Shot-By-Shot: More than 100 reasons why I love Spielberg’s ‘Jaws’

There are few movies that have arrested the public’s imagination and exposed a specific fear as thoroughly as Steven Spielberg’s 1975 motion picture, “Jaws.”  Ask anyone who saw it when released in the theaters and expect an exclamation about how terrifying it was then. “We went to the lake the next weekend, and I couldn’t dip even a toe…in freshwater!”

You can’t get through Shark Week without hearing at least one person say something about “Jaws,” even if it’s a comment about the awkward “fake” movements of the movie’s mechanical shark.  And usually that complaint, originating from production troubles and Spielberg’s public complaints, surfaces from those who haven’t watched it in some time.

Because “Jaws” is still scary.

While watching the movie and trying to grab some screen captures, to think about what’s going on in those last 10 teeth-grinding minutes is hard. I have my notebook and pen and I’m watching the final climax, trying to think critically about what’s happening within the frame and suddenly the movie’s over. Wait. I didn’t catch anything. I rewind and re-watch. “Quint?” Hooper asks Brody among the ship’s wreckage. Damn. I haven’t even touched pen to paper. I skip back a few scenes and try again. Eventually I have to mute the movie in order to watch that last bit without becoming wholly absorbed again.

Aside from the movie’s thrills, Spielberg’s longer takes and smart choreography (e.g. the beach scene where natural wipes simulate one sustained take, blocking that operates much like a cut or the way the blocking in a long take exchanges the subject of a shot for another instead of relying on cuts to achieve the same effect) are a wonder to see.  The movie’s narrative economy is so deft, I have collected and share here a series of screen captures with comments to show some of that.

Economical storytelling is one of those easy phrases that often becomes misapplied or overused, but in “Jaws” it’s not simply a description of how straightforward the plot is or how effortless the story is told (sure, there’s nothing extraneous in “Jaws” but that’s beside the point) because every shot is totally packed. The stylized blocking in the picture represents more of what’s occurring internally than can be grasped in one viewing.

But first, some notes.

1) The two distinct narrative halves of “Jaws” are centered on Police Chief Martin Brody (Roy Scheider), specifically both parts of the picture build to Brody facing his fear, which is represented in POV shots, first of the sea and later of Jaws.  In the first half, Brody and Hooper (Richard Dreyfuss, was he ever better than he was here?) revolve around a relationship with Brody’s wife, Ellen, and Mayor Larry Vaughn.  In the second half, Quint (Robert Shaw), through wardrobe and blocking, extends the narrative function of both Ellen and Vaughn.

In the first half, Brody is portrayed against the Islanders and unable to live like them. In the second half, Brody is is portrayed against the ocean and is incompetent compared to the the two sailors, Quint and Hooper. The movie’s two parts correspond to each other in many, many ways and I’ll try to point that out as I go along (but there’s so much!).

Also, the power balance aways shifts according to a 2:1 ratio with Hooper vs. Brody and Vaughn at first, then Vaughn vs. Brody and Hooper, then Brody vs. Hooper and Quint, then Quint vs. Brody and Hooper, then the shark vs. Brody and Hooper. Both halves of the movie end with Brody subduing one, first Vaughn in the first half and then the shark in the second half.

2) The whole picture is bound up with dialogue, visuals and themes of enclosure, specifically security (fences), social hierarchy (authority figures – Ellen, Mayor, Quint), a sense of belonging (islanders versus everyone else), territoriality (Hooper’s theory about Jaws’ predatory tactic), &c.  The picture begins with a large gathering, moves to Brody surrounded and assaulted by island citizens, the beach, and then very slowly begins to reduce the narrative’s players until there are ultimately only two.

3) Spielberg establishes through his shots correspondences between characters and situations, a kind of visual and situational parallelism, to tie the two narrative halves (and smaller story units) together. Thus Brody is consistently framed among fences, people &c. in the first half but is seen among wide open spaces after killing Jaws (also, the last two attacks by Jaws on Quint’s boat, the Orca, are shot and edited almost exactly the same, shot-for-shot, too).

