Analyse the ways that the director builds suspense and scares the audience in the film jaws

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Steven Spielberg’s all timeless classic Jaws, is a thrilling adventure of man against beast. It takes place on an island that depends on its summer tourist business, when the summer season in threatened by a series of shark attacks three men must battle this shark. Made in 1975 The way in which Steven Spielberg created the characters makes Jaws far more than just an action film. For example, Brody created sympathy because he was new at his job, scared of water and under great commercial pressure from the community to keep open the resort.

In the first half of the film, Brody fights the Mayor who represents commercial interests, while in the second half, when his caution is proven right he fights the shark. There is additional tension between Hooper and Quint, two characters of very different nature. The tension is evident when they are sitting in the Ocra, comparing their scars. Quint frequently insults Hooper about his science, knowledge and even his “city hands”. Spielberg does this to make us, the audience feel uncomfortable.

Humour releases the tension created – often a device used before an attack as it lull’s you in to a false sense of security, like in the drinking scene, where they are singing and joking with each other. This humour is subtly incorporated in to the characters actions and language; in one scene Quint cruses a can, in response Hooper crushes a paper cup. In the opening scene, Steven Spielberg creates a warm, happy atmosphere, people enjoying themselves in a beach setting lit by candles throwing orange and yellow light.

There is a sudden contrast in the next scene where the girl goes in to the dark and eerie sea. Spielberg continues to use this contrast of lighting throughout the film. He also uses silhouettes as they are dark and threatening shapes, which makes us feel uneasy. There is a clever use of wipe shots in the scene on the beach before the second attack. At one point in the scene, people walk in front of Brody and each time it zooms closer to him, then it cuts to looking out to sea (point of view shot).

This shows how he is focused on the sea, which is important as it reiterates how paranoid he is about the shark attacking. It also makes us want the people to move out of the way so Brody doesn’t miss anything. Later on in the scene the camera pans from the sweet innocent child to the sea and then a close up of the stick which a man was throwing for his dog. Here we have a contrast between the calm happy child and the worrying man and it gives us the idea something is wrong.

It also makes us feel uncomfortable and insecure as this contrast suggests that the sweet little boy might be on the shark’s menu next. During most of the shark attacks the camera is at water level. This is a very clever use of the camera as it makes us feel like we are in the water with the people and therefore more in tune with what is happening The award winning score for jaws was composed by John Williams, the “dun dun dun dun” melody was instantly associated with the shark and created tension for us as we new the shark was there, but the actors didn’t; I found this created suspense rather than shock.

When the shark appeared with out this related tune, we were shocked – there was no warning to the shark’s actions. Jaws was created over 25 years ago and it still keeps its title as one of the great classics directed by Steven Spielberg. The movie uses many elements to relax and then excite or scare the audience in repeatedly and in succession. I really enjoyed the film, the fact that the mechanical shark failed to work, forced him to use alternative options to create suspense for the audience; which I found worked to an advantage.

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