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English Coursework on the film jaws

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How does the director Steven Spielberg use filmic techniques to build suspense and build tension for the audience in the film 'Jaws In1973 Peter Benchley wrote a thriller of a book titled 'Jaws', which was about a man eating shark. Two years later in 1975 the director Steven Spielberg made it into a film which became a huge hit nation wide. The key to the success of the film was the directing techniques used to create tension and suspense for the audience. In this essay I will explore how he used these techniques. In the first attack it becomes evident that non diegetic music is used to create a gripping atmosphere and tension for the audience by using a 'dur-dur' theme tune. Spielberg does this by firstly using silence, then a slow build up of the theme tune as the pace of the scene increases. The theme tune from that point onwards becomes associated with the shark, making the audience feel anxious when hearing it. ...read more.


In an attempt to capture the shark a professional is introduced who finds a tiger shark believed to be the 'killer' shark. Unconvinced, sheriff Brody, leads an investigation to cut the shark open to reveal the insides of the stomach to see if there are human remains, along side oceanographer Hooper. In the scene where this takes place the director places the shark lying near the camera in shadow making it seem insignificant and unimportant. The two characters become the main focus to show their reaction when realising the 'killer' shark is still on the loose capable of attacking at any time. Another scene shows Brody eagerly flicking through a book on shark attacks, it is then that the audience appreciates the danger and capabilities of the shark who is still on the loose, which naturally creates fright and anxiety. The theme music can be used to mislead the audience into a false sense of fright, as done so when Cooper and Quinn set out to catch the shark. ...read more.


Among the techniques is the important use of camera angles to show dominance, insignificance, facial expressions etc. Spielberg uses extreme close ups to show the facial expressions and emotion, this gives the audience a sense of how to feel. Low angle shot is where the camera is pointed upwards to create an importance and intimidating view, Spielberg uses this when showing the shark in attack. A very effective camera angle is the point of view shot which Spielberg uses to show the perspective of the main focus, for instance when the shark is about to attack in the first scene a below sea level shot is show moving in a rapid movement towards the victim believed to be the shark. Steven Spielberg's techniques worked brilliantly and successfully as he created an even more popular film then the original book. Without the use of sound and a variety of camera angles the film 'Jaws' could or would never have been so notorious today, as it was when first released. ...read more.

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