4) Things I still don’t understand: the use of primary colors (red, blue and yellow) almost exclusively and the common association of such colors with characters (e.g. Ellen is almost always accompanied or surrounded by yellow – did people at the time when this movie was made believe the color Yellow attracted sharks?) among other things mentioned below…

Chrissie and the fellow chasing her are on the wrong side of the fence, which also allows us to measure the distance they're traveling in the night.

Chrissie and the fellow chasing her are on the wrong side of the fence, which also allows us to measure the distance they’re traveling in the night.

This shot of Chrissie swimming recalls a similar shot an earlier Universal Pictures monster movie, "Creature from the Black Lagoon" (1954), which is well remembered (as equally scary for that generation) for the shot of the creature swimming underneath Kay even if the rest of the picture has been forgotten. It's a clever way for Spielberg to announce "Jaws" as a monster movie before we see any evidence of such a creature.

This shot of Chrissie swimming recalls a similar shot an earlier Universal Pictures monster movie, “Creature from the Black Lagoon” (1954), which is well remembered (and as equally scary for that generation) for the shot of the creature swimming underneath Kay even if the rest of the picture has been forgotten. It’s a clever way for Spielberg to announce “Jaws” as a monster movie before we see any evidence of such a creature.

Only water frames Chrissie here (in a moment, she clings to a buoy which marks the distance to land, a measure of space and territory).

Only water surrounds Chrissie here (in a moment, she clings to a buoy which marks the distance to land, a measure of space).

This fellow is unaware of Chrissie's plight. He does not see Jaws.

Islander Boy is unaware of Chrissie’s plight. He does not see the shark as he passes out.

After that, there is a match-cut to the sea which then is invaded by the back of Brody's head. Brody is thus introduced by framing him against the water, like Chrissie was in the previous scene.

After that, there is a match-cut to the sea which then is invaded by the back of Brody’s head. Brody is thus introduced by framing him against the water, mirroring Chrissie in the previous scene. Brody’s position in the extreme foreground is a pattern that continues through the rest of the picture, too. The first thing he does in the movie is look at the water he’s afraid of.

Ellen is introduced in the same posture and horizontal orientation as the oblivious fellow in the scene before.

Ellen is introduced in the same posture and horizontal orientation as the Islander Boy in the scene before (her eyes are even closed, too). “Do you see the kids?” Ellen asks, foreshadowing a later scene (everyone is safe on land, but not in the water), and as Brody leaves the room, Ellen makes fun of how he says “yard,” another indication of characters defining space.

Here Brody and Ellen, like Chrissie, move along a fence. In the scene immediately before this, Brody receives a phone call, which he is dependent on.

Here Brody and Ellen, like Chrissie, move along a fence. In the scene immediately before this, Brody receives a phone call, a means of communication he seems dependent on.

This shot

What a shot. The slant of the swing set’s A-frame bracket cuts the shot into two equal halves without vertically dividing the shot in the middle, and yet our attention is still directed to Brody with Ellen’s back turned and watching him, the carport’s horizontal siding, the height of Brody’s truck and of the fence’s horizontal support boards. It immediately establishes several story and character points (e.g. Brody is with police). The primary colors are here again, Ellen’s blue dress, the truck’s yellow paint and the red lights. Brody is visually separated from his family by fences (which, being white and accompanied by a family, also suggest a model American family).  Ellen’s proximity to the camera, the amount of space occupied by her blue dress against a white background and swinging larger in the frame emphasize the distance between her and her husband who is isolated within a frame within a frame.

Brody leaves

Brody leaving his American Dream family’s home. He isn’t an islander (as pointed out by his wife, he is a New Yorker) and cannot exist peaceably in an Islander Home at this time.

