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Jaws Coursework

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Introduction

How does the director Stephen Spielberg use filmic techniques to build suspense and to build tension for the audience in the film Jaws? Jaws is a 1975 thriller and horror film based on Peter Benchley's best selling novel, inspired by the Jersey Shore shark attacks of 1916. Stephen Spielberg has produced many other films, which include "War of the Worlds", "Minority Report" and "Jurassic Park". Stephen Spielberg creates tension and engages the viewer throughout the film Jaws. He uses camera shots, music and sound, imagery and colour connections, false alarms and many other theatrical devices and techniques to keep the viewer tense and on edge. The tag line of the film is "don't go in the water" this kept a lot of shark hysterical ocean swimmers and summer beach goers wary. Also they are unaware what will happen if they did and this allowed them to use their imagination. Jaws is probably one of the most famous shark movies ever. As a piece of cinematic history, the importance of Jaws cannot be overstated. It is a film that literally defined the modern approach to presenting movies as we know it, literally the first true "blockbuster" feature. The film is about a great white shark, which terrorizes the resort town of Amity. The local police chief wants to close the beaches but the mayor will not allow it because of the potential harm to the town's tourism during the lucrative Fourth of July weekend. After several shark attacks, the mayor relents and the town hires a crusty old mariner called Quint to kill the shark. The mariner accompanied by the chief and a shark expert, take to the sea to try and stop the shark. Before the first scene we hear an eerie sound as the "Universal" Studio logo appears on the screen which sets the tone for the whole film. We now hear an echo of the water bubbling in the deep ocean; these are almost alien to use and creates a fear of the unknown. ...read more.

Middle

Fear is created because it is dark and again we haven't seen the shark. The principal character in Jaws is Roy Scheider who plays the slightly unheroic sheriff battling between his instinct to shut the beach for safety reasons and the cost to the local tourist economy is he does. The mayor is also an important character he is an average, no good dealing, money hungry, and popularity contest winning politician. At several junctures in the film it is very clearly explained to the Mayor of the dangers and issues involved with not closing down the beaches leading up to and during the Fourth of July celebrations. The Mayor however would rather produce profit than protect the citizens and continually sends innocent swimmers to their doom with his greed. The first victim was a young woman named Chrissy Watkins. She went skinny dipping and while in the water was suddenly jerked around by an unseen force and then pulled under. Her mangled remains are found washed up on the shore. Chrissy is made human because we learn her name; we also see her running and enjoying herself making her a real person. The audience do not find out much about Chrissy, but they can tell she was innocent and na�ve. Alex Kintner was the second victim, he was a young boy eaten by a shark while swimming off a crowded beach. As Alex walks up the beach you can see a radio and hear it playing, this is an example of a diegetic sound as you can see a source for the sound on screen. Alex's mum later slaps Brody as she is in mourning and finds out a young woman was killed by a shark just days earlier and Brody could of prevented Alex's death. Alex is made human by tracking him along the beach, meeting his family and then learning his name. ...read more.

Conclusion

The camera pulls back to show a wide shot of the sea, and you can hear the noise of the sea in the background. This shot sets the scene; the rippling water is relaxing, calm and gentle. Whilst the girl is swimming there is no music, she shows no fear of what's in the water and continues talking to the man. She swims with her leg up which emphasises a shark's fin and creates a false sense of security for the audience. The camera shows the shark's point of view and the music starts, this hints that danger is present. Looking from below upwards suggests she doesn't know what is going to happen. The camera switches between the top and bottom of the water creating suspense and that the creature is getting closer. There is a shot of her legs kicking and the camera slowly zooms in. This shows there is something in the water as the camera is from "something's" point of view. By not allowing the audience to see the shark suspense if created and the audience begin questioning themselves about what is about to happen. Therefore this makes the viewer want to continue watching and gets you hooked on the film. After the attack there is a sudden silence which creates peace and the sense no one is around to witness the attack. The first attack has the highest point of tension as it starts the film, the director needs to keep the viewer watching and on edge to make the film interesting and exciting. The director Stephen Spielberg has successfully used filmic devices to entertain and to build suspense. He manages to create tension and engage the viewer throughout the film Jaws by using camera shots, music and sound, false alarms and many other theatrical devices and techniques to keep the viewer tense and on edge. It is a film that literally defined the modern approach to presenting movies as we know it, literally the first true "blockbuster" feature. ...read more.

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