The White shark

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
German title The White shark
Original title Jaws
Country of production USA
original language English
Publishing year 1975
length 124 minutes
Age rating FSK 16
Director Steven Spielberg
script Peter Benchley
Carl Gottlieb
production David Brown
Richard D. Zanuck
for Universal Pictures
music John Williams
camera Bill Butler
cut Verna Fields

Successor  →
Jaws 2

Jaws (including Jaws , English Jaws , literally "pine" or as a zoological term for predators "mouth") is an American thriller from 1975, which under the direction of Steven Spielberg was filmed. This film is based on the novel of the same name by Peter Benchley , who processed the shark attacks of July 1916 in it . Together with Star Wars, which appeared two years later , the film ushered in the era of blockbuster cinema in Hollywood and is still considered one of the best thrillers to this day. It also caused a boom in the animal horror genre and, in addition to the official sequels, resulted in numerous other shark film productions .


After a swimmer was killed by a shark attack in the seaside resort of Amity, Police Chief Martin Brody urges the beaches to be closed. The city council wants to prevent this from happening, fearing rumors of a man-eating shark could harm tourism, especially as Amity's bathing season is approaching July 4th with the US Independence Day and local businesses and hoteliers rely on tourists.

When another swimmer was killed with a boy and his mother caused a sensation in the local media, the city administration called an emergency meeting in the city hall. Brody explains his plans to secure the bathers: additional shark scouts, the involvement of Matt Hooper from the Oceanographic Institute and, above all, the closing of the bathing beaches. When it comes here to protests among those present, the local shark hunter Quint offers, the shark for 10,000 dollars to kill, after which the city councils, however, initially unable to agree.

The mother of the boy who was killed offered a killing bonus of $ 3,000, which resulted in a downright hunt for sharks. After a short time, a shark killed by Ben Gardner is presented as the wanted "killer shark". Upon closer inspection, however, Hooper found that the bite radius was larger on the wounds of the killed victims. Since the mayor forbids a closer investigation, Hooper and Brody sneak alone to the quay at night to cut open the shark laid out there. In its stomach contents, however, they find no evidence of a killed person, which confirms the assumption that the shark they are looking for is still alive.

At night the two of them search the area for the shark with Hooper's boat and find Gardner's boat floating in the sea, demolished. Hooper dives under the boat to examine it, and finds Gardner's eaten body there. They are returning to Amity to prevent the mayor from opening the beaches tomorrow, July 4th, as the shark is apparently still active.

The next day, despite all the warnings, Amity's bathing beaches are opened under considerable safety precautions. After initial hesitation, many bathers decide to go swimming. A short time later, the shark scouts report a shark fin and a mass panic ensues among the bathers, in which people are also injured. However, it turns out it was a prank by two children with a fake shark fin. As the situation calmed down, the appearance of a shark fin was reported again from a small bay near the beach. Although Brody initially suspects hysteria, he investigates, even as his eldest son Michael is on a boat with other children in the bay. This time it's the real shark, and a rower who wants to help the children is attacked and killed while the other bathers can save themselves on the bank. The authorities are now forced to act. At Brody's insistence, the experienced shark hunter Quint accepts the offer to kill the shark.

With the marine biologist Hooper, who only wants to research the shark, and with Brody, Quint sets out to track down and kill the shark. On the first day, the three men distribute fish waste to attract the shark. Something is biting the hook of a fishing rod, but the line, a particularly stable piano string, is bitten through shortly before it is retrieved. The next day they see the shark for the first time: it is a great white shark , significantly larger than the one Gardner caught. Quint harpooned him in the traditional way, with air-filled barrels attached to the end of the rope to prevent the shark from diving and thus tire him. However, the shark proves to be unusually strong and persistent. He pulls the boat out to sea and attacks it every now and then. Quint, a former Marine - war veteran who the sinking of the USS Indianapolis survived and had to watch drifting up to his rescue in the water as his comrades were attacked by sharks is obsessed with hunting fever and loads the engine of his boat to the limits. Brody tries to call for help over the radio, but Quint destroys the radio.

