The director, Speilberg attempts to leave his audiences apprehensive and uses suspense to grip the audience, he uses this format of tension to keep the audience watching because they want to find out what is going to happen next. This is best used with Brodie after the viewers have grown to like him and assigned him the “heroes” role. The film is set in a quite, uneventful town. Nothing seems to ever happen. This is shown by the locals hassling the police department over trampled flowers and other seemingly insignificant problems. This builds tension because of the fact that it will badly affect the area and you do not know what could happen.
The island is a very touristy area in summer. This is the main income for locals, which causes a conflict between the islanders over the safety of the area. The tourists also cause a lot of commotion and provide plenty of targets for the upcoming problem. Amity Island is a small island, “calm” sea surrounding it with stretches of beautiful golden beaches, it is the complete opposite from Brodies hometown of New York.
The “action hero” of the film is portrayed as the police chief, officer Brodie. He is a newcomer from New York and therefore is used to blazing guns rather than quite sunny stretches of beaches. From the start of the film he seems “misplaced” on the island due to his fear of the Sea and water in general. This creates tension because you are always thinking about how he will overcome a sea dwelling terror if he will not set foot in the sea. This leaves you pondering over the question can Brodie overcome his fear or will he be beaten?
As if the title didn’t give it away and you have not twigged on, here comes the bad guy. A 25ft king of the sea, the Great White Shark. Larger than most boats in the Amity harbour it seems that this monstrosity is unbeatable! In rolls another two “heroes”. One fitting the role perfectly, a big built hard man with a beard, sideburns, jeans, a jacket and a knife in his back pocket. This is Quince. The second of the two is an unusual character to be fighting to save a town of innocent people is in the weedy form of the scientist Hooper.
The first time the shark is brought to our attention is when two teenagers who have been drinking heavily are doing naughty stuff on the beach when they decide to take a dip in the water. They both proceed towards the sea with the male quite obviously worse for wear! The girl takes her clothes off and dives into the sea, the boy attempts to follow but only makes it to the water edge where he proceeds to vomit and pass out! The audience is alerted that something is about to go wrong with a young couple on the beach. The male is lying almost unconscious dangerously close to the incoming shoreline. The female is in the sea, drunk and a fair distance from the beach with the only person to look after her being the half-dead male on the floor.
The music changes to the sound of the “Jaws” theme tune which speeds up until the victim is eventually attacked from underneath by the shark. She is then thrown around for a while until she gets dragged under. The music stops and the picture fades to black, the next view is of the same stretch of the beach but the morning after. There is silence except for the lapping waves and the eerie noise of the sea bells.
Every good movie has the bad guys! Speilberg follows suit and portrays his human villain in the form of Amity’s mayor. He is a selfish, pompous and ignorant overweight man who disagrees with every point Brodie brings to him. The mayor helps to build the tension as he has the power to save the day but chooses to take risks to pursue business ventures. He is informed quickly by Brodie of the sharks’ presence but decides to overlook it as a one-off and to Brodies disgust keeps the beach open. This also creates on-screen tension between the two characters which therefore creates tension within the audience.
Brodie and the mayor’s personal “feud” continues throughout the film and keeps high tension throughout. After Brodie has finally convinced the mayor to shut the beach. This loses lots of business and the townspeople are less than happy. To keep them on his side he makes it a 24-hour ban. This starts to create probably the most tension in the entire film. The ban leaves Brodie needing to catch the massive shark and only having 24 hours in which to do it. If he fails or runs out of time this could cause many peoples deaths.
During the meeting where the ban is confirmed a grieving mother whose son was ripped up on his lilo by the shark offers a reward to the public. Anyone who can prove they killed the shark would receive 3,000. This causes absolute hysteria amongst the public. People from far and wide come to try and slay the beast from the deep! This is also a very tense part of the story. The harbour is dangerously overcrowded, which plays a serious part in the tension. With all the people going out to sea in packed rowing bouts with rods and harpoons, as the audience has already seen the size of the shark we are aware that they are seriously risking their lives.
A group of men catch a large shark, there is even more hysteria in the harbour as the press flock around. It seems that the problem is over, the beach is safe! Everyone lives happily ever after! Not quite! The point of arrival for Hooper and he steps up to examine the shark. It turns out that the commotion was not needed as the killer was still out there, the shark caught was in fact a large Tiger shark not at all big enough to be the one that had savaged the young woman.