A study of Jaws

The film I am studying is called Jaws. The title is one direct word, straight to the point. When you hear the word ‘Jaws’, you immediately think of a mouth and teeth. So you then automatically think of a shark because it has the biggest mouth out of all animals. Jaws, is directed by Steven Spielberg. He has directed many other blockbuster films, such as, Jurassic Park, E. T. and the Indiana Jones Series. Following the success of the first Jaws film, another director decided to jump on the bandwagon and created Jaws 2 and 3, which Spielberg did not want to direct.

Spielberg is a well know director, and has created films of all kind of genre. But nevertheless always seems to produce an excellent film, which is liked by people of all ages. Jaws was first created as a novel by Peter Benchley, due to the great success of the book Spielberg decided to turn it into a blockbuster film. The film is focused on a massive killer shark, which is terrorising people who are spending a holiday at Anity Island. The main character, other than the shark, is Brody who is chief of Police. The storyline is centred on Brody, who is trying to kill the shark in order to stop any more casualties.

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The film is set on the 4th July at Anity Island. Anity Island is a stereotypical American holiday resort. This shows that this event could have happened at any holiday resort throughout America and that Anity Island was just unlucky it happened to it. By the end of the film we always associate the same music with the shark. We first heard the music when the opening sequence started, with the opening credits. The music starts slow and quietly, but then keeps speeding up and getting louder and louder. The music made it seem as something was getting closer and closer.

You knew that this ‘something’ was not a human, as when the creature swam through the reeds; it did not stop and move the reeds out the way with its hand. But instead just swam straight through them. After the first attack, which was late at night, there was silence after the victim got pulled down into the water for the last time. This created tension because as the music grew silent, the audience knew the girl was dead. Another example of when sound was used to use tension was also in the first attack. This happened when you could hear happy music and laughter further up on the beach.

Also usually red would be associated with danger and blue with calmness. This is called semantics (colour association). But in this case the red blazing fire is associated with warmth and comfort, and the dark blue sea is associated with coldness and danger. This is because there is a shark waiting in the water. This created suspense because the audience could anticipate something happening to the girl as she entered the water. In the second attack, the music is used greatly in accordance to the shark. At first you see all the legs kicking in the water; you see this as if you were the shark looking up at the legs from beneath.

As the shark gets closer to its victim the music starts speeding up and getting louder and louder. When everyone has run out of the sea, the music grew silent, whilst a ripped up lilo drifted up onto the beach. As the music went silent, the audience once again knew that the shark had taken another life. This is because music is usually associated with death and peace. In the last attack the used every single time, that the shark approaches the boat. Getting faster and louder as the shark got nearer. In the middle of the last attack, the atmosphere is lightened, by some happy drunken singing.

But then suddenly the shark music starting to play again and the shark ramming itself into the boat creates the tension once again. This was another example of how music can change the atmosphere suddenly. The odd thing is though when the shark is approaching its victim an orchestra can suddenly start playing music out of no where, as in the case with many films. But I do understand that this music helps build the tension and atmosphere around the room/atmosphere. (Although in the film ‘Titanic,’ there was actually an orchestra playing on deck).

At the beginning of the film Brody knew their was a dangerous shark around, but know one would believe him except for one person. This created tension because the audience knew that Brody was telling the truth. This also created suspense because people were still entering the sea because no one would listen to Brody. In the second attack, the camera starts by following the boy, who would later get attacked. This draws attention to the victim right from the start. The cameraman uses a panning technique to follow the boy, up the beach to his mother. The camera then went to a mid shot of the Mum and her Son.

The boy asks his Mum and how long he has left in the water, his Mum answers by very precisely saying his name and following that saying he had ten minutes left. This creates suspense because the audience feel that the attack could be imminent. The camera then zooms in on Brody, who is looking very nervously out to sea. This is because he is one of the only people who know there was a shark attack the previous night. The camera then zooms to a man and his dog, a stick is thrown into the water for the dog to chase. Therefore as expected the dog runs into the sea to retrieve it.

Following this the camera zooms out and shows a high shot of the number of people in the Sea and the number of people currently entering it. This creates tension because the audience can see that there are many potential victims for the shark to choose from. The camera then once again zooms out to sea, where the dog suddenly gets pulled under the water. This creates more suspense because the audience would fee that the shark may be around at this current moment, so the attack will probably happen soon. The camera then pans across the sea, to the boy you saw at the start of this sequence.