When the boat breaks down with the engine damaged, Hooper is lowered into the water in a shark cage, from where he can kill the shark with a harpoon. Instead, the shark destroys the cage. Hooper can escape at the last second and hide underwater. In the meantime, the shark's attacks have left the boat deeper in the water. Suddenly he jumps out of the water and lands on the stern of the boat. This tilts backwards and, after Brody tries in vain to help him, Quint slips into the open mouth of the shark, which pulls him underwater and kills him. Finally, Brody succeeds in killing the animal: he pushes a compressed air bottle between its teeth and detonates it with a targeted rifle shot just before the leaky boat goes down. Together with the Hooper that has appeared, he swims back on land on the air-filled barrels.


History of the origin of the novel

Between July 1 and 12, 1916, a series of shark accidents occurred near New Jersey with five victims . Today we are pretty sure that at least four different sharks and of them two different species ( great white sharks and bull sharks ) were involved, as the bite radius of the victims was different and three of the accidents occurred in a river. At that time, however, the erroneous belief prevailed for a long time that only a single shark was the "culprit" and that it had specialized in humans. For Peter Benchley, the author of the novel, these events, along with other series of accidents and the thesis of the lone perpetrator at the time, provided the initial inspiration. He was fascinated by the thought of a huge killer shark that was loyal to the place and targeted people.

Benchley then conducted an interview for a magazine in the 1960s with a popular shark (Frank Mundus) who had just hunted down a large two-ton great white shark off New York's coast. Mundus went shark hunting with a harpoon. Quint's boat, the Orca , was a replica of Mundus' Cricket II .

In 1970/71, Benchley found a publisher who paid him. In his novel he interwoven fantasy and reality. The book was a success. By the time the film came out, 5.5 million copies of the book are said to have been sold. By 2006 the book had sold 20 million copies. In the years following its release, Benchley felt guilty about the sharks' bad name and was heavily involved in the marine conservation movement. In a 2000 article for National Geographic magazine , Benchley said he would no longer write the novel today. The animal is not evil, but occasionally confuses careless people with prey.

Differences in the novel

  • In the book, Brody is from Amity, while his wife, Ellen, is from "the mainland" and comes from a rather affluent family. The differences in class that Ellen had to come to terms with during the years of her marriage are an important part of the book.
  • The Brody family has three children in total.
  • Ellen knows the oceanographer Hooper from her teenage days when she was in a relationship with Hooper's older brother.
  • Ellen and Hooper have a short but violent affair in the novel, which is described very "vividly".
  • In the book, the concern and existential fear of the residents of Amity is emphasized more clearly, and there are entanglements between Mayor Vaughn and the mafia, which put additional pressure on him to solve the shark problem.
  • In the book, Brody and his Deputy Hendricks find Ben Gardener's boat, but no corpse, but a shark tooth.
  • The sequences with the pier torn away by the shark, with the false shark fin and the following attack in the bay are not from the book.
  • In the book, immediately after the attack on the boy, another man is attacked and killed, but this is only given as an eyewitness account.
  • The shark's last attack before the orca left the river was mild; a teenager wants to swim a hundred meters out to sea as a test of courage. As he swims back, the shark appears behind him and pursues him, but is unable to catch up with him.
  • Unlike in the film, the orca returns to Amity every evening.
  • Quint uses old fashioned harpoons (as in Moby Dick ) to kill the shark.
  • The most important differences: Hooper does not survive the attack of the shark on the underwater cage and Quint is not eaten by the shark either. His leg gets tangled in a line and he is pulled overboard and drowns. When the shark continues to attack the boat and is about to kill Brody as well, the animal suddenly stops and sinks - it ultimately perished from the harpoon wounds. Brody swims to the coast alone with a seat cushion as a pad.

Background to the film

The producers Dick Zanuck and David Brown loved the book and wanted to acquire the rights to the story at all costs. They did that even though they knew that the filming of the story might be difficult and they had no concrete idea of ​​how it would be implemented. Since Zanuck and Brown had already produced Spielberg's second feature film Sugarland Express , the question of the director was quickly answered. Spielberg read the book and was also fascinated as he saw it as an underwater continuation of his film Duel .

