Jaws Essay

Analyse the ways that the director builds suspense and scares the audience
In the film ‘Jaws’

‘Jaws’ was directed by Steven Spielberg and is based on a best selling novel by Peter Benchley. It’s about a man eating, great white shark who finds itself off the coast of a popular beach in Amity Island. Residents of the Island are being attacked by the lethal shark. It takes a police chief, a marine biologist and a shark hunter to kill it. ‘Jaws’ is set on the 4th of July because it’s a national holiday for all Americans as it’s the day USA was declared independent the UK. Plus the weather is guaranteed to be hot and more people will be on the beach, but more crucially in the water. On the 1st of July 1976 ‘jaws’ was released in the UK where it broke all box office records and showed in over 465 cinemas. ‘Jaws’ won 3 Oscars and another nine wins and 13 nominations including best film music by John Williams. Spielberg said “it was worth every last penny of the seven million to make.” ‘Jaws’ was followed by 3 sequels ‘Jaws’ 2, 3 and 4.

In the title sequence the audience hear the classic piece of suspense music which is used throughout the film to signal the shark’s arrival. Composed by John Williams Spielberg was said to have ‘laughed’ when he first heard the theme, but later described it as being ‘perfect’. Williams wanted the music to sound ‘threatening and used the low pitch to represent the depth of the sea. The tempo of the tune starts ‘adagio’ and fairly ‘piano’ (quiet), hinting to the audience that the shark is about to make an attack, gradually the music builds up to being ‘forte’ and ‘allegro’, creating the tension. Eventually, the theme becomes discordant which signals that the shark is coming closer to an unsuspecting victim until it stops at sudden silence. At this point, the audience are aware that the attack is over and the victim is dead.

In ‘Jaws’ effective camera shots are used to build up tension, if used correctly they can play a big in...