Thriller Genre Research
What is a thriller?
A thriller is a film which revolves around anticipation and suspense. The overall aim of the film is to keep the audience alert and on the edge of their seats. The protagonist in this genre of film is usually faced with a mission or an escape. Thrillers usually have many subgenres such as:
. Action Thriller
. Conspiracy Thriller
. Crime Thriller
Key codes and conventions
The setting in a Thriller is very important and is almost like another character, typically they
are very extreme cases of nature where thrillers are set, for example, Transformers was set
in the desert, 2012 was set on land to begin with then as the film progressed the land slid
into the ocean and earthquakes caused building and most standing building to crumble and
the world to almost fall apart.
The characters in a thriller usually consist of:
. The Hero
. The Villain
. The Donor
. The Helper
. The Princess
. Princesses Father
. The Dispatcher
. The False Hero
Typically, the dispatcher will block the Hero’s path to success, the Princesses Father rewards the Hero, usually the Princess would be the Hero’s reward and finally the Donor normally provides something to help the Hero and the Helper typically helps the Hero with the mission.
Within Thrillers mirrors are used to portray the person’s soul and inner self, they can also foreshadow darkness within certain characters expressing inside emotions they may not actually want to reveal. This is shown in ‘The Black Swan” when Nina shows fear as her dark soul is staring at her with piercing eyes from within the mirror.
Lighting such as ‘Low Key Lighting” created by the use of a back light is mainly used in Thriller films to represent a dark atmosphere which can typically be seen as scary or mysterious and adds dramatic effect as lighting reflects onto the characters and the atmosphere. An example of successful lighting is used in the shadows in the Thriller “Nosferatu”.
The use of sound within the Thriller genre is a very important element. This is because different musical genres within a film can produce different moods which effect the audience in different ways. For example, when Alfred Hitchcock produced “Psycho”, the music used is high pitched, this adds suspense and tension to the film. However, more action Thriller films use loud and jumpy fast paced music, this makes the audience feel excited and emphasises the fast pace of the film.
Thriller films also a wide variety of varying camera angles, which show different facial expressions and body language. By using a wide variety of camera angles it helps to capture every single emotion which is within the film. This makes the audience feel like they’re there with the characters throughout the duration of the film.
- Dark Night Rises 2012
- Shutter Island 2011
- Gone Girl 2014
- Jason Bourne 2016
- Nightcrawler 2014
- Argo 2013
- Don’t Breathe 2016
- Bridge Of Spies 2015
- The Town 2011
- Gravity 2013
The narratives in Thrillers usually consist of someone being kidnapped, murdered or something which causes a negative effect which would then cause the protagonist to take on the mission for example to save the person who has been kidnapped.
Thrillers rely on a large amount of very well done special effects. As well as this big budget films often use stuntmen to help make the film more realistic and means that they do not need to rely as heavily on special effects.
The camera techniques in thrillers are usually kept very steady throughout the film. As the action or main part of the film comes around the camera moves around a lot more to help add effect or pace to the film which is what gives the audience the rush of watching the filming the first place, as it becomes easier to connect with the character and feel what they are going through and you fell part of the film. Sound also plays a key role in this.
The Props generally used in many Thriller films consist of weapons such as guns, explosives, knives etc. These contribute to adding suspense and a lot of tension in a thriller film, especially in particular scenes. The use of weapons can establish to an audience who is the Antagonist or Protagonist, depending on the narrative. Many other props within a thriller film uses aspects from other thriller films such as the shiny knife, the white shower curtain. Thriller films such as ‘ Psycho’, ‘ The Stepfather’ and ‘ What Lies Beneath’ borrow aspects of props from each other, this is likely because they are all thriller films so share the same sort of backstory or storyline.
3 Iconic Thriller Actors
Neve Campbell, is a Canadian actress. She is best known for her role as Sidney Prescott in the horror film series Scream. She got her start appearing in the Canadian television series Catwalk, before she played Julia Salinger in the American drama series Party of Five.