Benchley reworked his book into a script and was inspired, among other things, by the documentary Blue Water, White Death from 1971 and the resulting book Blue Meridian: The Search for the Great White Shark by Peter Matthiessen . He gave it to Steven Spielberg for further processing. Howard Sackler was also involved and changed the plot so that Spielberg was convinced and signed for this film project. For individual scenes, the dialogues were later rewritten or expanded by other people: John Milius and the actor Robert Shaw , who plays Quint . Spielberg had initially offered the role of shark catcher Quint to Lee Marvin , who had declined.

In order to be able to present the shark more credibly, the shark filmmakers Ron and Valerie Taylor were hired to take real shark pictures off Australia. The sharks there are usually only four to five meters long, while the film shark was seven to eight meters in size. This created a problem because one scene had to have a human in the cage and the difference in size between the sharks would have been too noticeable. Spielberg suggested building a small cage and hiring a short man to do it. Although he was afraid because he had no diving experience, he later agreed. The Taylors were also given the task of delivering a recording of a shark attacking the cage. Over a week passed with no useful intake. Then, by chance, a great white shark swam over the empty cage and got caught in the chain that connected the cage to the boat. The shark panicked and tried with all his might to get out of the predicament. This is how the desired recordings came about. Since the cage was empty during this shot, the script was changed accordingly.

The effect in the opening scene, in which the swimmer is being dragged back and forth by the shark, was created by tying a rope around the actress's waist. The rope went in two directions and was held at the ends by several people from the film crew. During this scene, some members of the film crew ran back and forth behind the camera, pulling the rope.

The scene when the man in the rowboat fell victim to the shark in the small bay was initially filmed differently. Originally, the man was covered in blood in the shark's mouth, was dragged along by him for a few meters and held Chief Brody's son in his hands until the shark and its prey disappeared. Spielberg changed this scene, however, because he thought it was too bloodthirsty and tasteless and therefore did not fit the first third of the film.

In the scene where you get to really see the shark for the first time, the chief throws blood and fish waste into the sea to bait the shark. He utters a saying, which serves the general relaxation, when suddenly the shark appears behind the chief and snaps around head over water. The chief notices him, moves shocked and slowly backwards towards Quint and says the following sentence: You will need a bigger boat. This sentence was improvised by Scheider and became the legend of the movie quotes.

There was an incident in the scene when the barrels are being pulled by the shark towards the orca . The motorboat that was actually pulling the barrels was going too fast and tore the device that was attached to the Orca for this trick , along with the plank, out of the hull. As a result, water poured into the orca and the boat slowly began to sink.

The artificial shark (from the film crew Bruce called - Spielberg's lawyer said Bruce) was from Disney -Trickexperten Robert A. Mattey constructed. An offer from Toho Company Japan ( Godzilla ) to work with miniature models was rejected. The mechanical shark was supposed to appear more often in the film at first, but it turned out to be prone to failure and was inoperative for practically all of the time. Supported by the suggestive music by John Williams , the director was able to even increase the feeling of threat with the narrative strategy he chose. The shark can only be seen for minutes in the finale of the film.

At the end of the film, when the remains of the shark slowly sink to the bottom, Spielberg built in the same gurgling sound he did at the end of Duel when the truck crashed into the gorge.

The great white shark is considered to be one of the classics of both horror and action films . The wave of animal horror that he unleashed with a few other films was not only technically superior, but above all in terms of narrative style, dramaturgy and the creation of tension.


