Jaws Directed by Stephen Speilberg


This movie was made in 1975 and I recall seeing it at the cinema when it was first released.  Watching the movie today, although now lacks the shock through knowledge still retains it’s power and pure brilliance.

Watching the movie now as a student film-maker I notice the clever cuts for example the scene of Police Commissioner Brody on the deck chair on the beach as he nervously watched the swimmers.  each cut from mid-shot to close-up is timed as a bather walks between the camera and Brody creating a natural break in which to cut.  This is followed by a very good use of the Vertigo zoom as Brody see’s the death of the young boy and his fear of a shark attack is realized before his eyes.  In this scene Spielberg also uses the technique of continuity-editing and montage with the stick for the missing dog.

Another interesting thing I noticed was Spielberg’s use of frame within a frame composition that acted as a motif for Jaws.  One example is after the shark has attacked in the pond and escaped back out to see Brody looks out to sea to where the shark has escaped through the arch of the causeway that is a little like an open mouth.  Later he uses a more obvious motif framing of the Orca leaving harbor framed by the skeletal sharks jaws in Quints workshop.

Another movie technique Spielberg uses is the rule-of-three in which a important facts that the Director wants to subtle put out to the audience are repeated three times for example the compressed air bottles that will be eventually used to kill the shark and also Brody’s repeated suggestion to return to shore to get a bigger boat again subtly implying that they are  inadequately equipped for the task.

Another good example for the student to take note of is Spielberg’s observed use of the 180-rule for example the scene with Brody and his small son at the dinner table and the scene with Brody, his wife and Hooper, to name just two.

In the shot when Brody is watching a female bather in the sea whilst a local-man is trying to ask Brody to to change parking restrictions I notice that Speilberg has used a split-field-diopter in order to keep the man in the foreground and the girl in the background sharp.  You can just make out the blur dividing-line down the picture just touching the mans hairline and shoulder.



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