He is playing, in the sea, on his orange lilo. The camera then goes back to a close up of Brody, who is still watching the sea. Brody unexpectedly stands up. As he saw something black swimming in the sea. At this point the audience are on the edge of their seats, as they think the attack is going to happen any second. But then an old man stands up wearing a black swim hat. So this was just a false alarm. Straight after this, once again Brody spots something suspicious happening in the water. There is a girl screaming and panicking in the Sea. But again this is a false alarm, as the girl is only mucking about with her boy friend.

The camera now moves off Brody onto a group of boys who are sprinting into the water. This is the kind of thing that attracts sharks, splashing etc. So the suspense is built up even more by the director. The camera then suddenly switches to legs kicking under water, and you are seeing these legs in the view of what the shark would see. As this happens the music, now associated with the shark, begins. The camera then zooms out to show a long shot of the sea, where you can see the poor boy being attacked by the shark. This is the first actual time that you see the shark.

As Brody realises what is happening, he runs about panicking and makes everyone get out of the water. Everyone sprints out of the water. Just as the last person exits the music goes silence. Then slowly a orange, ripped up lilo washes up on the shore. At this point, the audience know that the young boy has been the second victim of the shark (or third depending whether you count the dog). The first time when you really know the ‘killer’ is a shark, is after the first attack. When the doctors are examining the girl’s body, they can tell by the bite/teeth marks, that a shark had killed the girl.

This is the first time that Brody knew they had a big problem on their hands. The second attack was the first time the audience really got to see part of the shark. Before now the audience had been relying on what the doctors and Brody had said. In this attack you saw quick flashes of the shark. The director did this so you could see for yourself how large and dangerous the shark is. In the second attack the music is used once again so now the music is most definitely associated with the shark. At the start of the final sequence the character, who will later be eaten by the shark, tells you his life story.

This is always used in films or TV. programs. More often than not the character(s) will tell you their life story or a bit about themselves, just before they die. This is so you can tell what kind of life they have. This also creates great suspense because from this point on the audience are just waiting for this character to be killed in some way, most obviously by the shark. Also after you have heard this characters life story, you become emotionally attached to this person. So if anything happened to him, you be left feeling very sad and sorry for this character. This also adds to the suspense.

In the final sequence, music is once again used greatly to tell the audience what as happened or too create suspense and tension. For example in the middle of the final sequence the crew members, get a little drunk and start having a jolly sing song and a laugh. By hearing this, the audience feel calm and relaxed and may even have a giggle themselves. But then suddenly the shark rams itself into the side of the boat, which makes the whole audience jump, as the start to brace them selves for the next attack. In this sequence you get to see the shark fully for the first time, during the final sequence u get to see more and more of the shark.

The director has done this to create suspense, because at this point the audience is itching to see the shark. From the flashes of the shark you get the general feeling of how large and menacing the shark really is. So the suspense keeps on growing until bowling point when finally u see the shark in full. At the end of the film when the shark has been killed, silence is once again used; this is because silence is associated with death and peace. Right at the very end of the film after the shark ahs been killed, the director makes certain that their could possibly be a Jaws 2.

As sharks do not necessarily need a mate to reproduce. So a shark could have already born who is just as big as menacing as his father! But actually it is quite disappointing. This is because when this film was made, the technology was reasonably poor. This is one of the main reasons you didn’t see hardly anything of the shark before this point of the film. But what the audience had seen of the shark so far had been generally pleasing. Especially the part when one of the crew members was being attacked in the cage. This is because they actually used a smaller shark to film the close ups on.

So when finally the shark swam up onto the boat, it looked extremely unrealistic. So the audience would have gone away at the end of this film, with a slight look of disappointment on their faces. This is because the poor model of a shark. The part of the film which I found the most scary was when the decapitated head, suddenly rolled out from underneath the boat. Saying this though, I didn’t really find and of the film scary, but if I had to choose I would got for this one. Watching this film now, in 2003 the special affects and models of the shark are quite naff.

Compared to other horror films which are out today, e. . Jeepers Creepers, Jaws is like the ‘tweenies’. But I suppose if you saw the film when it was first released then it would have probably been quite terrifying. In the second attack when the boy is being eaten you see all this blood squirt up into the air, which looks nothing like what would have happened if this was a real life event. Also when you see side shots of the shark they are actually using cardboard cut-outs! So overall I don’t rate this film as being scary at all, but overall I think the way Spielberg creates suspense and tension makes for an all round excellent film!