  • Brody's movie dog was Steven Spielberg's real dog.
  • Amity is actually called Edgartown and is located in the US state of Massachusetts .
  • The tourists on Martha's Vineyard counted about 5,000 people per summer season before the film opened. After the film came out, the number rose to 15,000.
  • Quint's name comes from the Latin word for "the fifth". Quint is the fifth person to be killed by the shark.
  • The shooting time was 155 days and not 52 days as planned.
  • When the film was shot, the script was only halfway through and the conditions were chaotic.
  • The scene with Brody, Quint and Hooper out in the dark in the open sea features two large and some small falling stars , a recurring theme in Steven Spielberg's films.
  • A real shark was killed for the scene in which the fishermen present a hanging shark carcass.
  • When Hooper cuts open the shark carcass, he takes a license plate from the fish's stomach that reads “007 Louisiana” - two years earlier, the James Bond film Live and Let Die was filmed there , among other things.
  • Steven Spielberg played the first clarinet for one of the beach scenes.
  • When the machine-operated shark model was built, it was forgotten to check its suitability for water. When it was dropped into the water, it sank directly to the sea floor. A team of divers had to bring it back to the surface.
  • On closer inspection, in the scene in which Brody leaves the shop, you can see a spectator photographing Roy Scheider in one of the windows behind him.
  • The Universal Studios Florida in the United States possessed since 1990 on one of Steven Spielberg conceived attraction named Amity Boat Tours . The visitor “explored” the coastal town of Amity in a boat and was “attacked” several times by the great white shark. Three years after its opening, the trip was technically and dramatically revised. On January 2nd, 2012 the attraction was closed.
  • In the Columbo episode Murder in the Bistro (1976), the Amity Island sign can be seen on the shore of a lake on the studio premises; a model shark swims on the lake.
  • Steven Spielberg can be heard briefly in the film, in the scene after the shark is properly seen for the first time: As Quint prepares his rifle, a radio message from Land ("He has Mrs. Brody for him") sounds in the Original version was spoken by Spielberg.
  • On August 14, 2012 Universal released the digitally remastered and fully restored version of the film in 7.1 surround sound in a Blu-ray combo pack with DVD, digital copy and UltraViolet.
  • Since 1990 Phantasialand has had the Hollywood Tour , a water themed tour that depicts scenes from famous film classics. The first scene is the movie Jaws ajar, but does not appear in the film. There visitors see a boat with a fisherman, which is circled by a shark fin. Then the fin disappears in the water and the boat goes down with the fisherman. Then two sharks appear to the right and left of the visitors' boat, suggesting that they want to eat the visitors.


Production costs were seven million US dollars and the film grossed around 471 million US dollars worldwide. This made it the most commercially successful film until Star Wars .

For the film music, John Williams received the Oscar in 1976 . The film received further Oscars for the best sound mix and the best editing. Thus was Jaws total of three Oscars, a Golden Globe, a Grammy and was the first hit by Steven Spielberg, who since then is considered one of the most successful Hollywood directors. By Jaws the expression at that time was the summer blockbuster and it ushered in a new film era.

The film was voted 48th in the list of the 100 best films of all time (from 1998) by the American Film Institute , in the list of the 100 best thrillers of all time the film is in second place, the film music takes sixth place in the list of the 25 best film scores of all time and the quote You will need a bigger boat ( "You're gonna need a bigger boat." ) was voted number 35 of the 100 best film quotes .

In 2001, Great White Shark was added to the National Film Registry .


The great success led to several sequels, which, however, could not match the success of the first film either in terms of quality or in commercial terms:


"Murderously exciting adventure film [...]. Perfect cinema entertainment. (Rating: 3 stars / very good) "

- Adolf Heinzlmeier , Berndt Schulz : Lexicon "Films on TV"

"Despite the overemphasized shock effects, especially in the second part, the film proves to be an atmospherically dense, excellently played adventure film in the wake of Herman Melville ."

“This well-made, but by no means extraordinary, adventure film about an abnormally murderous shark is the example par excellence of the power of advertising to drive a film into almost any size on the basis of solid to good material. Even before “ The Godfather ” (1971) and - a similar case - “ The Exorcist ” (1973) 'Jaws' became the most profitable film of all time […] just because it promised to instill fear of bathing in its audience. "

- rororo film dictionary

The great white shark is also a film about human fears and weaknesses in character, from the overcoming of which heroes are born. The fact that he also deals with capitalist, self-endangering society, patriotic America, mass hysteria, guilt, atonement and the sacrifice of the individual for society makes it clear how Spielberg makes a basically very simple story legible on many levels. However, one should not ignore the fact that Jaws is one of the most nerve-wracking thrillers of all time. "

- "The best films of the 70s"

"[...] primitive story [...] tailored to the level of first graders [...]."

- Klaus Eder : Medium

"An adventure film of considerable quality [...]."

