New video essay series, The Discarded Image, looks back at ‘Jaws’

jaws-beach-panic1

Spielberg doesn’t serve up mass quantities of blood and gore, but what makes Jaws work is his confident direction, which draws the audience into relaxing at precisely all the wrong moments. Spielberg’s meticulous attention to creating suspense recalls the best of Hitchcock. Jaws remains tense by not showing audiences the shark for the majority of the film. For the first hour, the only glimpses we catch of the beast are fleeting and indistinct. The camera doesn’t dwell upon it until the final act. We are only treated to a long hard look at the shark when it passes by the deck of the ship, setting up the film’s most memorable line, “We’re going to need a bigger boat.” In the final scenes, it becomes apparent why the shark gets so little screen time – it looks fake. Spielberg openly admits that if the technology had been better, he would have shown the shark more often. Ironically, it is this handicap that resulted in the film’s greatest strength. By keeping it hidden from the audience, the movie effectively builds suspense and the end result is an edge-of-your-seat thriller. The Discarded Image is a new online video series that analyses and deconstructs well known pieces of cinema, and in their first first episode, they look at the famous beach scene from Spielberg’s pop classic. Enjoy!

****

The Discarded Image: Episode 01 – Jaws (Spielberg, 1975) from 1848 Media on Vimeo.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Scroll to Top