Unlike Chrissie, Brody is on the safe side of the fence now though the camera

Unlike Chrissie, Brody is on the safe side of the fence now though the camera has switched sides. Earlier, Chrissie ran from left-to-right before entering the water. Thus shooting this scene from right-to-life is a subtle visual choice to suggest where Brody is headed (to see what parts of Chrissie remain). Also, Brody has gone from a green yard (land) to sand. The ocean does not figure into this shot because Brody, who is afraid of water, has nothing to be afraid of yet. Also, when asked if he lives here, Islander Boy says, “Yeah, I’m an islander,” reinforcing his Islander identity against Brody’s.

That changes

The police officer’s gaze on the right directs our attention to Brody, who now has something to be afraid because he 1) sees Chrissie’s remains, 2) is framed by the ocean he fears again and 3) is on the wrong side of the fence like Chrissie was. Also note how Brody, in yellow, is singled out from the Islander and from the police officer (both wearing blue).

Brody's

In this shot, Brody’s completely alone against the ocean background as he looks at what remains of Chrissie after the shark attack, and the fences still figure prominently in this shot, suggesting how Brody doesn’t yet belong to the island.

Brody

Back in town, Brody is once again outside of the fences. In the scene before, the police office’s secretary tells Brody that some kids are “karate-ing the fences,” destroying known boundaries. Like the first scene with Chrissie and Islander Boy, youth are unaware of the importance of these boundaries.

This is

This is one of my favorite scenes in the movie. After being told by the elderly gentleman in the bottom right corner to “look what the kids did to my fence” (more destruction of boundaries), there’s mention made of glasses (sight). And thanks to the banner, we are informed of the July 4th celebration which becomes a major plot point in the picture. But my favorite part of this scene is that Brody doesn’t just cross the street from the far right to the left as you might expect and as everyone else in the shot is doing, but he walks along the sidewalk and then crosses the street only once inside the white paint pedestrian crossing. It’s such a subtle touch that reveals more about Brody’s character and his attachment to boundaries. Brody is on a mission to establish more boundaries, in fact, by setting up No Swimming signs, which, because they’ve never been put up before, must be built and painted with supplies from the shop.

When approached

Again, primary colors of blue, yellow and red and Brody both set apart from these city authority figures by color as well as through blocking. Brody is within a fence within a fence and then fenced by the authority figures (as well as the car grill) again as they explain the importance of burying the shark attack. Also, Mayor Vaughn’s suit is decorated with anchors, which suggests a surface relationship with water and an stubborn inclination to stay put (Vaughn is, in fact, a realtor, or someone dealing in land, besides being mayor as evidenced in the shot above where a “Vaughn’s Realty” sign hangs). The top right hand corner of the frame might be empty except that the three faces there direct our attention back to the central action in the scene. Mayor Vaughn also points out here that a barracuda (an unknown) won’t scare people, but a shark (known fear) would.

funny

During the course of one of the movie’s most famous scenes, Brody is approached by an older man asking Brody to establish more boundaries (a “red zone”), and in what is a common Spielberg over-the-shoulder shot emphasizing enclosure, Brody is peeping to see whether there’s a shark in the water. This shot follows those where people walking in front of Brody function as natural wipes between cuts.

Brody

Though Ellen tries to help Brody relax, it’s no use (again, he’s fenced by the striped beach shacks). We’re reminded again that he’s not an Islander at the beginning of the scene through dialogue among extras: “When do I get to be an islander?” The answer? “Never. You’re not born here. You’re not an islander.”  Following the contra zoom and Alex Kintner’s death, Brody runs to the water with the rest of the crowd but does not enter the water. Instead he walks along the water’s edge as if in another safe pedestrian crossing.

Brody

As the meeting in Amity Town Hall begins, Brody (who shares the concerns of the citizens) is physically aligned with those gathered. At first, Brody is seen in opposition to the town’s governing body (whose backs are turned to the camera). But Mayor Vaughn asks Brody to move behind the council’s bench, to cross the line drawn in the sand between the people and the governing body that “knows” what’s best for the town.

