Steven Spielberg

The fearful film Jaws is about a great white shark, which attacks on living prey. It was set in the East Coast of USA in 1977, directed by Steven Spielberg, and adapted from the book written by Peter Benchley. Extracts from the film were compared to those from the novel. In this essay I will be discussing the comparison of the novel and the film. Suspense is created in this film in several different ways and begins from the start of the film. The very first clip of the film was from the shark’s perspective and underwater, there is eerie music playing with the credits screening.

It’s also dark which has a scary effect, as it’s traditional that scary things happen at night and that is what most people believe. During this scene, the music gets louder and more dramatic. There is a sudden bang and the scene changes. This helps with the creation of suspense as we expect something to happen but then the film just moves on. The following scene is of a party on the beach, with a different type of atmosphere. People are laughing and singing therefore not as much suspense is created. We suspected that as this is a horror film, the ‘party goer’s’ happiness would be destroyed.

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A girl and boy who met at the party, run along the beach, they are both drunk making them more vulnerable. While the girl is running, she is taking of her clothes. It is still fairly dark and we cannot clearly see the characters which suggests the main characters are more at risk. As soon as the girl jumps into the water, silence strikes. A quiet and spine-chilling atmosphere is formed, causing anxiety and confusion in the audience. We may suspect the boy jumped in after the girl and supposedly attacked her, as she was drunk and he may want to take advantage of her or use her.

The silence here is a supportive way to create anticipation as it keeps the audience ‘on the edge of their seats’. Before the girl is attacked, the camera is below her. We would think the shot is being taken from the shark’s perspective proving how close the shark is to her. Similarly to the beginning, the eerie music starts again and steadily gets louder as the camera moves towards the unfortunate human. This creates a gradual effect and we know that as soon as the camera, representing the shark, comes in contact with the girl, it will attack.

When the girl is attacked, the music stops and is replaced with the girl’s screams. She is dragged underwater but manages to pull herself back up, this takes place continuously. We cannot see what is happening underwater, although this doesn’t show gruesome clips, it helps the audience to use a mind of their own and lets them create their own attack. Overall I think the film is a great suspense and tension creator and both are created in a similar way. I think that the music and flashing effects while the girl is being attacked are the best way that can keep the audience petrified.

Jaws not only is a frightening film but also an exhilarating novel, written by Peter Benchley in 1977. The novel is very similar to the film but suspense and tension are created in a different way, as in the film music and special effects can help but in the novel an atmosphere must be produced by the written word. In the opening chapter, the scene is set by the introduction of the shark. This is dramatic as tension and fear are injected into our minds from the moment we read; the fish is described with words such as ‘great’ and ‘primitive’.

The first couple of sentences up to the point where the man and woman are introduced are equal to the credits and eerie music from the film, so the difference in presenting suspense is showed through words and a strong opening in the novel. However music is the main suspense creator in the film. At this point the sharks’ movements are not intimidating or alarming, so the increase in tension is gradual. We can tell the actions are unthreatening as words such as ‘aimless’ ‘slight raising’ and ‘lowering’ are used.

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