spense, and scare the audience in the 1970?s film, Jaws?Steven Spielberg, the creator of Jaws, uses many different techniques to draw in the suspense of viewers and to capture their imagination. These techniques include special effects – to create tension, different camera angles – to show facial expressions and group shots. The classic Jaws music, known by millions of people, also helps build up tension, to let us know when the shark is approaching. He uses colours, so that we can associate signs and symbols to forthcoming events, e.g. the colour red is associated with danger. We will be using all of the above devices to help analyse different parts of the film.
As soon as the film starts, from the title sequence, these techniques are being used. The music begins very quietly and slowly. In my opinion, I get the impression that danger is on its way, and, also, it is dark, which builds up the suspense. The opening credits are written a sharp pointy writing, which is perhaps suggesting the teeth of the shark, and its capabilities.
As the scene changes, the suspense and anxiety increases, because we are now watching the film from the sharks point of view but, as the shark is swimming through the water, there is a lot of weeds in his way, which makes the audience very agitated, and the speed of the shark may suggest that he is anxious to get somewhere.
The music then starts to build up, by getting louder and faster. This starts to get the audience thinking, and wondering what will happen next. It builds up a lot of tension and suspense, and you seem, to know that danger is getting closer.
After this event, the atmosphere changes dramatically. It becomes livelier, and there is an old-fashioned feeling, as there is a mouth organ being played in the background. Everybody seems to be having fun, which does make them seem quite a lot more vulnerable, as they are unaware of the danger.
There is also a large bonfire on the beach, which gives the audience a sense of safety, but also, fire means danger, so it makes you unsure. The large amount of people also gives you a sense of safety, but again this is dampened by the fact that they are in the dark, making them seem vulnerable, also this makes their vision very scarce, as it is the dark, and they can’t see very far.
The third shot reminds us of the danger, as you have pushed the shark to the back of your mind. The camera pans round, so that you can see the sea, and remind you of the shark, but you can also see the calmness of the bonfire. The waves give off a really eerie effect, the whole scene just seems to bee too calm.
The next scene is off the girl swimming, but there is no music playing at all, and makes the atmosphere feel eerie. You wonder what is going to happen next. Also the girl is totally naked at this time, which makes her seem very vulnerable, as there is nothing between her and the shark, except water. She is also away from the party, which makes her seem unsafe.
The camera then starts to switch from the girls point of view, to the sharks point of view. The girl is totally defenceless to the shark’s capabilities, but using this effect allows you to relate to both characters.
Next, you see a shot of the girl kicking her legs, and the camera slowly zooms in. This shows the view from the shark’s point of view, and shows the audience that the danger is getting closer, which is certainly building the tension up.
The fact that we do not see the shark makes the audience feel quite uneasy, as in a way we are uncertain of what the danger is. It also builds up a lot of fear, from our point of view.
There are a lot pauses in the attack, which allows you to see the unconscious boy, slumped on the beach. To me this shows us that the girl’s only chance of survival is totally oblivious to the current events, and is unaware of her screams. Also when the camera switches onto the boy, it gives a chance to reflect on what has just happened in the attack.
After the attack there is a sudden silence. I think that in a way we can associate this with a minute of silence, as they do when someone has died, as it is obvious that the girl has been killed. Again it also gives us chance to reflect on what has happened.
At the end of the scene, all we can see and hear is the sea. There is also a calm silence, which makes everything seem dead.
The second attack also uses these devices to build up the tension and suspense of the viewers.
The scene starts off with a boy walking up the beach to his mother, but the camera changes its view. A red car can be seen, and also the young boy is wearing red shorts. Does this mean danger is going to occur? We also see an old lady, swimming on her own, and no one else can be seen swimming in the shot. The camera does focus a lot on the one boy, so, immediately, we think that something will happen to him, but we are unsure what. There is also a bit of contrast in the beginning, as there are several effects, which may symbolise happiness. There is very lively music and also there is a very playful dog. A woman is wearing a yellow hat as well, and this is the colour we associate with happiness.