When we're

Following the nails on the chalkboard, our first glimpse of Quint is of him munching on his crackers (calm) next to a sketch of a man being eaten by a giant shark, foreshadowing his fate.

When Quint

When Quint stands up to leave the council’s room, he and the empty hallway to the exit share equal space within the frame, suggesting Quint is the only way out.

Brody

After Quint leaves the council’s room, this shot of Brody places him between bars again (the window blinds on the right and their shadows on the left). At this point, Quint is the only one who has unequivocally faced the danger posed by the shark when Brody could have done so but stood with the wrong side, with a council eager to avoid public panic.

Back at home

Back at home, Brody is framed against the ocean on all sides as he puts down a book full of shark attack photos, pointing to his inability to rest/relax as long as he’s afraid of the water around him.

This shot echoes

24:11 – This shot echoes the first shot of Brody. He’s in the foreground again, looking at his children who are the subject of the shot. He’s afraid of water, and he’s afraid of what might happen to his children, which sets up the estuary scene later in the movie.

Ellen

With the ocean filling the background, Ellen and Brody are separated by the white porch post as she tells him not to worry. After she looks inside the book with its photo of a shark chomping on a boat, she crosses from the left side to join Brody on the right, sharing his fear and screaming at their children to get out of the boat.

24:56 -

24:56 – Charlie and Denherder, in a scene at night and resembling Chrissie’s departure, are on the wrong side of the net like she was.  These two also measure their safety by distance: “Don’t worry, Chief (Brody) lives on the other side of the island.”

Jaws

The shark rips the platform from the dock.  The dock (a point of safety for Charlie and Denherder) becomes, in effect, the predator, thus not only confirming the illustration Ellen saw in the book but adding to the terror.

27:54 -

27:54 – As the dock returns to the beach much like Alex Kintner’s yellow rubber raft, we hear the question, “Can we go home now?” to foreshadow, at the movie’s end, the two men left among wreckage and wanting to go home.

During Hooper's

On a side note, the police officer in the scene before this one complains about being alone, but he does so by qualifying their identity against his own: “Those aren’t my people. Did you see the license plates?” The scene, above, of Hooper examining Chrissie’s “partial remains” in the tub begins with Brody standing in a defensive posture, still ignoring the obvious danger…

The scene

…But the scene concludes with Hooper’s confirmation that there is a shark problem and Brody’s guilt builds, signified visually by framing him against darkly painted window panes.

33:37 -

33:37 – As the town people gather around a slain shark, Brody is pictured here with his head in the clouds, exultant over a false triumph.

37:52 -

37:52 – This is a superb shot that has Brody, Vaughn and Hooper (the three men leading the movie’s first half) faced with Alex Kintner’s grieving mother…

37:54 -

…and the shot ends (37:54) with the grieving mother leaving the frame and being replaced by the shark. It’s not over yet. I love it.

38:11 -

38:11 – The scene, which began with Brody’s head in the clouds, ends with the Shark and Blood hanging over him as the sun sets. This is just one of the many fantastic ways Spielberg visually conveys a whole story in one scene.

38:27 -

38:27 – Brody at his table, his head hung while Ellen is framed inside the kitchen which is painted yellow as well as the hallway (though a close look at the shot reveals the hallway is either poorly lit or, more likely, the yellow paint was slapped on the walls and trim). That said, I’ve no firm grasp as to why Ellen is so frequently associated with the color yellow.

Hooper

I love this shot with the yellow glowing lights under the water and Hooper’s blue suit in contrast (we’ll see a mirror image of this shot later when Hooper descends in the cage). In the scenes before, Hooper explains his theory of the shark’s “territoriality,” a rogue shark swims around until the food supply diminishes, which is not much different from the territoriality of the town’s mayor who wants visitors to swim around and spend money in Amity until the town’s coffers are full.

