Filmic Techniques Used in Jaws

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How does the director Steven Spielberg use filmic techniques to build suspense and tension for the audience in the film Jaws?

Steven Speilberg directed the epic blockbuster film,Jaws, alongside producers David Brown and Richard D. Zanuck. He is an American film director, producer, screenwriter and undoubtedly one of the most influential personalities in the history of filmmaking. Additionally, Spielberg is the highest grossing filmmaker of all time and his movies have earned in the region of four billion dollars internationally! He is also eminent for the direction of numerous other films after the release of Jaws, such as: E.T The Extra-Terrestrial, Jurassic Park, Schindlers List and Saving Private Ryan. Over the span of his career, Spielberg’s films have approached a diverse array of themes and genres. Throughout his earlier years, his adventure and sci-fi films were often renowned as typical of modern Hollywood blockbuster filmmaking; though in his later years as a director, he incorporated aspects of historical concern: war, slavery, terrorism and the Holocaust. The plot and events occurring throughout the course of Jaws were based upon the best-selling novel written by Peter Benchley. His previous works included the books: Island, Creature and The Beast-though none of these matched the success of Jaws. Benchley was inspired by the Jersey Shore shark attacks which took place during the summer of 1916- in New Jersey. Unlike the film, which is a taut and cerebral thriller, the novel is an entertaining account of the genuine outcome of having a giant killer shark sucking the economy dry. Whilst the film is suggestive and direct, the novel is explicit and somewhat convoluted, including subplots of mafia relations in the community, marital infidelity and an implication of supernatural influence. The novel was then directed by Spielberg and adapted by Universal Studios for motion pictures. If there was ever any justification for being petrified of sticking a toe in the ocean, it's Jaws! The tagline for the film, "Don't go in the water," indeed kept a lot of 1975 summer beachgoers and shark-hysterical swimmers wary; the film generated hysteria amid masses. Jaws was originally released in 1975, with use of a combination of methods which build suspense, tension and startle the audience. The tag line of the movie ‘Don’t go in the water’ successfully sums up the plot, tone and overall theme of the film and creates an interest for those who want to discover the dangers lurking amongst the waters. Spielberg integrates several factors that construct the film and impact the audience: a variety of camera angles to show facial expressions, diegetic and non diegetic sounds and precise organisation of the set and mise en scene. This allows the audience to associate signs and symbols with certain events; for instance, yellow is used as a signifier throughout the film. Historically, Spielberg was the first person to direct a "human vs. shark" film! In general, Jaws follows the novel from which it derives its title, however Spielberg downplayed certain aspects of the plot in favour of suspense and action. It has been regarded as a watershed film in motion picture history and became one of the first high concept films. The classification rating for Spielberg’s film is age twelve, due to the general suspense, tension and overall petrifying and horrific scenes. Jaws is widely regarded as one of the greatest films of all time, including holding the title of number forty eight on American Film Institute's 100 Years...100 Movies. Spielberg's masterpiece–arguably his best work- set the benchmark for summertime blockbusters and so far few have been able to match its sheer ability to grip an audience. The film received many critics, some saying "it's a white-knuckle ride into terror” and others saying "Jaws has changed the course of film making." However, generally most people concur that the film stood the...
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