The next event used in this scene, uses several different camera shots to capture the moment. Again, there is contrast in this scene, we noticed that there was no lifeguard in the station, which appears to make the tourists seem quite vulnerable, but there is also a lot of happy, laughing people, who are very unaware of the missing lifeguard. The following scene is also like this one, as there are many unaware tourists, but for the first time, in the second attack, we see Brody, whose expression is very serious, and he looks very uneasy.
In this next shot, we see a man throw a stick to the dog we saw earlier, and in the background you can see the same old, vulnerable woman, swimming alone again. I got the impression that something bad was going to happen to her, because, although it is stereotypical, older woman seem to be a lot more vulnerable and especially as she is on her own. The camera also focuses a lot on this woman.
A close-up shot and a track shot are the main camera angles used in this event. Both the boy and the dog run into the water, which causes a lot of splashing and, ultimately, this will attract the shark.
The next event does not shoe any signs of danger, as there is only the dog swimming, but maybe this does show vulnerability. The camera angle used is a mid-shot.
There are two things in this vent that contradict themselves, if what we say about the different colours is true. The first thing is the boys red shorts, which we associate with danger, but also he is swimming on a red lilo, which as I said before, is the colour we associate with happiness.
As Brody continues to watch the water, the camera slowly zooms in on his face, which lets us see that he has a very worried expression. The way that the camera zooms in also adds to the effect. The reason for this is because each time a person passes in front of the camera, the camera gets closer to his face, showing Brody looking more and more worried. The camera then changes the changes the shot, so that you can see the beach from Brody’s point of view. Again you see the vulnerable woman, and you also see the dog splashing, which may be attracting the shark.
For a brief moment in this event, you believe that that shark is approaching the beach, as a man, who is swimming underwater, and is wearing a black hat, which is only just visible, and I ended up confusing this with the sharks fin. The camera then zooms in again on Brody, and you can see that Brody also thinks that the hat is a shark, as all of the colour drains from his face, and he begins to stand up. The shark’ hat is approaching the vulnerable woman, so people are adamant she is going to be attacked. In the background, there is a lot of laughing and shouting, which again proves how unaware everyone is of the shark. When the man emerges from under the water, you see Brody relax a lot, and he sits back down. I think that Brody believes that the shark was defiantly going to make an appearance.
In this event, the happy background slowly disappears, and only the wind can be heard. A sunburnt man (red – associated with danger) starts talking to Brody, which blocks his view of the sea. A close-up of Brody continues to show the audience just how worried he is.
In the next event you hear an ear-piercing scream, but you see in the water that is just a young couple having fun. You see that this alerts Brody. You can also hear the sea a lot.
When a few boys all run into the water together, they cause a lot of splashing, which again may attract the shark. You can see the young boy I mentioned earlier, alone in the background, and it looks as the he is struggling quite a bit. As the shot cuts to Brody, you can see just how agitated he is.
The next event shows us a young child, who is singing have you seen the muffin man,’ which shows us that he is happy and totally unaware, and again you can hear a lot of splashing in the background. The dog owner keeps calling his dog, which is called Pippit, and he seems to be quite agitated, and then we see the stick that the man had been throwing earlier, floating in the water, unattended. Here, we start to believethat the shark has attacked the dog, but, as we find out later on in the scene, the director wad just playing with our naivety.
The next event is where you actually realise for sure that
the boy is going to be attacked by the shark, as you can see the
boy’s legs kicking, from the shark’s point of view. This actually
builds up the tension, as the camera view goes from a long-shot
to a close-up of his legs.
When the actual attack occurs, you appear to see it from
Brody’s point of view. You can hear screaming, and a fountain of
blood spurts up. The boy appears to “jump” in the air, but quickly
submerges back into the water. Finally, you just see the shark’
The camera turns to face Brody, who you can see is just
realising what is happening. He looks concerned and helpless, and
he seems to be afraid of the water, but we are unsure why.
