Inspired by my post last week, I’ve decided to make The Cinephiliac Moment a weekly series in which I choose a moment in a film where cinema reaches transcendence. This moment may be inspired by anything – the composition, the score, the edit, the narrative – but it is a moment in which cinema becomes something more than entertainment and possibly more than art. Read more about the original inspiration to the project here.
Jaws is considered one of the great horror movies of cinema, as it features an unstoppable horrifying monster that seems unstoppable, even if it is not on screen until the final act of the film. But Steven Spielberg does not treat this creature as a monster necessarily. He seems both in shock and awe of the titular animal. No moment represents this more than just after the shark has been blown to smithereens. As the carcass sinks to the bottom of the ocean, blood pouring out, there’s a sense of wonder to the majesty of this creature. John Williams’s score, full of light notes trickling down a harp (and perhaps my spine) suggests not relief, but magic. Where did this creature come from? Should we fear the unknown, or should we confront it? As Kevin B. Lee described in his video essay on the “Spielberg Face,” the director is fascinated by the spectator’s ability to comprehend awe. And for a film that has made us to terrified of the water, Jaws also suggests the magic of monsters. We may want to scream, but we also stand powerless to comprehend their magnificence.
Watch the clip below: