When Steven Spielberg’s “Jaws” hit theaters in 1975, it did things no other film has done to date. In addition to scaring scores of cinema goers out of the water at the peak of summer beach season, it became the first film in U.S. movie history to surpass $100 million at the box office. By this definition, the first Hollywood blockbuster, “Jaws” would go on to hold the title for the most commercially successful film ever for two years (before being supplanted by “Star Wars”). But Spielberg’s thriller wasn’t just financial gold; the film was also a critical success, nabbing positive reviews, three Academy Awards, and a Best Picture nomination. Forty years later, “Jaws” is still a go-to classic for film buffs, students, and enthusiasts.
In his new 33-minute study, circumspect and studious filmmaker, Antonios Papantoniou, breaks down nine scenes from “Jaws” in this latest “Shot by Shot” video. Papantoniou claims that ““Jaws” remains one of the ultimate filmic textbooks,” and he offers the half hour video as an investigation of Spielberg’s use of different camera angles and movements, as well as shot types and durations. (Papantoniou has already proven a keen, analytical eye with other “Shot by Shot” videos, including this 10-minute one on Martin Scorsese’s “Cape Fear.”) If you don’t have time for the full video now, but are curious about key scenes, Papantoniou provides a handy breakdown of the nine case studies (which are all from the first half of the film):
Brody wakes up and leaves 2:10; Brody and Cassidy discover Chrissie’s remnants 5:25; Brody at the office 7:55; Brody goes downtown 9:20; Shark attacks 11:20; The Town Meeting 16:35; Brody Hooper and Vaughn 22:40; Brody Hooper and Quint 27:30’ Brody and Ellen say goodbye 31:05.
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Right off the bat, the editor raises some interesting points with his video, highlighting Spielberg’s use of actors’ faces popping into frame from off camera, as well as actors dominating the foreground (in addition to a myriad of other techniques he picks up on). Papantoniou’s video is a great study in shot and scene anatomy; he breaks each of the nine down by duration and total number of cuts, then runs real time analysis of the shots alongside the film, calling attention to the camera movements, type of shot, and angle, vis-a-vis the actors’ movements.
Jumping to the iconic shark attack scene, Papantoniou asserts, “Spielberg excels in every way by creating a nerve wracking cinematic experience through image and sound.” He continues, pointing out that “we experience the beach through Brody’s POV almost in a voyeuristic, Hitchcockian-way,” and then backs up his argument with his illuminating breakdowns.
Watch the entire study below. It’s well worth half an hour. And major thanks to Antonios Papantoniou for his dedicated analysis. [via No Film School]