Register  |   Log In  |  
Sign up to our weekly newsletter    
Search   
Empire Magazine and iPad
Follow Me on Pinterest YouTube Tumblr
Empire
Trending On Empire
The 301 Greatest Movies Of All Time!
Empire's Guardians Of The Galaxy Cover
Does Star Wars Have A Brain Trust?
Nick Frost:
My Movie Life

The World's End star's pick of the flicks
Subscribe: 6 Issues For £15!
Subscribe today and save 37% off the cover price!
Feature
We're Gonna Need A Wider Screen
How Jaws' widescreen wizardry captures the head, the tail etc etc

submit to reddit

Spielberg shot his first five films in the 2:35: 1 anamorphic aspect ratio (he felt the smaller scale tale of E.T. deserved the more intimate 1:85:1. ratio). Revisiting Jaws confirms the director’s position as a master of the widescreen format, creating not only dynamic, artful compositions that exploit the ratio to the fullest but also using the full frame to convey key plot points and meanings. Keep 'em peeled for five of the best…

WORDS IAN FREER
1
  1 of 1  

1. While much of the terror about Chrissie’s attack comes from editing, Spielberg also uses composition to heighten the horror. Chrissie is violently tugged back and forth but because the camera stays static, making no attempt to pan with her, it is like she’s being battered against the edges of the frame. The stillness of the shot — the bouy is a constant non-moving landmark— compared to the tumult of the water and body movement compounds the ferocity no-end. Susan Backlinie’s Fay Wray-quality screaming also helps.

2. Brody is nervous about the safety of the beach. As his attention is grabbed by a young girl who starts screaming as she is pulled under water, his view is blocked by an Amity town councilor who sits right in his line of vision and starts droning on about the transportation problems outside his house. Spielberg uses the whole width of the frame to dramatize the moment, He also employs a split diopter — a half convex piece of glass that is attached to the lens to change the focal length — to keep both the foreground (the dullard councillor) and the background (the swimming girl) in focus. Having the whole scene sharp really grounds the scene in Brody’s perspective, perfectly conveying his divided attentions.

3. It’s a superb, quickly etched portrait of family life. Dad on the left of frame. Son on the right. Mum in the middle, quietly, proudly watching a private moment between the men of her house. It says tons about the relationships — Ellen watching Brody with his head in his hands but unable to do anything about it, Brody having a moment’s respite from thinking about the shark by toying with his son — without using a single line of dialogue. And when the scene does resort to words — “Give us a kiss?” “Why?” “Because I need it.” — it is magical.

4. This is a throwaway cutaway that is given a little extra zing in 2:35: 1. If this were shot 1:85, we would see Brody’s and Hooper’s feet scurrying along the side of the Orca. But the widescreen framing clearly ramps up the excitement, clearly delineating the safety of the boat vs. the danger in the sea. And note that Brody slips (Hooper doesn’t), even in the tiniest moments Spielberg ramming home the fact that the chief of police is a landlubber.

5. It’s a lovely shot this. The shark has just gone under with one barrel. Hooper is frustrated. Quint stands smugly on the pulpit of the Orca almost in silhouette at twilight, the railings spanning out to the edge of the frames. Critics have noted he looks like a Spider in a web. With Quint set back in the centre of frame, the railings almost feel like they are comin at ya. It’s 3D without the glasses or darkness.

1
 
1 of 1
 

Have Your Say
Register or login now to let us know what you think.

Your Comments

1 superb
this is where empire shines. read this whole feature and it's been amazing (except the poster mash up thing - bit pointless but whatever). Totally agree with Paddy about the summer blockbuster comment. i love Spielberg's more serious 'grown up' pictures but wouldn't it be great to have him really just put everyone in their place by turning up with a movie this good? but then Jaws was probably a one in a million wasn't it? Well, except for Raiders. Oh and Close Encounters. Yeah... and then there was ET. Um, then I suppose you better include Temple of Doom and Last Crusade really. Shit, almost forgot Jurassic Park! Bugger, this man is just too good! More

Posted by leroythemasochist on Thursday September 13, 2012, 22:28

2 thanks empire....
for making me realise again, that this is the best movie ever hope Speilberg does some more rip roaring summer blockbusters More

Posted by Paddy Kieran on Tuesday September 11, 2012, 20:37

SPECIAL FEATURE
The 301 Greatest Movies Of All Time EMPIRE READERS' POLL: THE 301 GREATEST MOVIES OF ALL TIME
You turned out in your hundreds and thousands, and here are the results... Browse the full list


CURRENT HIGHLIGHTS
How To Create Your Dragon: The Inspirations Behind The Creatures
DreamWorks' animator reveals the ingredients for the movie's dragons

Video: Mark Ruffalo On Begin Again, Science Bros And Underpants Acting
Plus Empire meets director John Carney and co-star James Corden

Movie Poster Mashups: The Wes Anderson Edition
You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll be appalled at the punning...

Film Studies 101: Ten Movie Formats That Shook The World
The pre-digital innovations that formed modern cinema

Exodus: Gods And Kings: Ridley Scott's Trailer Breakdown
The director talks us through his enormous Biblical epic

Jay Baruchel Talks How To Train Your Dragon 2
From The Human Centipede to the origin of 'Useless reptile'

Watch: Industrial Light & Magic's Greatest Hits
From Star Wars to Transformers, we run through some of the best individual moments from the special effects masters

Subscribe to Empire magazine
Get The 301 Greatest Movies Of All Time Subscribers' Cover

Subscribe today and get the cover and 3 issues for only £10!

Subscribe today

Subscribe to Empire iPad edition
Get The Empire iPad Edition Today

Subscribe and save maney on annual digital subscription

Subscribe today
Buy single issues

Get 12 issues of Empire for just £18!
Special 25th anniversary offer for one month only! Subscribe today!
Empire's Film Studies 101 Series
Everything you ever wanted to know about filmmaking but were afraid to ask...
The Empire iPad Edition
With exclusive extras, interactive features, trailers and much more! Download now
Home  |  News  |  Blogs  |  Reviews  |  Future Films  |  Features  |  Interviews  |  Images  |  Competitions  |  Forum  |  iPad  |  Podcast  |  Magazine Contact Us  |  Empire FAQ  |  Subscribe To Empire  |  Register
© Bauer Consumer Media Ltd  |  Legal Info  |  Privacy Policy  |  Bauer Entertainment Network
Bauer Consumer Media Ltd (company number 01176085 and registered address 1 Lincoln Court, Lincoln Road, Peterborough, England PE1 2RF)