Matthew Lillard, was cast as Shaggy Rogers in the 2002 live action Scooby-Doo film, a role he later reprised in the 2004 sequel Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed. Lillard was chosen as a replacement and voiced Shaggy in the two subsequent animated series, Mystery Incorporated and Be Cool Scooby-Doo!
Rose McGowan, made her film debut in the 1992 comedy Encino Man, where she played a small role. Her performance as Amy Blue in the 1995 dark comedy film The Doom Generation, brought her wider attention, and received an Independent Spirit Award nomination. McGowan then appeared in the 1996 hit horror film Scream and starred alongside Ben Affleck in the 1997 coming-of-age feature Going All the Way.
3 Iconic Producers/Directors
Alfred Hitchcock, was nicknamed the “Master of Suspense” for employing a kind of psychological suspense in his films, producing a distinct viewer experience Hitchcock directed more than fifty feature films in a career spanning six decades and is often regarded as the greatest British filmmaker. He came first in a 2007 poll of film critics in Britain’s Daily Telegraph, which said: “Unquestionably the greatest filmmaker to emerge from these islands”, Hitchcock did more than any director to shape modern cinema, which would be utterly different without him.
Christopher Nolan, after making his directorial debut with Following in 1998, Nolan gained considerable attention for his second feature, Memento in 2000. The praise he received from these independent films gave Nolan the opportunity to make the big-budget thriller Insomnia in 2002, and the mystery drama The Prestige in 2006. He found further success, with the Dark Knight Trilogy in 2005–2012, Inception in 2010 and Interstellar in 2014. His nine films have grossed over US$4.2 billion worldwide and collected a total of.
Brian De Palma, is an American film director and screenwriter. He is considered part of the New Hollywood wave of filmmaking. In a career over 40 years, he is best known for his suspense, psychological thriller and crime films. He directed successful and popular films such as:
. The supernatural horror “Carrie”
. The erotic crime thriller “Dressed to Kill”,
. The thriller “Blow Out”
. the crime dramas “Scarface”,
. The Untouchables
. Carlito’s Way
. And the action spy film Mission Impossible.
Why do Thrillers Appeal?
This type of thriller would appeal to a younger audience compared to the other sub-genres. This is because it involves a lot more guns, car chases and explosions and doesn’t require much thought. It usually attracts men more than a females because of these conventions. However, sometimes females take on the heroic role in films like Tomb Raider and Charlies Angels which attracts a female audience but at the same time would attract a male audience because the heroines are attractive. Examples of action thrillers would be some James Bond films and The Bourne Series.
An older audience would be more likely to attract a wide audience, ranging from teenagers to adults, this is because there are age limits on the films so the younger ages cannot watch them, however this could make the younger people want to watch it even more. It would also appeal to both a male and female audiences as you often see couples going into the cinema. Although there is a wide age range, you have to be a certain type of person to be able to watch horror films. For example, a person with a weak stomach for violence and is easily scared wouldn’t enjoy a horror thriller. Examples of horror thrillers include:
. The Exorcist
This sub-genre of thriller is a combination of both crime films and thrillers which explore successful or failed crimes. They usually emphasize on the criminals rather than the policemen and they usually focus more on action over psychological aspects. Topics include serial killers
Because crime thrillers tend to be similar to action thrillers they attract a similar audience – more of a younger male audience. Examples of crime thrillers include
. Silence of the Lambs
. Ocean’s 11
. Reservoir Dogs.
Reflection On Preliminary Task
In my Preliminary task, I believe overall my editing skills and use of lighting were to a high standard. I used a lighting kit and edited the exposure on Final Cut Pro and also changed the saturation around. This made the antagonist look pale and fearful, and the protagonist appear in bright colour and surrounded by shadow making them appear powerful and surrounded by death and dark thoughts which foreshadows the coming scenes.
When editing I added a muzzle flash. This required me to use the transform tool to maneuver the flash into the correct position to fit the gun. I was also looking for a blood splatter effect to add but could not find any that were free and still what I wanted. However, I experimented with the splatters I had already downloaded and removed the black background so that there was just the blood visible on the screen.
Above shows how I had to alter the blend mode to screen although it is showing it as ‘normal’.