Hooper

This scene is worth watching and re-watching for the way that the subject of the shot changes over more than two minutes, an effect achieved through blocking. But again, the conflict here is between three men (Hooper, Vaughn and Brody), which establishes the conflict of the movie’s second half between Hooper, Quint and Brody.

Vaughn

In keeping with the theme of enclosure, Vaughn wants to keep people at Amity Island’s beach instead of scaring them away to other beaches. Also, the eye tracking in this shot is terrific. The cartoon figure’s eyes staring at Hooper, who along with Brody and the cartoon Sun, is looking at Vaughn.

57:01 -

57:01 – At Vaughn’s behest, an older couple takes their children and a yellow rubber raft into the water, recalling Alex Kintner’s raft. Spielberg is preparing us for what is about to happen, but not without some of the same misdirection used in the Kintner-shark attack.

Brody

Brody asks his son, Michael, to take his boat into the pond or estuary, a partly enclosed body of water, because enclosure is supposed to signify safety. Brody’s uniform shares the same color tone as the sand and the rocks surrounding Michael.

the woman

More misdirection: we have the first of several shots where the subject breaks the fourth wall looking at (what this lady believes is) the shark.

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Michael, staring at the real threat, also breaks the fourth wall. It’s worth noting that both Kintner and the unfortunate fellow being chomped down on in this scene do not see the shark before he arrives. Nobody except Brody sees the shark before he attacks (and Brody is always the first to see him, suggesting a closer relationship between the shark and Brody’s fear).

1:03:57 -

1:03:57 – In this shot, the railing keeps the mother from being able to help her child. Also, here’s another Yellow thing I don’t quite get since the yellow truck in the background rides parallel to Ellen for the length of the shot.

1:04:39 -

1:04:39 – Brody, as he stares at the ocean, is on the left side of the frame now though still in the foreground in front of 1) children and 2) the sky again.

1:04:41 -

1:04:41 – This shot is the emotional turning point in the movie. We’ve had two shots previously where Brody stares at the ocean, but this is the first time we see it from his point-of-view…

...

…and at first it’s framed in the span between bridge supports, within man-made boundaries…

...

…but finally the shot rests on the ocean alone, just the water which Brody fears and that now corresponds with a fear of the shark.

1:04:51 -

1:04:51 – Ellen (against red wall) and Brody still separated while waiting for word of Michael’s health. With Ellen and Brody, this shot mirrors the one before of Brody’s POV of the ocean between bridge supports – as seen in other shots, fear of water is associated with fear for child’s safety.

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1:05:00 – The shot continues here as they push Michael away from a wall that resembles…

...

…the shark’s mouth (captured at 33:11 mark).

1:05:11 -

1:05:11 – the tracking shot concludes with Ellen smiling, relieved (against a yellow background again) that her son is okay.

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In the next shot, it is now Mayor Vaughn on the other side of the room, another child who must be delivered.

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And Brody replaces Ellen against the yellow wall.

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Brody pulls the hospital’s cubicle curtains and tries to persuade Vaughn to hire Quint (in the narrative, this is where Vaughn is swapped for Quint in the movie’s leading trio).

Still

Still, the scene (and movie’s first half) ends with Vaughn being defeated by the shark, much like Quint will be later.

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In Quint’s shack, the movie’s second half begins. One thing to note is that Brody is out of place in the second half and never firmly establishes a connection with Quint, who is too big to share the same shot with Brody but dwarfs him or is shown in a superior position when he does. With Brody in the foreground of this shot, he’s simply reacting (his common flaw) to the real subject of the shot: Quint.  Also, Quint doesn’t respond to Brody, who can’t quaff the moonshine, but he replies to Hooper who downs the liquor.

1:07:44 -

1:07:44 – Such an amusing shot. Though Quint’s only preserving the jawbones, the pairing of the shelves’ food and seasonings and the pot on the stove informs us that Quint, with his apron, is a man who eats sharks.

