Despite being a lifelong cinephile I had never seen Steven Spielberg’s Jaws (1975) before today. I was surprised to find that it was playing at the Museum of Modern Art and the Brooklyn Academy of Music and the IFC Center and the Nitehawk Cinema all this weekend. Now that I’ve seen it (a screening at MoMA), I know why: it takes place on the weekend of the Fourth of July. That element of the plot plus heart-pounding action scenes (special thanks to editor Verna Fields), killer animals and the tendencies of characters to disregard rules (with ensuing panic, of course) all make Jaws a distinctly American classic. Besides, the narrative has a certain kind of paranoia that was often a part of American films of the 1970s.
If you’ve never seen Jaws on the big screen, you’re missing out on a widescreen classic and one that’s perfect for a summer day. Unfortunately it was rainy and windy today in New York (the tail end of Hurricane Arthur) so it wasn’t the ideal July 4, but still it was super exciting to finally see Jaws and at the exact right time for when the movie is set.
Happy Independence Day, everyone!