Suspense in Spielberg's Jaws
The second attack starts with the boy, who is about to get attacked
walking up to the beach to talk to his mother. In this very first
tracking shot of the scene we see all the main characters: the boy who
is attacked (Alex Kintner), his mother, the dog and its owner. All of
these main characters and a one other who meet a bit later all have
something on them which is yellow. I think that Spielberg has done
this for three reasons firstly to make them stick out from the other
people on the beach, secondly because we usually signify the colour
red with danger, so, as they are wearing yellow they obviously don’t
feel that there is any danger, this is a form of dramatic irony, and
thirdly because July 4th is approaching and this day represents
independence and new life for the Americans, the color yellow it’s
often used to signify Easter and new life.
The use of the tracking shot on Alex immediately makes us think that
he is going to get attacked, and so right from the beginning of the
scene tension starts to build in the audience. We then see the boy
holding hands with his mother for what is going to be the last time.
He asks his mum if he can get his raft and go back in the water,
because the audience has thought that he is going to be attacked his
mum agreeing to let him go back in for 10 minutes will help to
increase the level of suspense and tension.
Later on with use of mid/close-up shots the camera focuses on Chief
Brody’s face staring into the water, as he thinks that something is
going to happen, and every time someone walks past the camera the shot
moves further in on his face. After this has happened twice the camera
then has a long shot out over the sea, then someone walks past and we
see Brody’s face looking directly out into the water again. This shows
us that Brody is very uncomfortable with the beaches being open and
doesn’t believe that the girl who was previously attacked was killed
by a boating accident.
After this has happened Brody’s attention turns to what looks like a
dorsal fin, but is in fact it is just Harry wearing a black hat. We
also fin out from Harry that Brody does not like the water and never
goes in it. Soon after this a man...