Kirkcaldy Film Festival - Jaws still has fear factor at 40

Jaws'Kirkcaldy Film Festival 2015
Jaws'Kirkcaldy Film Festival 2015

Forty years on and Jaws still has the ability to make you jump in fright ... and make you think twice about going into the water.

I was a kid of 11 when the film first came out and saw it at the Odeon in Edinburgh.

The place was packed out - the ‘house full’ signs were a daily occurrence such was the buzz about this movie.

Then came that scene - the one where a head bobbles out of a sunken boat just as Richard Dreyfuss swims in for a closer inspection. I swear the entire audience shrieked at that very heart-stopping moment, and boxes of popcorn flew into the air as we jumped.

Forty years on it remains a powerful memory from a movie which genuinely scared us to bits AND entertained at the same time. A generation of kids grew up knowing the shiver which came every time we heard that menacing two-note theme tune.

That’s why it remains a masterpiece 40 years on - and that’s why its’ special screening on the waterfront sold out within days.

It’s easy to forget the problems which beset filming or the fact it ran hopelessly over budget, but, out of that, a young and inexperienced but wonderfully talented Steven Speilberg delivered a horror movie which was as good as anything Hitchock ever made.

By keeping the giant man-eating shark off the screen, giving us just a glimpse of a fin, for so long, he preyed on our fears of the unknown predator lurking beneath the water’s surface.

And he brought that tension ashore as the mayor refuses to close the beach at the start of the lucrative summer season and literally shoves folk on to the sand one by one.

The story behind the hunt for the shark is superbly told, and many of the scenes have gone down in cinematic folklore, none more so than Roy Schneider’s glorious ad lib ‘’we’re gonna need a bigger boat’’ after his first up-close encounter with the killer.

It doesn’t matter how often you see it, Jaws is a sheer joy to watch.

It set the standard for everyone else to follow, and, 40 years on, we have a chance to enjoy it on the big screen as the waves lap up to the sea wall.

And if you happen to see a fin gliding past on the horizon, remember, it may still not be safe to back into the water...

Kirkcaldy Film Festival 2015

Jaws: 40th anniversary screening - the waterfront, Esplanade Sold out

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