6 Reasons Why Jaws Is Secretly A Western

5. The Shark

Jaws Western
Universal Pictures

The Shark (do we call it Jaws?) is depicted mostly through John Williams' chillingly simple score...duh dum duh dum, is this the shark's heart beat, is it our heart beat!? This pure force of nature terrorises a small island community, picking off its citizens, slinking back into the ocean depths, silent, unchallenged.

Take the opening seen of Jaws; during the terrifying, brutal assault on poor Chrissie Watkins the audience are barely given even a glimpse of the terror beneath the waves. Indeed it seems incomprehensible to some that this could be a shark attack, even if others are in denial. All that is known for sure is that a young woman is snatched away in the most frightening of circumstances.

Let's compare this with The Searchers (a film Jaws shares D.N.A. with at an almost primal level). The attack on the Edwards home is equally as horrifying, the Native Americans (often depicted in troubling fashion, particularity in early examples of the genre) are, like the shark, unseen, silent, their presence portrayed through the flashing of mirrors and suggestion of smoke in the distance. The result of the attack is just as devastating, in this case two young girls snatched from their homes.

The most effective element of both scenes is that the true terror is left to the imaginations of the audience. Women and Children being slaughtered, fear spreading through the town, the community looking to the law to save them...it's adding up.


Fledgling writer, Spielberg enthusiast, Kubrick sceptic.