“In the confines of the boat, Steven Spielberg had the opportunity to take an intensive tour of the actors. The brawny Robert Shaw exercises his contempt for the students and the authorities, who are perceived as a hindrance, to the bitter end. Richard Dreyfuss is allowed to bring some humor into play by ironicizing the arrogance of the muscle man more than once. As a police officer, Roy Scheider has to represent the average citizen who is neither a hero nor wants to be one [...] and who can only oppose the knowledge of others with a sense of duty. "

- Georg Herzberg : Film Echo / Film Week

“[...] in the second part there is real tension in parts; In the loneliness of the sea, the threat to people from an uncanny force of nature can be sensed and experienced. Here, too, the focus is on the crude shock effects, which the film owes above all to the skilful montage [...] and the realistic model of the beast [...]. "

- Reclam's film guide

"[...] funny in a Woody Allen way ."

The Wiesbaden film evaluation agency awarded the production the title valuable . In 2001 it was accepted into the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress (USA).

German synchronization

The great white shark was dubbed in German for the first time in 1975 by Berliner Synchron GmbH and was released in cinemas, on VHS and on DVD for the first time. In 2004 the film was re-dubbed for re-release on DVD. The Blu-Ray release from 2012 contains both the original German cinema dubbing from 1975 in DTS 2.0 and the new dubbed version from 2004 in DTS-HD HR 7.1.

actor role 1. Synchronization 2. Synchronization
Roy Scheider Chief Martin Brody Hansjörg Felmy Randolf Kronberg
Richard Dreyfuss Matt Hooper Norbert Gescher Axel Malzacher
Robert Shaw Quint Michael Chevalier Roland Hemmo
Lorraine Gary Ellen Brody Almut Eggert Katharina Koschny
Murray Hamilton Mayor Vaughn Gert Günther Hoffmann Reinhard Glemnitz
Jeffrey C. Kramer Deputy Hendricks Joachim Kunzendorf Tobias Lelle



  • The White shark. Universal Pictures 2012 (theatrical dubbed version from 1975 in mono, new dubbed version in DTS-HD 7.1)


  • The White shark. Universal Pictures 2000 (theatrical dubbed version from 1975 in mono)
  • The White shark. Special Edition Universal Pictures 2004 (new dubbed version in Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Jaws Unleashed game for PC, XBOX and PS2


  • John Williams : Jaws. Music from the Original Motion Picture Soundtrack . MCA Records, Universal City n.d., no.MCD01660.
  • John Williams: Jaws. The Original Motion Picture Score . Varèse Sarabande Film Classics. Complete new recording by the Royal Scottish National Orchestra under the direction of Joel McNeely . Varèse Sarabande, Studio City 2000, Varèse Sarabande 302 066 078 2.


Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Sam Knight: 'Jaws' creator loved sharks, wife reveals . In: The Times , February 13, 2006. Retrieved January 26, 2008. 
  2. ^ Summer of the Shark . In: Time , June 23, 1975. Archived from the original on June 19, 2009. Retrieved on December 9, 2011. 
  3. ^ Peter Benchley: Great white sharks . In: National Geographic . April 2000, p. 12. ISSN  0027-9358 .
  4. Carl Gottlieb in The Jaws Log
  5. Jaws on Blu-ray - Everything You NEED to Know , accessed April 10, 2012
  6. Jaws (1975) - Box Office Mojo. Retrieved August 2, 2019 .
  7. ^ Adolf Heinzlmeier , Berndt Schulz : Lexicon "Films on TV". Rasch and Röhring, Hamburg 1990, p. 908, ISBN 3-89136-392-3 .
  8. The great white shark. In: Lexicon of International Films . Film service , accessed September 9, 2017 . 
  9. Wolfram Tichy , Liz-Anne Bawden , et al .: rororo Filmlexikon. Vol. 2: Films K - S. (OT: The Oxford Companion to Film ). Rowohlt, Reinbek bei Hamburg 1978, ISBN 3-499-16229-6 , p. 319.
  10. Steffen Haubner in Jürgen Müller (ed.): "The best films of the 70s". Taschen, Cologne 2003, p. 175, ISBN 3-8228-5089-6 .
  11. a b c quoted from Ronald M. Hahn , Volker Jansen : Lexikon des Horror-Films . Bastei Lübbe, Bergisch Gladbach 1989, ISBN 3-404-13175-4 , pp. 476-477.
  12. ^ Dieter Krusche, Jürgen Labenski : Reclams film guide. 10th edition, Reclam, Stuttgart 1996, ISBN 3-15-010418-1 , p. 316.
  13. The great white shark. In: German synchronous index , accessed on March 2, 2017 .