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1:09:02 – As Quint and Hooper become acquainted, Quint (in the foreground) fills up the shot’s frame. Also, note Hooper’s yellow halo.

1:09:08 -

1:09:08 – And so it goes that Quint and Hooper bond, signified by their holding of hands. It’s a bond that Brody is removed from, and remains that way for almost the entire movie. Besides the fact that Quint and Hooper know their way on the water and both drink the harsh stuff, they also use similar language. Earlier, Hooper calls the town doctor’s examination of Chrissie’s remains a “half-assed autopsy.”  Quint in a few minutes after this shot uses a similar phrase to describe Hooper as a “half-assed astronaut.”

1:09:17 -

1:09:17 – I love this shot with its descending eyelines (Quint –> Brody –> Hooper). Brody reminds them this is his expedition as he stands in front of the ship’s wheel (and some curious yellow stained glass?).

1:11:53 -

1:11:53 – This frame is the last in a long, spectacular tracking shot that shows Brody and Ellen in her blue kerchief walking and ends with both of them in close-up. It’s another instance where Brody and Ellen are together, in what could be a tender moment were it not for another interruption (by Quint, this time).

1:12:42 -

1:12:42 – A little clever, foreshadowing shot of Quint’s boat, the Orca, sailing through Jaws.

1:13:33 -

1:13:33 – As will become the norm in their relationship, Brody is relegated to the grunt work on the ship while Quint and Hooper relax. Also, Brody’s use of a lifejacket further distinguishes him from the other two veteran sailors.

1:13:57 -

1:13:57 – Hooper and Quint occupy the same frame comfortably aboard the Orca…

1:10:47 -

…like they did before leaving (captured at 1:10:47). In both shots, a vertical line (rope/rod) separates them and Quint takes up more space than Hooper does, but once at sea (1:13:57), Quint no longer has his back to the camera and his body position mirrors Hooper’s.

1:14:13 -

1:14:13 – Quint throws down…

1:13:20 -

…and Hooper answers (1:13:20), further emphasizing their kinship.

1:14:36 -

1:14:36 – Brody (with a yellow flag) is set against Hooper and Quint.

1:15:03 -

1:15:03 – Though Brody shares space with Quint in this shot, both of their faces are turned away from each other. When Quint leans toward Brody, it’s only to tell Brody to listen to Quint from now on. In the shots that follow, Quint is always turned away from the camera when Brody’s in the frame until Brody successfully ties the knot. Even then, Quint tells Brody to “get behind me” after the shark has taken the bait.

1:18:41 -

1:18:41 – “The wire is showing,” Brody says in a close-up where his glasses figure prominently. Brody’s the man who sees.

1:19:32 -

1:19:32 – “Don’t you tell me my business again,” Quint tells Hooper. Also, note how (funnily) Quint dominates the frame (and Brody!)

1:21:11 -

1:21:11 – “Hooper drives the boat, Chief,” says Quint aka God.

1:21:48 -

1:21:48 – Brody’s the first one to see the shark from the boat (while he complains about being given orders).  Most often, things occur behind Brody as he’s in the foreground, suggesting how naive he is. As the shark circles the boat, Hooper and Quint spring to action while Brody stands still. Brody is so far from being a man of action that he can’t even react: “You’re going to need a bigger boat, right? How do we handle this? How do we handle this?”

1:23:57 -

1:23:57 – Brody refuses to go beyond the yellow barrels at Hooper’s request or up into the pulpit, so he retreats…

1:24:01 -

…and is met by Quint’s harpoon (1:24:01), then retreats again.

1:26:02 -

1:26:02 – The first yellow barrel is supposed to bring the shark up again, but he (the sea) swallows it. This is also the first shot of a longer unit, which we’ll call the First Yellow Barrel unit.

1:26:27 -

1:26:27 – Quint in the pulpit.

1:27:14 -

1:27:14 – The following comparison of battle scars is prompted by Brody touching the nick on his forehead.

