Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Film Review: Jaws (1975)

Fig 1
Steven Spielberg's 1975 Jaws is based upon Peter Benchley's best selling novel of which has the same name. It is a classic man vs nature film with the big man eating shark being the nature object. Similarly to Psycho, Jaws consists of little music throughout and is still renowned for one of the most famous sounds in film history with the strings its instantly recognizable and as an audience we associate that sound of the strings with fear, suspense and ultimately - Jaws. From the very begging we are filled with dramatic music and this is said by B. H. Martin in his Jaws review, ''Jaws begins in the darkness of the deep ocean. Before we see anything, our ears are chilled by composer John Williams' menacing two note soundtrack which then builds into that unforgettable frenzy as the unseen shark savages its first victim.'' (Martin, 2012). With the menacing sound track creating tension the audience knows what is about the happen when the shark is approaching (Fig 2.), but is it is done in such a way that you can feel it through the music before the action has happened in front of you.

Fig 2.

Gene Siskel says in his review of Jaws that the characters are not important within the film as that is not the focus of the film when it was being made, he says: ''So far I've managed to avoid describing the story or any of the humans involved in it. That's because what this movie is about, and where it succeeds best, is the primordial level of fear.'' (Siskel, 1999). What Siskel seems to be saying is that the characters do not play an important role within the film but rather the whole film evolves around its soundtrack and the fear it creates within the audience. When looking at Jaws  the none suspense shots and the overall character building is weak in comparison to music composition and anticipation shots, this is where Jaws really shines and why it is well known for its tension caused throughout the film.
Fig 3.
During the film the shark was see to be represented by floating objects or camera angles that make the audience believe that they are viewing from the sharks perspective (Fig 3.). This was explained in Rodger Ebert film review of Jaws, ''Floating objects are used all through the movie to suggest the invisible shark.'' (Ebert, 2000) this was mainly due to the technical difficulties they had with the shark operating on set because of the difficulties that they encountered this was more of a reason to have a recognizable sound that you can associate with the shark so the audience knows what to expect when hearing the dreading violins and orchestra in the background. With the soundtrack being one of the most notorious sounds that you will hear throughout the film industry. Although this film is not the best at character development the use of sounds and the suspense caused throughout is to be desired in the film industry.

Illustration List:

Fig 1. [Film Poster] Jaws (1975), Directed by Steven Spielberg. 
At: (Accessed on 25.02.2014)

Fig 2. [Film Still] Jaws (1975) Directed by Steven Spielberg.
At: (Accessed on 25.02.2014)

Fig 3. [Film Still] Jaws (1975) Directed by Steven Spielberg.
At: (Accessed on 26.02.2014)


Martin, B. (2012) Jaws is Back - Review

At: (Accessed on 25.02.2014)

Siskel, G. (1999) Jaws Movie Review
At: (Accessed on 26.02.2014)

Ebert, R. (2000) Jaws (1975) Film Review
At: (Accessed on 26.02.2014)

1 comment:

  1. A very thorough discussion on the use of sound Anthony :)
    You might have wanted to also talk a little about the idea of the shark as a metaphor; for castration anxiety, class power, male sexual identity.... the list goes on! :)
    Be careful of your spelling; you have 'From the very begging ' instead of 'beginning', and 'dreading violins' instead of 'dreaded'... don't rely on spellcheck, always read it back to yourself!

    Also - most other reviewers have been writing this too - it is 'man-eating' with a hyphen.... ' a big man eating shark' to me brings up a different picture altogether! (There is a description of a panda out there somewhere that claims it 'Eats, shoots and leaves'....the dangers of a misplaced comma!)