After this, general panic kicks in, as people are beginning to
realise what has actually happened. There is a lot of screaming
and splashing, and everyone is stampeding back onto the beach. Everyone just rushes pat the little boy that was singing earlier, and the happy music is starting again in the background, which shows us that the danger has passed.
All of sudden, everything is calm again, and you can hear seagulls in the background. The waves are now really gentle, and some blood washes up on shore, which is followed by the lilo, which has been torn to pieces.
After this second attack, Spielberg slows down the action for about fifty minutes, but I have picked out five devices, that are perhaps used to build up tension.
My first device is the “reward” sign. The sign shows that there is quite a high reward for the capture of the shark, which shows that it is vital that he is caught.
The second device is the beach-closed sign. This is written in red, which usually means danger. I think that this shows that whatever the beach is closed for is something really dangerous.
The next device is the shark book that Brody is reading from. This creates a lot of fear and tension, because it enables you to see just what the shark is capable of.
When Brody and Hooper are cutting open the shark first caught, it creates a lot of tension, as you are expecting the boy to be pulled out, but nothing interesting does get taken out of the shark’s stomach, the tension changes to disappointment.
The final observation I made is the fact that a lot of the main characters are wearing glasses. People have suggested that this makes them look weak, as if the shark should not attack them.
When the first two attacks occur, there are quite a lot of similarities, but that third attack holds a lot of differences.
One of the main differences is the fact that the third attack took place in a pond (which is seen as being safer), and the first two attacks take place in the sea.
In the third attack, you actually see the shark for the first time, but in the other two attacks, not seeing the shark does not make you believe that it is not a shark attacking the victims.
In the first two attacks (especially the first one), the two victims seem a lot more alone and the vulnerable than the guy that is attacked in the third attack, as he has the company of Brody’s son and friends, which is also another difference, as this time Brody’s family was directly connected. The attack was also a lot more graphic the third time around.
Even though, in the third attack, people believe that the shark has been caught, they are still weary of going in the water, because they are aware of what has been going on. However, in the first two attacks, people are unaware of the consequences that await them if they enter the water, and are more confident about going in.
The third attack caused a lot more general panic, and although there was a lot less commotion in the water, than in the first two attacks, it still caught a lot more commotion from the spectators on the side.
Again in the next part of the film, I have found six devices that I believe build up tension and suspense.
My first device is when the fishing line starts to move and music is played at short intervals. This builds up tension, as it makes you wonder what is on the other end of the line. You can see that Quinn thinks it’s a shark, as he prepares himself for the shark to pull on the line.
My second device is when the shark appears out of the water. This is the first time that you actually see the front of the shark, and it allows you to see just what the previous victims had to encounter.
My next device is the fact that Brody goes to the top of the boat, as far away from the water as possible. This makes you feel quite uneasy, as you can see that Brody does not feel safe, and it makes Brody look really vulnerable.
When you first see the shark leaving the docks, you watch them leave through a pair of shark jaws. When I saw this, I immediately thought that Brody, Hooper and Quinn would encounter the shark, and that it wasn’t going to be an easy trip. Seeing the shark jaws also builds up tension.
My fifth advice is when Quinn lies on the radio. He tells people on shore that everything is fine, and they have nothing to worry about, but at this point in the film, they are actually “battling” the shark. This leads the viewers to false pretences, as you can see what is happening, and I got the impression that Quinn did not want the people on the other end of the radio to know the real capabilities of the shark. I also got the impression that Quinn did not want any help, as if it would degrade him, he had to do it all on his own.
My last device is where the music changes, and becomes a more happy song. This happens when the first barrel is attached to the shark, and this leads the viewers to believe that Quinn, Hooper and Brody have virtually beaten the shark, but in fact they are no where near.