1:27:55 -

1:27:55 – Quint and Hooper showing off their scars to Brody.

1:28:40 -

1:28:40 – Another shot emphasizing Quint and Hooper’s bond (against Brody) as they prepare to “drink to our legs.”

1:28:52 -

1:28:52 – A rather pitiful shot of Brody, wanting to participate, looking at his appendectomy scar then saying nothing.

1:29:43 -

1:29:43 – It wasn’t a tattoo of “mother” that Quint had removed…

1:31:00 -

1:31:00 – Only Hooper shares the same frame as Quint as the latter delivers his (vulnerable) monologue to an offscreen (!) Brody.  Also, Quint mentions how “we formed ourselves into tight groups like battle squares,” another instance of men setting boundaries that are useless against the sharks.

1:32:00 -

1:32:00 – Not only is Brody separated from Quint and requires a cut to show him, but Brody’s so irrelevant that his black clothes (recalling the Kintner mother and the death of her son to match the death of Quint’s fellow sailors) make him almost disappear into the dark around him.

1:34:25 -

1:34:25 – Brody doesn’t join Quint and Hooper at the table until they begin singing “Show me the way to go home” (Brody’s wish). Note their body positions in the shot as well. Also, Brody is the last one to realize something’s wrong before the shark eats the light.

1:36:57 -

1:36:57 – Quint and Hooper are inside the boat, repairing it. They are, in this scene, almost indistinguishable from each other following their bonding moment the night before.

1:37:36 -

1:37:36 – Again, Brody in the foreground, blending into the environment, while watching the nearly indistinguishable Quint and Hooper.

1:38:16 -

1:38:16 – Quint is the first of the three that the shark draws blood from. He is cut from the rope after not heeding his own advice to Hooper…

1:38:43 -

…which leads to this shot (1:38:43) when Brody tries to radio for help. This curious shot retains focus on Quint’s sliced palm as he grabs the bat and moves forward to destroy the radio, as if to remind the audience of Quint’s injury and his determination to get even with the shark. This is now a battle between Quint and the shark, and the blood drawn concludes the First Yellow Barrel unit.

1:39:23 -

1:39:23 – Both Quint and the shark move parallel to each other in this tracking shot.

1:39:46 -

1:39:46 – This is one of my favorite shots with the reflection (Spielberg has knack for these) of the yellow barrel in the boat’s window with Brody looking on.

1:39:53 -

1:39:53 – This shot mirrors the one at 1:26:02, signaling a second attempt to fight the shark. This second unit matches the first one almost shot-for-shot.

1:43:04 -

1:43:04 – Brody’s still inexperienced with ropes, wrapping it around Hooper’s legs (tying people in).

1:43:59 -

1:43:59 – The shark can’t be tied down as he eats the lines.

1:44:27 -

1:44:27 – Brody’s hit by a flying yellow barrel, which breaks and knocks his glasses from his head, which is a big step for him. He started on the boat with his glasses and a lifejacket and both of those things were removed from him. Though he does not score any scars in the ensuing battle, he’s developing as a man of action all the same.

1:45:53 -

1:45:53 – Love this shot, the machete blade belonging to Quint with his (Ellen’s) blue kerchief around his head.

1:46:07 -

1:46:07 – This shot suggests something akin to “Moby Dick.” We half expect the shark to come up beneath the Orca like the white whale under the Pequod.

"Quint, don't put that much pressure on it," Hooper says.

“Quint, don’t put that much pressure on it,” Hooper says. Quint begins singing “Farewell & Adieu,” trying to figuratively outrun the shark that ate the 800 men from the U.S.S. Indianapolis. Note again how Quint and Hooper blend into each other while Brody is on the far right, on the other side of the post (the frame’s center).

1:49:50 -

1:49:50 – Composer John Williams echoes Quint’s favorite tune in the soundtrack. The shark is now the one singing “Farewell & Adieu.”