The above picture shows how I accurately added the muzzle flash to fit the screen and the gun using the transform tool.
This screenshot shows I altered the saturation and the exposure to make the protagonist appear powerful and surrounded by shadows.
Ronin Opening Scene
The opening scene in the film ‘Ronin’ largely consists of establishing who the characters are and the location of where the film is set. The gongs and the clashing of swords in the opening titles of the film links back to the samurais in Asia. This being significant as samurais were the warriors of premodern Japan and later made up the highest ranking social class. They were trained to use weapons such as Bows and arrows, spears, guns and their main weapon which was the samurai sword. A Samurai warrior becomes a ‘Ronin’, after the death of his master, this perhaps being a motive to kill out of anger in De Niros case after we presume he has lost his master. The gongs are significant in showing the Ronin warriors being called to prayer. This is contrasting as we associate prayer with being spiritually cleansed and loyal to your God by not committing sins. However how De Niro is acting in the opening scene appears to be going against all of these rules as he does not appear to be doing something which will be positive in any way to serving his God. This straight away makes the viewer believe that De Niro may be the antagonist. The colour of the writing in the opening scene when there is more black than white shows their dark life and the dark nature of the acts they have carried out. The red on black colour shows how their alliance may have changed as the colour red symbolises blood yet also pain and hurt, the black symbolising death. The church in the opening shot links to this and is contrasting to their unholy nature, immediately making the viewer suspicious of what they are to discover and the negative nature of it. De Niro, however is wearing light coloued clothes, confusing the audience as they try to establish whether he will play the antagonist or protagonist role. This also contrasts the dark setting of the underworld in Paris and shows how De Niro in fact may be the protagonist as he is bringing light to a dark situation.
The opening camera shot is an establishing shot, helping us as the viewer to see the contrast between the two sides of the city. This shows how De Niro may be wandering into darkness as he no longer has a master to guide him on the right path. This is significant to the audience as it makes them feel sympathetic to De Niro. The contrast of the light filled Church tower to the dark back streets of Paris where De Niro is also makes the audience suspicious and also feel sympathetic towards De Niro, as we associate these parts of citiesas almost like a slum where money is scarce and living conditions are tough. There is then a cut to another establishing shot but this time of Robert De Niro’s character, this could show how we are taking over the role of De Niro’s master as we are watching over him, following this there is then a cut to a mid-shot of De Niro, this shows that Robert De Niro’s character may have more power than he is initially letting on to, it also makes the audience question whether or not De Niro is actually the protagonist as it is unlike a thriller to show the protagonist almost straight away and the mid shot makes De Niro appear no more significant than anyone else in society. It alos makes the audience feel as if they have an equal amount of power as De Niro. The following cut to an over the shoulder shot of De Niro shows the audience what De Niro is seeing, and directing their focus at the van which pulls up outside the pub helping us to establish what role he may be playing in the film. It also shows De Niro looking down the steps, signifying that De Niro is about to descent into hell or commit a dark crime such as murder. The name of the film linking closely and foreshadowing that murders of some description are to take place in the following scenes of the film. The camera then cuts back to a close-up of De Niro: this time the light behind him casting a shadow over his face. This shows how De Niro has turned evil and left the light of society and normality behind him, making the viewer suspicious of him and making them feel that he is up to some sort of mischief or may be planning something to inflict harm upon others. The colour black is also commonly associated with power and mystery, exactly how De Niro is portrayed in the opening scenes. However, in this shot, De Niro is not in the centre but slightly off to the edge of the frame and is not the main focus. This shows how he is out of kilter with the rest of society and that there may also be a main focus such as someone more powerful than himself. The Mise en scene of the graffiti around De Niro is what in current society is commonly associated with vandalism and criminals again making us suspicious of De Niro and making us think he may be associated with criminal acts and may infer what is to follow in the following scenes and that De Niro may be the protagonist. The graffiti’s significance links to the opening titles of the film, here it looks like the titles have been painted and the rustic look makes it appear like graffiti.
