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Jaws (1975)
Media Coursework

Peter Benchley wrote "Jaws" the novel before it was made into a film directed by Steven Spielberg. "Jaws" is a thriller/horror with the main aim being to build up suspense and tension. When making the film Jaws Steven Spielberg had to face the challenging task of translating Benchley’s popular novel into a hit movie whilst still maintaining the suspense created through the many textual devices used by Benchley, such as language techniques and sentence structure. Spielberg managed use different camera angles and shots alongside lighting effects to create atmosphere and tension to pretty much the same effect. In the background he uses music and sound effects to add to the dramatic visual images he creates. Finally Steven Spielberg uses specific dialogue to show the victims feelings and emotions. The film jaws is a horror film focused on a great white shark which terrorises the beach of Amity island and kills anything in its way until finally the police chief Martin Brody brings together a select few to take on the shark and put an end to the terror and killings. The film uses frequent point of view shots to increase the viewer’s tension and give a sense of firsthand experience as well as hiding the appearance of the shark forcing viewers to use their imagination to form an idea of the shark’s appearance. This is a clever technique as it allows the viewers to imagine the shark as what they individually perceive as scary. It also plays on the idea that the less you see the more you get. Because most of the time the audience is not actually shown the shark, Spielberg uses a repetitive background sound (non-diegetic sound) to alert the audience of potential danger or the sharks presence. This technique relies on the audience to subconsciously associate the sound to the shark’s presence and can be later used to create false tension. The first time we hear this music is in the title sequence where the camera is at a point of view shot of the shark. The shark, increases its speed in conjunction with the music’s increasing in tempo, demonstrating the incredible speed that the shark is capable of moving and giving a sense of its power. Music in the film can also be used to deceive viewers such as in the first scene. Both the frame and soundtrack cut abruptly to a group of teenagers who are drinking alcohol and smoking cannabis around a bonfire. In the background we hear the sound of a harmonica being played. This seemingly calm scene lures the viewer into a sense of security as they see the youths socializing and the orangey glow of the bonfire represents warmth and a welcoming atmosphere. The bonfire being the dominant light source is interesting. Fire has a number of different meanings. Its use here resembles safety, casting away shadows. The teenagers are protected by this light, but their safety is compromised when they leave the proximity of the fire. However, although it can provide warmth and comfort, it is often used to signify evil things such as hell, and the use of the fire could also be read as a warning signal of what is to come. Spielberg is again making us psychologically unstable and insecure. This scene is a pan shot which also suggest there is less likely to be action. As the scene progresses Chrisy, a young girl who has just been flirting with a guy at the bonfire runs away into a remote section of the beach while the young man is following her. Here the lighting is much darker but the soft sound of waves still keeps the viewer relaxed. As Chrisy runs towards the water it is as if she is leaving the safety of the fire because she is tempted to swim. At closer inspection this seems a very random act of temptation as if it was almost meant to happen. The guy following Chrisy is also acting upon his temptations. Later this could be interpreted as an occurring theme in the story. It is at this point the scene changes, as the pair is running Chrissies initially humorous voice is...
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