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

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

In this essay I will be analysing the film Jaws. The film was directed by Steven Spielberg whose other works include Indiana Jones and E.T. Jaws is a fascinating and entertaining film mainly because of its interesting and diverse plot. The people of Amity Island used to live a peaceful and quiet life in the small summer resort town in America. Now however, the people of the small town have become victim to a man-eating Great White Shark. The town officials hesitate to warn people about the shark for fear of losing business during their busiest time of year, Fourth of July weekend. Therefore the shark is kept quiet from the town until a child is attacked in broad daylight and killed. After many failed attempts, Martin Brody, the chief of police in Amity, takes it upon himself to kill the shark, with help from Matt Hooper, a marine biologist, and Quint, a shark expert. It is set on the fourth of July because that is the date of the main holiday season in Amity and therefore emphasises the amount of business that the shark is losing the town and the number of potential victims.

The music in Jaws begins slowly and speeds up until it is at a fast pace. This is connected to feeding theories about the Great White Shark and is very effective at scaring the audience. Great Whites typically stalk their 'prey' by swimming along the bottom and strike by launching a lightning-fast, vertical attack. Also, many films use a technique whereby a particular piece of music is used to identify a specific character. This technique is known as a leitmotif. In Jaws, when the music begins the audience knows that the shark is somewhere nearby. There are also other instances of when music or silence is used to scare the audience. For instance, whenever an attack occurs, the music ends up being extremely fast, then slowing considerably and then stopping altogether resulting in complete silence. This silence after each attack frightens the audience because they realise how quickly something awful, like the event they have just witnessed, can happen and how quickly it can end. It also reminds them that the shark is still out there and will continue to carry out these attacks. In addition, before the first attack occurs a group of teenagers are having a bonfire and at this point someone is playing a mouth organ. When the boy and the girl run off, we suddenly hear the sound of the mouth organ gently disappearing. This shows that the two are travelling away from safety and peace into the abyss of the dark sea where they are unaware of what is lurking there. It also signifies how alone and desolate they are.
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The second attack occurs on a crowded beach, a venue where everyone feels safe. Contrary to popular belief this is not true though, as recent studies have shown that Great White Sharks are often found in just three feet of water. This supposedly safe environment is emphasised with a mid shot that gives a good perspective of a relaxed environment with people enjoying the sun and generally having a good time. A dolly zoom on Brody shows an anxious face that is not completely satisfied about the safety of the people on the beach. The dolly zoom technique ...

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