After this, there is a motivated cut to the girl followed by a tracking shot from De Niro’s point of view of the girl entering the pub. This appears very sinister and becomes possible that the girl could either be the target or the protagonist, confusing the audience as the audience initially thought De Niro was to be the protagonist however the attention has now been diverted from De Niro to the girl. The motivated cut also shows that De Niro’s character is to be associated with the girl or that the two are connected in some way. There is also the same sound in this scene as there was in the opening scene when we saw De Niro, forming a sound bridge and linking the two characters together, this making the audiences idea that the two are linked almost certain. The clashing of the swords and the humming noise then come back, this is significant as it climaxed when De Niro saw the girl and by the noise re appearing, it shows that De Niro could be looking for someone or something else. It may also show how the girl may be the protagonist. The noise showing the trepidation the girl is inflicting upon De Niro. The humming then continues throughout, showing how De Niro may be fearful of the girl. Humming is also associated with ‘Tinnitus’, a ringing noise in your ear. This could represent a gunshot close by and the loud gunshot has caused De Niro’s ears to ring, this may also be foreshadowing the future. It also links back to the humming in the start of the film, Which came before the clash of the swords, showing how e Niro may be about to do something wo cause harm or of significance.
As the girl walks into the pub De Niro moves into the light, this shows how De Niro certainly has connections with the girl and has been waiting for her. Now that he is in the light shows that he may not be planning to harm the girl in any way and the girl may even, in fact, be bringing light to the situation hence why De Niro is no longer in the shadows, making De Niro appear less sinister. The girl also takes off her black coat as she enters the bar making her seem less of a threat and appear innocent. This confuses the audience as they believe that the girl, in fact, may have been the protagonist , however the audience no longer knows who the protagonist and the antagonists are. The long black coat also like she is hiding something mysterious or threatening underneath, making us and the other character’s question what her intentions might be. However, the girl taking off her coat could show how she wants to blend in with the rest of the people in the pub and not draw attention to herself. It could also be seen as if she has nothing to hide and is innocent. This places the girl as the victim as it appears she is being surrounded and trapped by the other men in the pub and De Niro as he is looking for ways to access the pub.
The railings in front of De Niro symbolise that there is something physical stopping him from getting to the girl, this makes the audience think that De Niro needs to speak with the girl or give something to her. The camera then cuts from De Niro looking through the railings at the girl to inside the bar, this shows how De Niro is obstructed from reaching his destination. As the girl in the bar is now the centre of attention, this shows that the girl is likely to be key in the film, because of the strange way she is acting and moving like she feels watched or trapped. The audience also gets the idea that it is more than just De Niro and the girl involved in whatever is going on, as the other men in the bar seem suspsicoius. This makes the audience anticipate that something is about to happen on a larger scale, such a as a shooting.
There is then a louder more diegetic sound coming from the bar as there is the sound of drums, signifying importance and gun shots and as they all assemble in the bar the drums shows significance like they are all being called to prayer, linking back to the title of the film ‘Ronin’. as the person in the beanie hat walks into the bar dressed in dark clothing. This makes the viewer believe that De Niro, the person in the beanie hat and the girl may all be associated as they are all wearing the same colour clothes, the colour black making the viewer believe that all of the people involved may be might be a gang or an organization of a dark nature. As the girl enters the bar there is a cut to a point of view angle of the girl, this could show her possibly trying to look for De Niro as she also dodges the man smoking. This gives the idea that he is to be avoided. Maybe he has a reputation, or he is more powerful in some way which we as the viewer are not aware of yet. It then cuts back to the person in the beanie hat, this is showing how the person in the beanie hat too may be watching over the girl, making the audience believe she may in fact be the target. This series of matched cuts shows that the girl is likely to be involved in whatever is going on or what is about to happen. She may also just be the target of the men, such as the person smoking as she physically tries to avoid him. The audience instantly then sees the men as a threat to the girl, and that she may owe something or have something of importance to them as she literally walks around him. A sound bridge is formed between the girl and the smoking man, showing that they are associated in some way making the viewer suspicious, as there is again swords clashing, which is symbolic of a Ronin and also occurred when De Niro saw the girl entering the pub. The ‘No Smoking’ sign above the man in the corner smoking shows his rebelliousness and that he may in fact actually be the antagonist as he is clearly not abiding by the law, it also shows his carelessness of others and that acts involving the law and penalties do not bother him whatsoever, this is portrayed in his very relaxed body language. The smoking man appears in the background of all the bar scenes and appears in one cut with the light above his head. This is trying to show the audience the importance of the man. It is also ironic as we suspect the man smoking is a powerful yet destructive man yet the light is like a halo which angels have, this makes the audience feel uncomfortable as it could be showing he is not even controlled or at all scared of God and is mocking the peace of