Jaws Media Essay
“Jaws” is a thriller film directed by Steven Spielberg. The film is about a great white shark that cause havoc to the small township of Amity, New England. The film is set around the 4th of July with the shark's first victim dying only a few days prior to one of the busiest days of the year, t. This is significant because in the USA the 4th of July is one of the biggest national holidays of the year, nearly all Americans will not be working and as it is in the middle of summer many Americans will be enjoying themselves relaxing on the beach. This makes the shark seem like a greater threat and emphasises the fact that people are going to be killed because as the higher amounts of people obviously increase the likelihood of a death. Another factor to take into account is that as Amity is a “summer island” the majority of the island's income comes from the tourists who come for the summer holidays and a shark attack that could potentially ward off tourists would be devastating for the island's economy.
Throughout the film Spielberg creates a tense atmosphere through the use of different cinematic techniques and especially putting emphasises on non-diegetic sounds and music.
The start of the film begins with a point of view shot of 'something' swimming through the water with the non-diegetic Jaws theme music playing the background. Near the climax of the theme, music the word JAWS appears on the screen. This immediately connects the music with the presence of the creature called Jaws.
The scene quickly cuts to a typical teenage beach party. There is a fire in the middle of the group alcohol being passed around and even a harmonica playing relaxing, “happy music”. As this music relaxes us it lures us into a false sense of security and we are less able to cope with the upcoming tension. We see a high angle shot of the group before the scene cuts to a panning wide angle shot of the vast sea. There is a buoy in the water with it's bell ringing with a flashing red light, from this point on we know something awful is going to happen. The camera follows Chrissie as she runs along the beach. With her boyfriend chasing behind her but having difficulty keeping up as he is obviously drunk although he claims otherwise, she is the first to enter the water. As she enters the water the theme starts to play. She swims out to the buoy but as she approaches it she begins to get pulled under by something very strong and powerful as Chrissie cannot free herself from it's grips. She begins to panic and starts to kick her legs and scream. We do not see what it is but as the theme is now playing we begin to sense that it may be the shark. In the middle of the attack it briefly cuts to Chrissie's boyfriend in which he is lying on the beach, this is a complete contrast to the panic and screaming we heard form Chrissie only moments before. After a small struggle Chrissie is submerged, never to come back up while her boyfriend is left lying on his back on the sand.
There are several things that we should take note of in this scene, firstly there is a fire in the middle of the group, this is ironic as since ancient times fires have been used to prevent large predators such as wolves attacking human settlements. However this cannot prevent the shark. The high angle shot is also important as this is a cinematic technique used throughout the film, it shows vulnerability, especially as you see the extreme long shot of the sea behind them, compared to the sea the teenagers are insignificant, it overwhelms them. Thirdly the sky in the brief shot of Chrissie's boyfriend lying on his back is red, throughout the film the colours red, orange and yellow are used to symbolise danger. An example would be Alex Kitner's red swimming trunks and his mother's yellow hat. Lastly a huge amount of tension is built up in this scene. Following Chrissie's shark encounter we are left watching her “not drunk” boyfriend pass out on the beach,...
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