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How does steven speilberg use filmic techniques to build tension and suspense in jaws

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How does the director Steven Spielberg use filmic techniques to build suspense and tension for the audience in the film Jaws? Steven Speilberg directed the epic blockbuster film,Jaws, alongside producers David Brown and Richard D. Zanuck. He is an American film director, producer, screenwriter and undoubtedly one of the most influential personalities in the history of filmmaking. Additionally, Spielberg is the highest grossing filmmaker of all time and his movies have earned in the region of four billion dollars internationally! He is also eminent for the direction of numerous other films after the release of Jaws, such as: E.T The Extra-Terrestrial, Jurassic Park, Schindlers List and Saving Private Ryan. Over the span of his career, Spielberg's films have approached a diverse array of themes and genres. Throughout his earlier years, his adventure and sci-fi films were often renowned as typical of modern Hollywood blockbuster filmmaking; though in his later years as a director, he incorporated aspects of historical concern: war, slavery, terrorism and the Holocaust. The plot and events occurring throughout the course of Jaws were based upon the best-selling novel written by Peter Benchley. His previous works included the books: Island, Creature and The Beast-though none of these matched the success of Jaws. Benchley was inspired by the Jersey Shore shark attacks which took place during the summer of 1916- in New Jersey. Unlike the film, which is a taut and cerebral thriller, the novel is an entertaining account of the genuine outcome of having a giant killer shark sucking the economy dry. Whilst the film is suggestive and direct, the novel is explicit and somewhat convoluted, including subplots of mafia relations in the community, marital infidelity and an implication of supernatural influence. The novel was then directed by Spielberg and adapted by Universal Studios for motion pictures. If there was ever any justification for being petrified of sticking a toe in the ocean, it's Jaws! ...read more.


The use of zoom by Spielberg builds tension by showing the attacks in full detail. This technique aims to give the audience the perspective of what actually happens to the victims, as if they were watching from the beach. Subsequent to the incident, the camera does a close-up shot of Brody whilst pulling the background away from him. This gives the effect of someone gasping with horror or going into shock. This causes the viewer to feel what Broody must be feeling whilst seeing the fatal shark attack. After the gruesome attack the camera began to fade out gradually and showed the yellow lilo which was washing against the shore-as if it was the only thing left of him. Another example of a false alert occurred after a reward was offered for the butchery of the culprit shark. Two local amature fishermen took it upon themselves to capture the shark and collect the reward. The camera showed the men (from a long shot) with bait which was attatched to the somewhat unstabel looking pier that they were perched upon. Speilberg intercut this humourous, exciting and nail-biting sequence with grusome photos of shark victims, jaws and razor-sharp teeth from the pages that Brody was seen flicking through in an encyclopedia. The camera then returned to focus on the men in a mid shot and showed the sequnce as the shark took the bait, then dragged it out to sea, taking half of the pier with it. There is a use of eerie music throughout this scene which builds up to a climax, then introduces the shark theme music to alert the audience that the menace is approaching. The camera then appears to zoom out as one of the old men scrambles onto the remains of the pier and leaves his partner behind. These techniques enforce the man's vunerability and heighten the tension for audiences, who cannot decipher whether he will live or die. ...read more.


The camera then zooms out as the shark's bloody carcass is blown to bits all over the water surface and Hooper miraculously surfaces from below. Ironically, Speilberg chose to end the movie with a long shot of the two men kicking toward shore with the aid of the floating yellow barrels. In conclusion Steven Spielberg successfully uses a range of filmic devices which entertain and built suspense and tension in Jaws. The use of numerous camera angles and filming techniques merge together with the music (composed by Williams) to create an outstanding piece of filmmaking which has entertained audiences for generations. Jaws allows viewers to develop social empathy and gain insight into the circumstance of others; it allows them to find a basis for conversation and social interaction, therefore enabling them to connect with their family, friends and society. The purpose of the movie is to entertain viewers and they experience escapism into someone else's life, are diverted from problems and have the opportunity simply to relax. In 1974 Blumler and Katz stated that there were four main needs of television audiences. These included: identity (which enables the viewer to compare their lives with those on the television in order to explore or question their personal identity), personal relationships (which allows the viewers to feel companionship by either conversations with others or with the television characters themselves); diversion (which is a form of escaping the general pressures of everyday) and surveillance (where the media provides information and news about society). The uses and gratification theory states that everyone has different uses for media and makes choices about what they watch. This means that audiences use media for a purpose and they expect to achieve something from watching it. Three sequels to the Jaws movie have been released: Jaws 2, Jaws the Revenge and Jaws 3D. However, neither of these were directed by Spielberg himself and therefore failed to reach the high standards achieved in the original. Written by Julia Parsons ...read more.

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