the angles as he is the complete opposite. and the fact that he is in all the scenes, shows the importance or significance of the man and how the others in the bar may be working for him as he is always watching them. This also links to the unrestricted view of the girl showing how she is always being watched and that there is nothing stopping anyone getting to her other than De Niro, again making the audience believe that he has something to do with her and may be trying to cause harm to her. She also appears particularly vulnerable as she is a female in a bar full of men. The camera then cuts this shows how the men are closing in on the girl and trapping her inside the pub. The light in the window of the bar goes out. This is significant as is symbolises the end, death or that something significant is about to happen and cuts to De Niro walking back into the darkness, linking back to the start of the film when De Niro is in the shadows, showing ow he has gone back to his old dark ways and how he is about to do something which makes the audience curious and makes De Niro appear more mysterious, as this is what we associate the colour black with. The cut shows how De Niro is about to do something of significance as it shows him walking back into the darkness. It could also show his frustration that he can’t get to the girl and he is about to act upon his anger and frustration in a negative manner.
De Niro appears slightly of to the side of the frame, again showing how he may be out of kilter with the rest of society or that there may be something or someone more powerful than him close by. The camera then cuts to de Niro in a centre frame in the back alley, this could show how De Niro is about to do something to make him more powerful, such as using a weapon like a gun. This also foreshadows what is to come in the following scenes of the film. De Niro is now the centre of attention, again showing that what he is about to do is of great significance to the rest of the film. As the sinister sound of water dripping like blood in the background and the clashing of swords reverberates continuously. This makes the audience believe what De Niro is about to do is going to echo throughout the film due to the scale of the act and the destruction it is likely to cause we assume as the audience to those in the pub. De Niro then moves back into the shadows again, this could show how De Niro may be insecure in himself and wants more power to make him feel like he has more significance. This links back to how De Niro is out of kilter with the rest of society and why he was hiding in the shadows. This confuses us as the viewer as we have just seen him in the light making us undeceive to whether or not he has negative or positive intentions and whether or not he is to be the antagonist or the protagonist. Us as the audience notice that De Niro’s pocket is still in the shadows and the darkness. This makes us as the viewer think it contains something of harm or something that he must hide. The gun is then in the center frame when De Niro is hiding it and the gun goes from light to dark showing that what he is doing or is going to do with the gun is not going to be of a good nature and is most likely to cause harm, which we assume is to be towards the girl. The editing technique uses lighting to help shows how the gun is to be used in a way in which it will cause harm to others, as it goes into the black shadows symbolizing death. There is one hit of a drum when de Niro pulls out the gun this may be signifying a gunshot and foreshadowing the future, this makes the audience believe there is death to follow in the upcoming scenes as De Niro is armed with a gun and is trying to get to the girl. This then confuses the audience as they start to think that De Niro may be the antagonist again. There is then a cut back inside the pub showing how the gun is likely to be used to hurt the girl and solidifying the audience’s idea that De Niro is trying to get to the girl. Following this there is a cut to a point of view shot of him looking into the window of the bar, this makes the audience believe that someone in the pub is De Niro’s target this becomes the audiences role to try and piece together who it will be and try and find the motive for it. The audience belives that De Niro is going to use the gun to kill someone in there, this forms a sound bridge with the single hit of the drum, this shows how De Niro may have spotted his target and could alos show how he is being called into the pub like for prayer as the othes were, again linking them all together .This may also make the audience believe he is only going to kill one person as there is only one hit of the drum signifying only one bullet is to be shot. Finally, there is a cut to the girl pulling out the gun in the bar when the gun is in centre frame and is the main focus, The audience believes that De Niro and the girl are going to shot at the others in the pub or the man which the girl dodged, or that De Niro and the girl are trying to kill one another. The girl does not appear as innocent anymore as she has a gun, this could also show how she feels unsafe or threatened and is trying to protect herself. At this point, we believe that there is to be a shootout. This leaves the audience in edge and anticipating the shootout very soon. The lady begins to speak French when De Niro walks in and asks where the toilets are, De Niro continues to speak in English to the lady behind the bar. The lady then begins to speak to De Niro in an Irish accent. This makes us and the audience believe that the lady was hiding something and assures us that the two are more than likely associated as there is a small chance that someone with an Irish accent will be working behind a bar in Paris. The Irish accent also links back to the IRA terror group and again gives the Impression that that De Niro and the people in the bar are all part of a gang or a terror organization of some description. This makes the audience view all of the people in a bad way and think of them negatively, we also as a modern audience view all of the characters as a possible threat with no limits, as this is how terrorists are today. We also believe that maybe the people in the bar are on a mission and did not know who they were working with.
