Jaws Film – English Coursework
The film is called ‘Jaws’; this is significant as it represents what the plot of the movie is, as the theme of the movie is about a shark killing people using his jaws (teeth). As well as this, the title shows the genre of the film is horror. Steven Spielberg directed this film, in 1975. The film was the first summer blockbuster and broke all box office records, it also made Steven Spielberg extremely famous and due to “Jaws”, he then later began to direct and produce further blockbusters. The movie is set in the small town of Amity (friendship), an island in New England.
This is effective because when the shark attacks, it brings more tension to the audience, as the citizens of the town cannot escape, as the sea only surrounds the island. The location, Amity Island, where the movie is set is not real. It was actually filmed in Martha’s Vineyard, on the East Coast of America. Music and silence is often used to build tension, to scare the audience. Non-diegetic sound helps by creating extra tension or by setting a mood. For example, the dramatic, non-diegetic sound put over the top of the title sequence scene, helps to build tension, for the audience.
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This is because that music represents the shark, therefore, when the music comes on again during the movie, the audience would know the shark is coming. Diegetic sound helps, as it makes the film sound more realistic and it creates a less obvious tension. For instance: in the first attack, after Chrissie got pulled under the water, there was silence. Only the sound of the sea could be heard. This is effective because it makes the audience feel anxious, as they know Chrissie is dead and no one heard the attack. Parallel sound is another example of when tension is created.
This occurs when; the radio is playing on the beach, before the second attack. This is efficient because is makes the audience feel safe, as the mood is jolly. It stops playing when the shark is about to attack. This then changes the mood of the audience and makes them suddenly frightened instead. Camera techniques are very useful as well. In the second attack at the beginning, there is a panning shot. It starts at a point and follows a fat woman to the sea and then the camera swings back like an arc, to the beach when a boy comes out of the sea. This quickly shows where the scene is set.
It makes the audience feel safe as there are lots of people and it is a happy place. Afterwards, there are many false alarms. For instance, when Brody thinks the shark’s fin is getting closer towards the fat lady. However, it is actually a man wearing a black swimming cap. This makes the audience feel apprehensive and tension starts to build up. Also, when a girl starts screaming and the audience thinks she is being attacked. Although, she actually just lost her balance, whilst on the boy’s shoulders. When Brody thinks the girl is getting attacked, there is an over the shoulder scene, in the viewpoint of the chief.
This makes the audience exist in the position of the chief. It also, makes the audience only see what he sees; therefore the concentration is of what is in the background, than what the other man if saying to him. Moreover, the colour yellow starts to build up fear. This is because in the movie, yellow is always shown just before an attack. For example, there is Alex’s mother who is wearing a yellow hat, the man with the dog is wearing a yellow T-shirt, Alex floats on a yellow li-lo and finally, the old man wipes his face, with a yellow towel, when he’s talking to Brody.
Later in the movie, the audience realises; the yellow barrels are used to represent the shark. Near the end of the scene, a man is yelling out for his dog, Pippin and then there is a close up of the plank of wood, Pippin had in his mouth. This builds tension, as the audience knows, the shark killed the dog and that the shark is coming. Then suddenly, the scene and music changes. Now, the camera is under the sea and only the legs of the children can be seen. The audience is now in the viewpoint of the shark. This brings tension, as we never see the shark, until it is close to the end of the movie.
Therefore, the audience doesn’t know how dreadful the shark looks. The music is building up faster and louder. The camera gets closer and closer to the legs, of Alex, on the inflatable li-lo. The audience is now very scared, as the shark is about to attack him. Next, there is a wide shot; so the audience can see the horrific attack, due to this, it makes the audience feel shocked and uneasy. Afterwards, there is a zoom shot, which merges into a close up of the chief and at the same time the background looks as if it’s being pulled back.
This is effective, as it looks like it is happening really fast, therefore the audience can really focus on his emotional reaction and this makes the audience worried too. This shot was later known as the “Jaws shot”. Right at the end of the scene, his mother is shouting out his name and there is a close up of the ripped inflatable li-lo. This shows Alex is dead and it makes the audience feel sorry for him. The director builds fear of the shark by music. When the shark gets closer to it is victim, the music gets faster and louder.
This is effective, as it builds tension to the audience, by making them feel anxious. Also, showing all the dreadful damage it can do is effective too, like the time when the man got his leg pulled off, by the shark, in the third attack. This made the audience feel nauseous and disgusted. This also makes the audience feel upset and sympathetic towards the victim. Moreover, the director also builds fear through the characters reactions. This is because the audience; relates to what the characters feel and the audience reacts to the same emotions, as the characters.
Near the end of the movie, the tension and fear is built up, the most. The first two attacks are close together. This is because it sets what the plot of the movie is about. This builds tension for the audience because they are frightened and drawn into the movie; therefore the audience still wants to carry on watching. Then there is a slight gap, until the third attack. This is because the director doesn’t want to loose the interest of the plot. He also wants the audience still to be aware of the shark.
This brings tension for the audience, as Brody’s son, Michael is involved. This makes the audience feel scared for his son, as the film focuses on Brody. Therefore, the audience relates to his character and does not want anything to happen to anyone relating to him. The last scene of the movie brings the most fear and tension, to the audience. As there is only a small boat in the middle of the sea, it makes the audience feel frightened. This is because the characters are not near safety and they can not escape, from the shark. The audience can feel their fear.
Also, when the yellow barrels unattached from the shark, the audience feels scared and tension builds up, as they do not know when the shark is about to attack again. Furthermore, later in the scene, Matt Hooper (shark specialist) goes under the sea in a cage, the music starts to build and there is a close up of the shark, when it attacks. This builds tension, as the audience is worried and scared that he might die. Right at the end of the scene, the shark attacks the boat and the boat starts sinking rapidly. This builds up the tension of the audience, as they are scared, as the audience thinks the characters are about to die.
In conclusion, I think the scariest moment, in the movie was defiantly the part when they find the fisherman, Quint’s boat. Matt Hooper goes under the water and suddenly finds only the head of the body. The reason why, this was so scary was because when he swims under the water, slow classical music starts playing to build up the tension. Then when the head pops-up, a faster high pitched, dramatic, non-diegetic sound is placed over the scene. This is effective because it scares the audience, as it happens instantly.