score by John Williams
Like the greatest film composers, John Williams understands what the emotional core of a film is, and writes his scores to compliment and inform that. With Jaws, Williams zeroed in on the pure, primal instinct that drove the story. As Hooper points out, the shark is “a perfect engine, an eating machine.” There is no reasoning with a shark. There is no malice or premeditation. It just wants to eat you, and it won’t stop until it does.
To emphasize this terrifying simplicity, Williams put musical complexity to the side, using deep, ominous, unrelenting tones to strike fear in us at a primitive level. And, in doing so, John Williams created one of the most indelible movie scores of all time; one that is so tuned in to the spirit of the horror that it is completely inseparable from the images we’re seeing on the screen. Jaws simply wouldn’t be the movie that we all know and love without that terrifying, primal music.