A mirrored reflection is also used to portray and foreshadow what De Niro is going to turn into when he looks in the window of the pub, which is a reflection resembling as ghost showing how he may be killed in the following scenes. Mirrors are typically used to show an altered version of the person looking into it. It shows what they are to become or what other people see them as. This method of filming is often used in horror films, showing how acts of terror and horror are to follow later in the film. There is also an oboe making a constant noise which is linking the outside to the inside as the sound both occurs in the pub and outside. This could show that something outside of the pub is silently creeping up on them and in fact making all of the people in the pub targets which they are all unaware of. Again this shows how they are all connected. This is significant because the notes an oboe play are usually in the treble and soprano range. These low notes could be a reflection of all of their low morals and intentions and could be foreshadowing the future further, showing how they are to commits acts of crime which are frowned upon and looked upon in a dark way.
Jaws Write Up
In the opening scene of ‘Jaws,’ the audience is introduced to a sound motif signifying the shark’s personality, causing the audience to be alarmed as they focus on the dominant noise in this scene. Also as the noise is very ominous down to the idea that the sound is only played when the shark is nearby, this causes the audience to feel anxious or on edge whenever they hear this noise as it is telling that the shark is about to attack someone. This forms a sound bridge in the opening scene as it is also very iconographic to the Jaws film. The crescendo that is formed when there is the POV shot of the shark swimming through the reeds right in the very beginning of the film, could resemble the shark beginning its attack on its victim as it reaches its climax, it also lets the audience see what the shark is seeing and it may also make the audience feel stressed as they can see what is going to the victims but they are completely powerless and have no control over what is to happen. As the names of those involved in the making of the film appear on the screen it becomes very apparent that there is more of the colour black than the colour white in which the names are written in. This forms a powerful contrast, as the colour white is associated with peace, purity and innocence; however, the dominant colour black is mostly associated with death, mystery and evil. This foreshadows what is to come in the film and makes the audience feel a sense of anxiety of what is to come. The POV shot of what we presume to be the shark when the title of the film ‘Jaws’ appears on the screen shows the shark lurking in a very calm manner between the weeds right at the bottom of the ocean. This shows the low morals of the shark and the weed is significant to showing the thoughts the shark has when it violently kills its victim. The abyss of the ocean is largely resembling hell, by the shark coming up from here to claim its victim could show how the shark is appearing from hell to prey upon innocent people and drag them down into the depths of hell with him. This could link to the bible and the story of temptation. For example, when the young girl is tempted to go for a swim when she knows that she shouldn’t, she is punished by the shark and suffers a harsh consequence, much like the bible story.
