You'll never look at classic Jaws beach scene same way again after watching this video breakdown

Jaws celebrates 40 year anniversary

Celebrate Jaws' 40 year anniversary by watching some of the best videos on the film you can watch online

Saturday 20 June marks 40 years since Steven Spielberg’s Jaws changed the way we view summer, and not just by making us scared shitless of going swimming. It couldn’t be more apt that a direct descendent of Jaws just broke opening weekend box office records – that of course being the $524.4 million worldwide that Jurassic World just devoured.

Back in 1975, Hollywood had yet to establish a business model for raking in this kind of insane money but everything about Jaws is what you would call the modern blueprint for success: action, adventure, high-concept premise, released in summer with huge piles of cash dropped on advertising. Course, it doesn’t always work, just ask Tomorrowland.

Jaws went wide on release with a national campaign, opening in 409 US theatres and taking $7 million in its opening three days. By day 59 it was playing in 954 screens and had reached $100 million in box office takings – equivalent to $434 million in today's money.

Aside its place in the history of the movie industry as a business, Jaws remains one of the greatest thrillers ever made. Dripping in taut suspense, brilliant exploitation of people’s fear of the water, that incredible John Williams score, the wonderful interplay between Roy Scheider as Chief Brody, Robert Shaw as shark hunter Quint and Richard Dreyfuss as oceanographer Matt Hooper, and, of course, Bruce the mechanical shark, fortuitously kept mostly off screen due to his notorious technical issues. What cannot be overstated, however, is that Spielberg's second theatrical release marked the arrival of the most influential figure of the modern era in filmmaking.

We could go on and on, but there’s plenty out there for you to read about how great it is, no so much for you to watch. So we'd like to bring to your attention a couple of great video essays on Jaws. First up, Julian Palmer’s ‘The Discarded Image’, launched with this recently released analysis of the beach scene in Jaws. Once you’ve watched, you’ll never look at it the same way again. It is truly masterful, as Palmer notes:

‘Hitchcock apparently once said, “young Spielberg is the first one of us who doesn’t see the proscenium arch”. He has such a nimble way of orchestrating the camera, he has the structural precision of Hitchcock, with the added gift of making the images breathe more organically.’

If you’ve got a little more time to spare and want to get really into detail about signature filmmaking traits of Spielberg that can be found in Jaws, Antonios Papantoniou has this breakdown of nine scenes, shot by shot, which exemplify his skill in tracking shots, blocking changes, frame within frames and other techniques that a generation of filmmakers have copied.


  • 5 stars
  • 1975
  • US
  • 2h 5min
  • 12A
  • Directed by: Steven Spielberg
  • Cast: Roy Scheider, Robert Shaw, Richard Dreyfuss, Lorraine Gary, Murray Hamilton
  • UK release: 26 December 1975

When a killer shark unleashes chaos on a beach town, it's up to a local sheriff, a marine biologist, and an old seafarer to hunt the beast.