Analyse the ways that the director builds suspense and scares the audience in the film 'Jaws'.

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Samantha Wright        Page         27/04/2007

Analyse the ways that the director builds suspense and scares the audience in the film ‘Jaws’.

 ‘Jaws’ was set in a summer town called Amity Island in the late 70’s-early 80’s. The film was about a great white shark that was attacking and killing innocent humans as well as the occasional dog, which must be stopped. The reason why ‘Jaws’ was set on and around 4th July, was because it is Independence Day, one of America’s national holidays. The 4th July is when people go to the beach to celebrate the national holiday. With attacks taking place on July 4th, it creates more suspense and fear because the audience knows that the day was supposed to be a happy occasion however there is a dark cloud shadowing over in the form of a killer great white.

The director uses music in different ways to connect the shark to the title music. The director does this, to scare the audience and build suspense. The music at the beginning of the film creates an atmosphere of chaos, uneasiness and franticness. As well as this, the music helps the audience sense that something foreboding is out there. When the tempo and the volume changes suddenly, the audience knows that the creature is getting closer and that it is dangerous and that it is a big threat to anything alive.

 Before July 4th, when the music is playing on the beach, just before the second attack, the director has chosen to create a false sense of security. Tension is built as the audience begins to wonder whether an attack is going to happen as the joyful atmosphere reminds them of build-up to Chrissy in the first attack. Another example of how the music and silence is used to scare the audience is the silence that happens after every attack. This helps to scare the audience because they realise that the attacks are serious, the first attacks were not one-offs, and there will be more attacks, if, the shark is not killed and that the victims will never be found alive and will never return.

The director uses different camera angles to present the second shark attack and to build apprehension and fear. The sequence leading up to the second attack begins normal events (a boy walking to his mother and asking for ten more minutes- which turn out to be fatal). The camera angle then changes, to show the audience, Brody continually watches the water as a man throwing a stick for his dog. Suddenly, whilst the camera is focusing on the water, a black shape emerges, creating fear in the audience. The black shape turns out to be a man in a black hat. The perspective shifts back to Brody but this time, a sunburnt man blocking Brody’s view, and the audience begin to wonder is something is about to happen. Suddenly out of the blue a woman who is playing in the water screams and Brody gets up from his chair. This turns out to be a false attack as a man is picking up the woman but nevertheless the event creates fear in the audience’s hearts. The audience observes Brody beginning to relax as it looks like there will not be anymore attacks.  Between the next shots, the audience sees another small boy singing while building a sandcastle; distracting them slightly and the man calling his dog causing the audience to wonder what has happened to the dog. At the back of the audience’s mind is that the dog could have been killed by the shark. The camera’s perspective again alternates to a different view, this time, an underwater shot showing lots of legs moving about. This creates a sense of suspense and fear as the audience remember that the underwater shots resemble the shark’s eyes and what they are seeing, is what the shark is as well.

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The audience are then shown a view of the sea and are abruptly drawn to the attack that it happening in the distance, scaring the audience and create an atmosphere of suspense. At this point, Brody realises what is happening and general panic occupies everyone that is on the beach. Everyone starts shouting and pulling people out of the water, where the audience see and young boy like the one on the lilo being pulled to safety. The audience breath a sigh of relief as they believe that no one has become the next victim to the shark. In sequence ...

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