As the orchestral instrument resembling the traditional ‘Jaws’ theme song reaches its climax there is a jump cut from the shot in the shark’s point of view to the teenagers sat on the beach, this shows how there relaxed state on the beach is coming to an end and the shark waiting for them. The teenagers are smoking, drinking and playing music, this shows their carefree nature and how they are completely unaware of the danger nearby them. The audience also forms the idea that these teenagers are to be the victims or the target as teenagers are commonly targeted in a modern cinema as victims, however here they ae acting in an antisocial manner living up to their reputation, this makes the audience . The surveying shot here builds a strong sense of tension as the shot resembles the shark circling its prey and searching through the crowd of teenagers for a weaker victim.
The fire is also significant and ironic in this scene as the teenager poke it because This shows how the teenager may have previously and persist to provoke the shark by going into the sea. The fire is significant as it is associated with life which is about to end or the girl. The fire is also symbolic of danger which the teenagers are completely disregarding by going into the ocean. The way that they are all sat around the fire could also foreshadow what is to come later in the film, such as the teenagers circling the shark in an attempt to kill it.
Following on from the surveying shot, there is a cut to an establishing shot looking over all of the teenagers. This shows how the shark is watching his prey and picking out victims. The shot is also situated higher than the beach showing how the shark is dominant and has more power over all of the teenagers, it could also in a religious context be showing how the shark as a devilish figure is looking down on those who are innocent as it believes they are in fact in the wrong and not the shark itself. The waves are also closely rolling to the right of the teenagers. This could show how the shark is creeping up, on them and how death may be near. This also makes the audience apprehensive as a modern society commonly views the sort of relaxation on the beech that the teenagers are doing with a holiday or a form of relaxation. However, this is heavily contrasted by the black of the ocean rolling closer towards the teenagers showing how darkness is creeping up on them. This leaves the audience confused and guessing what is going to happen next. The audience is also undeceive, as to what the predator is, as the opening shot in the ocean becomes apparent that it is a form of sea creature, most likely a shark. However, the shot of the shark over watching his prey on the beach may make the audience believe that the predator is in fact land based or a human. This shows the power of the shark and that it does not matter if you live on the land the shark will still find a way and be able to get to you and cause harm to you.
Throughout the opening of the film, the lighting is constantly low. The chiaroscuro effect that is used here makes the light and dark areas become even more apparent, which gives the audience an idea of the genre of the film and what is to come. The calmness of the teenagers around the fire also strengthens the idea of their youthfulness and the unawareness of the potential hazard. The fire especially helps put this point across to the audience, as all of the teenagers but one who later becomes the victim is sat around the fire yet they are not aware of the hazard of the fire as they are intoxicated. It also shows how the shark is taking advantage of this as he has already picked one victim, who is the girl sat away from the crowd and is now in search for another like the shark is physically picking out his victims. The camera movement mimicking the movement of the shark.
Following on from this scene the is a cutaway shot to the boy catching eyes with the out casted girl who we believe to be the first victim, this confuses the audience of the genre of the film as they now may perceive it to be a love story . The camera then pans across the teenager until the boy comes into the frame. Here it appears that the camera is going to carry on past him however it stops panning just before the boy is about to go off the frame. This shows how the shark has made his decision and chosen the boy as another victim. Again this relates in a religious context of the hellish nature of the shark and how the devil is asserting his power upon the teenagers and controlling the way they think, just like as the girl knows she is not supposed to be going in the ocean but does so anyway. This resembles the mentality of the shark as a satanic figure and like the shark now has full control over what the teenagers do.
There is a series of matched cuts between the boy and the girl. There is smoke from the fire blowing in front of the girl’s face, showing how she is not thinking straight and her mind is fogged up. It could also show how the shark has fooled her into going into the see as she cannot see clearly what is happening and what she is getting herself into. This may also show her mysterious murky nature which is ironic as she is to be the victim. This makes the audience question shy she is portrayed like this and what the director’s message might be to the audience.
