19. Jaws

4 Jul


dir. Steven Spielberg

While many films on this list have noted effects on cinema history and technique, Jaws transcends the medium of film and has impacted not only popular culture but our lives. It strikes at the chord of a carnal fear that’s within all of us, and it has never let go of it. How many times have you gone to the beach or have been on a boat and have contemplated with a sense of dread at what may be under the surface? You can thank Jaws for that. While it may not have explicitly put the fear and thought into your head, it has intensified it. You can hear John Williams’ rhythmic and imposing score in your mind. You visualize a single fin protruding from the water. In the long and prolific career of Steven Spielberg, there’s a reason why his breakout film is still considered his best, and its effects on the medium and in our lives will continue to be felt for decades to come.

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