Jaws is a 1975 horror/thriller film directed by Steven Spielberg, based on Peter Benchley’s best-selling novel inspired by the Jersey Shore shark attacks of 1916. The police chief of Amity Island, a fictional summer resort town, tries to protect beachgoers from a great white shark by closing the beach, only to be overruled by the town council, which wants the beach to remain open for the 4th of July (Independence Day). The mayor knows that if the beaches are closed the town’s tourist profit will go down dramatically! After several attacks, the police chief enlists the help of a marine biologist and a professional shark hunter…
Of course the movie is fictional but very realistic and believable since the directors used new revolutionary techniques such as new special effects, camera angles and music. Just by hearing the name of the movie you know some thing bad is going, you know someone is going to get eaten therefore before even seeing the film the atmosphere is tense and because it’s set in the water, a very vast unknown territory for men it unleashes the fear of the unknown … The director uses both diegetic and non diegetic sounds to create tension in the audience by juxtaposing periods of high tension to low tension creating a roller coaster of emotion.
For example in the opening scene we see the water from the sharks point of view and we can slowly here the jaws music (theme tune) build up creating a high tension, it then suddenly changes the scene to a beach were people (hippies) enjoying themselves (drinking, taking drugs ect… )and you can hear a cheerful harmonica and guitar playing . The opening scene is focused on 2 characters . A girl and a boy . At one moment the girl runs away from the boy and of course he chases her ! We suddenly can see the warmth and light of the campfire and into the darkness and insecurity of the beach.
We can here the comfort of the campfire slowly getting quieter and quieter… Since the boy is drunk and probably stoned he cant keep up with the girl and passes out on the beach, the girl then jumps in the sea- without him . She swims away and you can slowly here the music build up and you can see the view from the sharks watching her under the water, by then the music is getting louder and louder (theme tune) therefore the audience know something bad is going to happen to the girl and they all know she’s probably going tot die . of course the girl doesn’t expect the attack and once the shark attacks the music is very loud and tense .
the girl tries to escape and holds on to a bell floating but the strength of the shark is too strong and she is taken underwater. As soon as she goes under water everything goes silent except one thing -The bell. .A ringing bell usually represents death. Also the fact that after the attack its completely silent sets high tension because it makes you fill like the attack is really sudden and that he leaves like he arrived -fast. In the title sequence we see the shark swimming in the water and we can hear the “Jaws” theme tune in the background .
It makes the audience know somehow that whenever that music starts someone will be attacked and that created tension because the audience knows what’s happening but the victim doesn’t… The jaws theme tune is always played when we see the shark’s point of view in the water. All through the movie the director uses many different camera angles and to give different effects for example in the second attack (quick recap of the second attack. Brody is worried because he knows something is going to happen. A little kid goes into the water with a yellow Lillo, a teenager is throwing a stick into the water for his dog to go and fetch.
Teenager looses his dog which is in fact eaten by the shark. Boy gets attacked, massive panic on the beach, the boy Lillo is thrown on the beach by the waves half eaten … ) the director uses those techniques to build tension in the audience. At the start of the scene the director uses lots of close up and over the shoulder angle . first off he uses a lot of close-up so you can see the characters face especially Brody’s face because he wants the audience to see how tense he is because he knows something bad is going to happen and so do the audience.
He also uses over the shoulder camera angle so when a character talk to another character the audience can see what’s happening behind, in this case its Brody watching the sea and the director uses that to his advantage to create a roller coaster of emotion by creating some short burst of tension ( the 2 main examples are the bit were the old man swims with his swimming hat one towards that fat floating woman and the bit were that young woman screams not because she’s being attacked but because she’s being picked up by her boyfriend ) .