Jaws – a review

 

 

The pace of the editing speeds up through this scene, as the shark becomes closer to attacking. This happens firstly when the children enter the water. There is lots of splashing and sound which helps to increase the pace until the attack can be seen in the distance. As Brody realises what is happening we are given a simultaneous track and zoom shot, which is when the camera is tracking towards him as the lens zooms out. This gives the impression that his whole world is falling away from him and that he cannot believe what he is witnessing.

A shark alert goes off and there is general panic as everyone tries to get out of the water and we are given very quick jump cuts, tracking, panning, close- ups and mid- shots. This agitates us and makes our hearts race. But then all is calm as the camera stays still and we get a mid- shot of the yellow lilo being washed up onto shore. This makes us feel for the mum who is frantically calling out his name. Like the first attack we get the sense that the sea is a scary and ambivalent place, and that it doesn’t care much that a boy has been massacred. The way the story is put together also builds up a lot of tension and fear.

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For example, the first attack is at the very start which puts the audience on edge right from the beginning. Also the first two attacks are close together which builds up the expectation that there will be a lot more attacks to come. Furthermore, at the start of the film Brody’s son is involved which makes us concerned for his safety and our natural empathy for children is an added factor in how we feel during the film. During the meeting where a ban is confirmed the grieving mother whose son was ripped up on his lilo by the shark offers a reward to the public.

The prospect of winning a bit of cash causes chaos amongst the public. People from far and wide come to try and slay the beast from the deep. This is also a very tense part of the story. The harbour is dangerously overcrowded, which plays a serious part in the tension. With all the people going out to sea in packed rowing boats with rods and harpoons, and as we have already seen the size of the shark, we are aware that they are seriously risking their lives. But then a group of men catch a large Shark and there is more chaos in the harbour as the press flock to get site of the beast.

It seems that the problem is over, the beach is safe. Everyone lives happily ever after. Not quite. As Hooper joins the story he steps up to examine the shark. It turns out that the commotion was not needed as the killer is still out there; the shark caught was in fact a large tiger shark, not at all big enough to be the one that had savaged the young woman. Also, when they dissected the tiger shark they discovered a car number plate which makes us imagine what damage the bigger, great white could do.

This news makes us very tense as we feel concerned for the people who have set their hearts in believing the shark they caught was the killer. After the news that a tiger shark had been caught the woman who had put the reward on offer confronted Brody and blamed him for her sons’ death. Brody is deeply hurt by this and as we already know he tried to close the beach, we are made to feel very sorry for him and we are given a low camera shot of him to give the sense of depression. This also makes us want him to prove himself as the hero we can all see.

Brody decides he cannot stand back and watch people being killed in his town. He decides he must go out and kill the shark himself. This also creates lots of apprehension as we already know he is scared of water and so this must be his last resort. The last scene starts very slowly with Quint, the fisherman offering to help catch the shark, talking about the sinking of the battleship Indianapolis during the Second World War. A story of the death of many sailors in the mouths of sharks that highlights the relentless appetite of these beasts.

The editing is very slow here and only cuts to show Brody away form Quint and Hooper. This demonstrates that he is isolated from the other two, which is relevant as we believe that the shark only attacks people who are isolated. Isolation is shown throughout the whole scene. Whenever you see a shot from within the boat, you cannot see land, which shows how they have no chance of getting back to land when the shark attacks. This is also shown in the opening shot of this scene, where there’s back lighting of Brody, so that it shows his silhouette, thus seeing no land behind him.

As the shark attack becomes more immanent, the pace of the scene speeds up in many ways. The most noticeable of these is the pace of the editing. As the scene carries on there is a lot quicker transitions between shots. This builds up pace and suspense in the film. The boat also starts to rock more and the pendant lights start to swing, which speeds up the pace of the film, adding to the suspense. Also as Brody joins Quint and Hooper at the table they start to sing and as the song continues it gets faster and helps to increase the tempo.

The scene then cuts to a water level shot of a barrel and we know the shark is present because the barrel, attached to a harpoon, was earlier shot into the shark. We can still hear them singing as the shark heads towards them. Although it is not greatly present in this scene, yellow is still used as a warning sign of the attack. For example the barrels that are attached to shark are yellow and we can see the yellow cabin lights. We can also tell that the shark is near when you hear the whale dying. Quint starts to sing his song, which he only sings when something is dying (shown earlier on in the film.

) It is here that we know that the shark will attack and makes us brace for a fright. Will they survive, or not? The pattern of death in this scene is the same to the other scenes, which is that the shark only attacks the isolated. This makes use feel very insecure and uneasy. Looking back at the whole film, my scariest moment was in the second attack when we have a low shot of frantic people stampeding out of the water and close- ups of their feet, as it reminded me how hard it is to run through water. Another daunting scene for me was when Brody calls Hooper and they both team up to battle the shark.

This is a very tense moment in the storyline. It is a misty night which makes it feel as though they are isolated and that there is no help if they needed any. The pair notices a boat in the distance and on a closer inspection they see it has obviously been hit by something pretty big. This probably means the shark is within the close vicinity and could well be eyeing up their boat. This made me very nervous as I wait for the shark to burst out of the water and crash into the hull of their small boat. Everything is still.

Hooper decides to put on his scuba diving gear and signals he wants to go for a swim and a closer inspection. This adds tension. Just to top it all off, his last words to Brody are ‘Everything will be alright; I’ll be back in a minute’. Everyone knows the famous things not to say or do in a horror film and this man has broken rule number one. By now I am sitting on the edge of my seat, bladder fit to burst waiting for the shark to swallow him whole. He dives into the depths and swims calmly up to the boat. He looks at the hull and finds a shark tooth.

Hooper looks around and in comes the Leitmotif. Hooper glides right up to the hull and peers into a hole in the ship. The tension has reached its peak and to everyone’s shock, and to a lesser extent disappointment, Hooper does not get eaten, a dead body shoots out of the hole and Hooper shoots backwards. He drops the shark’s tooth and frantically swims to the surface. Gasping for air as he climbs aboard and the scene ends. This was without a doubt the tensest moment of the film and as I regain my breath there is a total change of scene and we are back in sunny Amity.

For me this is undeniably the scariest moment in the film because as you are so prepared for a shark to jump out, as indicated by finding the sharks tooth and the leitmotif starting, the half eaten corpse pops out at you so unexpectedly that it makes you jump ten times as much. However, if you were to watch the same scene the second time, it is not at all alarming and in fact it looks awful rather than frightful, as we focus more on the primitive special effects, rather than on the effects it is meant to give.

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