After this series of matched cuts, the audience is taken back to the view of the shark overlooking all of the teenagers, this could show how the shark has now chosen its prey, at this point, the audience becomes tense as they are making assumptions of what is about to happen. The sound here is also significant as it is a joyous spirit from a harmonica which slowly fades as the teenagers get further away from the group. As the two teenagers then turn around and begin to run towards the ocean, we as the audience are situated in front of them like we are the shark leading them into the sea. Following this, the two teenagers reach the top of the sand dunes. Here they become dark silhouettes showing how it is too late for them to go back to the group of teenagers and they are now fully committed to the shark. It also shows how the sharks dark mysterious devilish nature has taken full control over the two teenagers. This causes tea audience to begin to
feel uncomfortable as they being to consider that something bad involving something in the water is to happen.
The wooden barricade across the beach is significant as it appears to be trying to stop people from entering the ocean. However, again we see the teenager’s careless nature and how we commonly associate teenagers with breaking rules. Just before there is a cut away to the boy, drunken, as he falls down the sand dune, this makes the audience shocked how someone of that age is that badly drunk and makes the audience feel on edge as they are willing for him not to go into the sea as he is drunk. This cut is greatly important as here we get a glimpse of the sun. This is so significant as the sunset is showing the end of the girl’s life. Here as there is a cut to the girl going into the sea the audience know that something bad is inevitable to happen. Again there is a cut back to the boy where the sun is now behind the cloud as the girl is swimming out to sea. This is showing how the further into the sea she get the closer she is coming to the end of her life and the clouds significance is of the shark’s dark nature overcoming the girl.
At the point of the attack and just prior to the attack montage editing helps show the audience that something bad is about to happen as the pace of the music increases as do the shots. As the shark nudges the girl there is a sudden climax and an abrupt noise, created by violins and brass instruments, before the girl in dragged under for the first time. Because the audience never sees what is carrying out the attack it puts them even more on edge although obvious that it is a shark. As the violent attack continues the girl begins to gasp for air as she if tossed from side to side. This shows the audience the power of the shark and makes them fearful of it. The deathly screams are also the main sound focus in this scene. The bloodcurdling screams cause the audience to feel sympathetic to the teenaged girl, although she is doing something which she should not have been doing in the first place. The dominant sound in this scene, the dominant sound is the wake of the water and also an increasing pace of violins. It becomes increasingly noticeable as the attack goes on that the camera angle is getting lower and lower until it begins to be submerged into the ocean. This is showing how the girl is being dragged underwater to her death and also how we are now at the same level as the shark, almost like we are the girl but over watching the whole attack. Possibly one of the most significant cuts in the whole of the opening scene is when the girl is being viciously killed there is a cutaway to the male teenager laying drunken on the beach . This is of such significance to the audience as such a horrifying ordeal is taking place just out to sea from the boy, yet he is lying on the beach as the sun goes down, in which a modern society would associate with relaxation. This is also very eerie as the contrasting of the blood-curdling screams with the gentle wash of the waves as the roll up the beach and begins to engulf the male teenager’s body. This could be foreshadowing and trying to hint at the audience the boy is to be the next victim of the shark. The boy could also be showing how it is not just the teenagers who are to be preyed upon by the shark but the whole of the ‘Amity’ beach community are clueless as to what is happening and what is lurking out to sea and the harsh consequences of their naivety.
Finally, the girl grabs hold of the buoy in the ocean, this shows how she is holding on for life and she feels terrified. This affects the audience as it makes them feel sympathetic towards the girl as she is young and innocent. Here however the shark does not show any mercy and continues top violently attack the girl. This gives the shark a devilish persona making the audience more fearful. Just as the girl is about to go under she begins to shout for God and begs not to die. However, the shark continues and kills the girl. This in a religious context shows how the girl has been consumed by the devil, and how what happens next is out of control of God, showing the audience how powerful the shark is.
Following on from this there is a cutaway to the boy on the beach, as the water washes up his body, this could show how he is being cleansed in a religious context from the devil, it may also be showing how he is to be the sharks next target and is getting closer to death, linking back earlier in the scene when the panning shot of the teenagers around the fire showing the shark picking out his prey.
The very final cut is a cutaway of where the girl has just been killed, however, there is no sign of the attack and the water is still. This makes the audience feel anticipation for the oncoming scenes and also shows the mysteriousness of the shark. This also makes the audience fearful and curious to what is carrying out the attacks as you never see what it is.