This essay will analyse the film 'Jaws' and look at the ways that Steven Spielberg (The director) builds suspense and scares the audience in the film.

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        Jaws        Media coursework essay

Jaws – Media coursework essay

This essay will analyse the film ‘Jaws’ and look at the ways that Steven Spielberg (The director) builds suspense and scares the audience in the film. Jaws was the box-office sensation of 1975 and the number-one hit movie of the decade until 1977's ‘Star Wars’; this was a time when the success or failure of a few blockbusters began to determine the course of the entire motion picture industry. The film is about a killer shark that causes havoc among an island resort town, called Amity, somewhere in New England. The film is set on the 4th of July this is because in America the 4th of July is a national holiday. It is one of the only times in the year in which the whole of America is on holiday. Many Americans will be enjoying themselves on the beach. This makes ‘Jaws’ seem like a greater threat and emphasises the fact that people are going to be killed because with more people on the beach there is a greater chance of death.

The start of the film starts off with a point of view shot of ‘something’ swimming through the water with the Jaws theme music going on in the background. Near the climax of the theme, music the word JAWS appears on the screen. This immediately connects the music with the presence of the creature called Jaws.

After the climax of the music, it the cuts to the first scene in which, we see a cheerful bunch of teenagers having a party on the beach. This is a typical American teenage party. We see alcohol, and even a joint, being passed round. We can sense that something is going to happen, but our minds are deceived when we see the large bonfire. When we think of a bonfire we think of safety and warmth and that bonfires are a traditional way of scaring off large predators. You can also hear the sound of a mouth organ playing happy music in the background. The scene looks so innocent, but we then see a high angle shot of the teenagers who are unaware of the threat nearby. We then see a wide shot of the sea and can hear the noise of the waves crashing against the shore. Then above the calm noise of the sea we hear the load cry of a buoy with its bell ringing. The bell is a warning sound and gives us the impression that something bad is going to happen. We also know that the girl will be part of the attack for a two reasons. One, the camera focuses on her and follows her around the screen and two, she is the first person in the water and we know that the there is a contrast between the safety of the land and the dangers that lurk in the sea.

Now that the young girl is in the sea, we being to hear the theme of the shark. The two very low semitones create suspense in the viewer because we know the shark is nearby and that the young girl is in danger. The two notes begin to get faster and faster, until there is silence and we see the young girl swimming. We know something is going happen, but we are in suspense because the music has stopped and we are waiting to see if the shark is still there. We then get our answer when we see the girl,  seemingly getting pulled underneath the water. We do not see what is pulling her down but we know it is something strong and powerful. The girl screams help as loud as she can, but no one can hear anything. Not even the drunken teenager lying on the beach has any idea that the girl is in trouble. We begin to think that the girl was killed because of the wayward way she was acting, e.g. Sex before marriage.

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There are pauses in the attack in which the camera goes to a wide screen shot of the drunken boy lying on the beach with absolute silence. This is how we know that no one can hear the girl. The camera then jumps back to the screaming girl who is finally pulled underneath the water and all that is left is complete silence. This is a typical device used in horror, it allows the audience to reflect on what has happened, it makes us ask the question, ‘When will this threat reappear?’ There is then a wide screen shot of ...

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