1:50:58 -

1:50:58 – Tying the shark down won’t work, so now the men turn to enclosing themselves. Here we have Brody…

...then Hooper (1:50:59)...

…then Hooper (1:50:59)…

...then Quint (1:51:00)...

…then Quint (1:51:00)…

...and also the boat (1:51:00).

…and also the boat (1:51:00).

1:51:02 -

1:51:02 – And all of them together. Usually a camera’s low angle would make the subject seem more powerful. Yet this low angle might as well be the shark’s POV, and thus the feeling conveyed by the angle is the exact opposite: Dinner is preparing itself.

1:52:11-

1:52:11 – Brody removes Hooper’s glasses.

1:52:46 -

1:52:46 – This shot of Brody behind the cage bars as they lower Hooper reminds us who it is Brody who must ultimately face the shark. Brody’s still avoiding taking action, and letting Hooper and Quint fight first. Originally, Hooper, like Quint, was supposed to die but problems underwater and with a stunt double forced Hooper to be rewritten into the ending.

1:57:16 -

1:57:16 – After the shark has jumped aboard the Orca, Quint grabs Brody’s hand to keep from falling (mirroring the shot at 1:09:08). But Brody and Quint have not established any kind of bond like Hooper and Quint…

...

…thus resulting in Quint’s fall (1:57:17).

1:57:32 -

1:57:32 – The movie’s only extreme close-up, reserved for the movie’s most terrifying moment.

1:57:34 -

1:57:34 – Echoing the shot of the woman in the water and his son, Brody here breaks the fourth wall once faced with the shark. Also, note the tank in the left corner, subtly preparing us for its significant use in the following scenes.

1:57:50 -

1:57:50 – This shot begins with Brody in the foreground and though the movement within the frame is of the shark carrying Quint down below, the position of Brody against the shark points to the real showdown so that…

...

…Brody and and the shark recede from the frame at the same time (1:57:52). They’re both leaving to prepare for what’s been put off too long.

1:58:01 - at first

1:58:01 – but what does Brody do? He retreats to a smaller space inside the boat’s cabin, seeking safety through enclosing himself though that obviously didn’t work for Hooper earlier.

1:58:09 -

1:58:09 – And in fact, the shark doesn’t care. He breaks into the space…

...and fills it (1:58:10).

…and fills it (1:58:10).

1:58:24 -

1:58:24 – Brody chunks the Aqua Lung aluminum cylinder into the shark’s mouth (You gotta love the nice touch of Quint-flesh hanging from those ivories), having learned a new trick from his earlier mistake.

1:58:35 -

1:58:35 – We see Brody escaping the cabin through a window from the same angle at which Hooper asked him to go up into the pulpit (at 1:23:57). But instead of the pulpit, Brody ascends…

...

…to where Quint previously sat as God.  Brody is now, like Hooper and Quint, rising to action.

2:00:24 -

2:00:24 – Brody’s still out of focus though and there’s still that pesky rope he keeps fooling with across his head.

2:00:29 -

2:00:29 – Boom. Lots of yellow (is that from the barrels? because it looks cool? or something else?)

2:00:34 -

2:00:34 – After slaying his foe, Brody’s now unrestricted by ropes or anything else. Just bathin’ in the blood of his enemy.

2:01:42 -

2:01:42 – Just as he was startled by Ellen earlier, Brody’s startled now by Hooper’s appearance. It’s the first time Brody has really laughed, and note Brody and Hooper’s hands. Where Hooper and Quint had bonded, Brody is now establishing his own bond with Hooper.

2:02:11 -

2:02:11 – Returning home between the same barrels that marked the shark before, Brody exhibits ease in the water, eagerly swimming through it where he avoided it earlier. He didn’t know anything about sailing before, but here he points out that the tide is in their favor.

2:02:53 -

2:02:53 – Last shot of the movie ends once they step onto the land, no fences, nothing. It’s a new world.

Thanks for reading.

~Z

zacharykparker@gmail.com

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