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Jaws - How does Steven Speilburg build suspense in the film 'Jaws'?

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Introduction

Analyse the ways that the director builds suspense and scares the audience in the film Jaws In the 1975 thriller 'Jaws', the director Steven Spielberg, uses a variety of techniques to build suspense and frighten the audience. The factors that Spielberg uses to construct the film and impact the audience are:- diegetic and non diegetic sound, camera angles to show facial expressions and different shots, and he uses colour so that we can associate signs and symbols to forthcoming events, e.g. the colour red is associated with danger. The nerve wracking thriller is set in the grounds of Amity Island, America in the 1970's.It is set on 4th of July because that is the date of the main holiday season in Amity and that alone emphasizes the amount of people. It is based on Peter Benchly's novel, inspired by the Jersey shore shark attack of 1916. The main character of the film- Martin Brody (police chief) ...read more.

Middle

Suddenly the soundtrack comes on which is a deep distinctive 'Duh duh', which signifies to the audience the killer is in the area and approaching danger. Diegetic sound changes from positive to negative, and builds maximum suspense and tension. This clever technique of using non diegetic sound is very effective to the audience. Non diegetic sound is where there is no source for the sound. There are many times in the thriller, where non diegetic sound is used, one example is in scene 2 (the second attack.) All of a sudden you hear the catchy 'duh duh' and even though you can't physically see the shark, you immediately know it's nearby. It makes you feel like you're in the position of Alex, who doesn't know the shark's there, which makes you feel even more worried. The pace of the music increases and you definitely know the attack is soon to come. John Williams composed this score, simply alternating between two notes- E and F. ...read more.

Conclusion

Towards the beginning of the clip, calm blues and sunny yellows are used (clothing, sun, sand) to create a calm, relaxing atmosphere. Red then begins to appear more which is a sign of danger, impacting the audience. The colour red (boys shorts, blood) is a strong, shocking, bold colour compared to the neutral blues and yellows. The suspense suddenly builds up, with the help of colours and the soundtrack, to the shocking shark attack. I think the high points of tension in the film, are where you can see in the shark's view. For example in the first attack, you watch in the shark's point of view. As the shark is swimming there are a lot of weeds in the way, which makes me agitated and anxious. When the camera tracks the shark, you know exactly when the shark is going to attack and the music with it makes it the scariest part of the film. In conclusion, I think Steven Spielberg used filmic devises like camera angles, diegetic and non diegetic sound and music very successfully to entertain the audience and to build tension and suspense. ...read more.

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