark has been caught. He states that while this species has attacked humans and is foreign to these waters the bite radius doesn’t match up to the first victim.
Being an outsider no one is inclined to listen to Hooper. To proven his point Hooper and Brody sneak down to the docks to cut open the shark. Among many strange findings none are human remains. This piques Hooper’s curiosity and he drags Brody (who is afraid of boats and water) out on his boat to see what they can find in the waters surrounding the island. They come across a boat wreck and upon closer inspection they discover that the wreck is the work of the sought after shark.
With the evidence they’ve uncovered Hooper and Brody go to the Mayor and demand he shut down the beaches. With no physical evidence that the wrong shark has been caught the Mayor decides to open the beaches for the 4th of July.
The 4th of July is a bright and sunny day but no one is going in the water. The Mayor, fearing the worst, coaxes on of his friends to make the first move and go for a swim. In no time everyone is in the water enjoying their 4th of July.
By this time Sheriff Brody’s summer help has arrived and he’s got every man he can spare on the water looking for the shark. When a commotion erupts over a phony shark sighting there is an attack in a pond that opens up to the sea. A man is attacked and killed with the Chief’s son not 40 yards away in his own boat with some friends. Brody’s son is dragged out of the water and rushed to the hospital and treated for shock. With an attack hit so close to home the Mayor who seems to be shell-shocked agrees to sign the forms to pay Quint what ever it takes to catch the shark. This brings together our troop of heroes Quint, Hooper, and Brody. They set off in Quint’s boat, the Orca, to hunt down and catch the shark on the open ocean.
As they are loading the boat Quint is giving Hooper grief. “Working class hero crap” as Hooper puts it and you can see almost right away that Brody will become a mediator between the two. They soon set off with Quint as Captain, Hooper as first mate and Brody as a deck hand of sorts.
As the hunt pursues you can see that the closer they get to capturing the shark the closer they become to each other. The real turning point is when the three are up late one-night swapping shark stories and drinks and the shark attacks the boat. The attack leaves their motor handicapped and they most ban together and work harder to bring in the shark. The next day while trying to draw the shark closer inland Quint pushes the motor over the edge and it finally breaks down. Left stranded on the open ocean the decision is made to send Hooper in to the water in a shark cage in hopes of getting him close enough that he can inject the shark with poison and kill it.
While Hooper is in the cage he is attacked and the cage destroyed but Hooper escapes and hides behind a coral reef. Quint and Brody not knowing Hooper has escaped bring up the cage and assume the worst. Their thoughts of Hooper are soon put on hold when the shark comes out of the water and on to the back of the boat. With the rear weighted down by the shark Quint looses his grip and slides to his doom right into the shark’s awaiting mouth. With this the shark slides back into the depths.
Brody begins to panic and starts to think of what he needs to do next. He finds himself trapped inside the boat’s cabin as it’s going down. Just when things couldn’t get any worse the shark crashes in through the window. Thinking quickly Brody shoves a tank of compressed air in the shark’s mouth and succeeds in fighting it off.
At this point the ship is almost completely submerged and Brody scrambles to get as high out of the water as he can. He finds his way to the crow’s nest with a rifle he has found onboard and as the shark makes a final pass Brody manages to shoot the tank of compressed air and blow it and the shark to pieces.
As Brody rejoices and breathes a sigh of relief Hooper surfaces and the two begin their swim back to shore on a makeshift raft.
The groups that present themselves in this movie are great for psychological examples. We begin with the island itself and the inhabitants. I think that being an island that automatically unites them but the fact that the island is a seasonal attraction brings them all together to achieve a common goal, which is and based on the tourist business. I believe that Amity Island is a great example of a hybrid between primary and organizational groups.
The relationship between the Mayor and Sheriff Brody isn’t very strong right off the bat. Even though Brody has just moved to the island and this is his first summer he can see right through the mayor. Their utilitarian relationship evident through out the first half of the movie.
The bond that is created between Hooper and Brody is a strong brotherly one that begins almost immediately. Between Brody’s desperation for, not only help but also for some one to be able to grasp the situation he is in combined with the excitement and enthusiasm of Hooper is what makes the 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.