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Jaws - analyse the way that the director builds suspense and scares the audience 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 Set in the beautiful seaside resort of Amityville, a picturesque island off the east coast of America, in the mid 1970's, Jaws was a film with a difference. Directed by Spielberg, it broke box office records across the western world following the theme of 'man versus beast'. We follow the story of how an underwater killing machine affects the island and the challenge to kill it. Starting in the build up to the 4th of July, American Independence Day, the biggest day of business for the town, fears that the shark may strike are high. This sense of fear heightens throughout the film, changing the nature of the film, and by the end of the film we are looking at a full on war against the shark. Sound and moving pictures have gone hand in hand for nearly a century, a film without sound in this day and age would seem incomplete, seeming to take us back to the days of one dimensional silent movies. The Jaws 'shark theme tune' is one of the most recognisable and distinctive in the history of action/thrillers. Combined with the clever underwater camera shots in the opening sequence, it creates an eerie, chilling atmosphere. The 'shark' theme-tune beings very quietly and slowly, building suspense- setting a menacing scene. It is said that the music is an imitation of the human heart beat, as the scene gets darker the music builds up and gets louder and faster. ...read more.

Middle

This brings in the idea of contrast again, his safety on the beach while she has been killed in the now calm looking sea. The feeling that 'all has returned to calm' seems to describe the situation best, returning to a somewhat feeling of normality, the action is over for the meantime. This scene to aims to shock and excite the audience-taking them from watching a jovial beach scene which is all fun and games, to witnessing scenes of a shark attack then returning to scenes or normality again. Spielberg possibly had three main reasons for not revealing the complete image as the victims were mauled by the beast, a prominent reason was the fact if he showed a brutally visual attack, and this would damage the marketing of the film as a higher certification would mean that less people would be able to view the film. The film was intended to have a feel good ending, possibly after the bad times felt by America in the loss of the Vietnam War, too much blood and gore would dampen this and also change the genre of the film. I feel the most important reason for not actually showing the attack, is that the unseen, the suggested has always been far more effective on the human imagination than the obvious. Often, not seeing something can increase our fear as our imaginations can go into overdrive. Spielberg seems to play on this, putting across most of the effect of the shark through the reactions of the characters. ...read more.

Conclusion

This helps the audience feel more involved with the storyline. The shark threatens the livelihood of the town with a worry of attack on the biggest business day of the year, Independence Day which is one of the most important days for the people of the town. The shark's threat on this particular day is strategically placed as it would cause the most disruption. The fact that it threatens one of the biggest days of the year seems to make Brody & Co more intent on bringing the shark to its end. To conclude I would like to bring to attention the certification of the film, which as a PG is rather low, considering this would enable a six year old to view scenes which I feel are highly unsuitable, as they depict shark attacks in gory detail, especially toward the end of the film. I would personally be worried about the effect this film may have on a six year child, not old enough to understand that this is fiction. Personally, at nearly ten years over 6 I still found this film scary and at certain moments to horrific to watch! I think that this should be rated either as a twelve or a fifteen as it is in Ireland. The reason why this was certificated so low I feel was to keep the audience figures as large as possible, as if this film was rated higher this would limit the amount of viewers which would in turn limit the profit. ...read more.

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