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Steven Spielberg, Jaws And 'God Light'

Image for Steven Spielberg, Jaws And 'God Light'

It is perhaps the signature of Spielberg’s visual style. Images flooded with what he calls “God light”, shafts coming out of the sky (or usually bubbling clouds) or from a spaceship or through a window or doorframe. Yet Jaws isn’t really interested in the powerful possibilities of light, most scenes going for a naturalistic, never calling attention to itself realism. Except one.

When Brody and Hooper take the latter’s boat out to search for Ben Gardiner’s boat, Spielberg displays his first penchant for using light to reveal mystery, danger and wonder, accompanied by John Williams at his airiest (musically it is about get heavy very soon). Like the rest of Jaws’ lighting scheme, it has a realistic light source — Hooper’s super-duper lamp — but set against the high-key look of the rest of the film, it has an otherworldly, sci-fi feel to it.

This light peering through the window of BG’s boat is maybe the most Spielberg-y thing in the whole of Jaws

When we cut to a wide, top shot of Hooper’s gadget-filled boat, the lights creating pools of yellow around the boat andturning the black sea a milkier blue. A retro reading might recast as Spielberg’s first space ship — a technological wonder filling a dangerous world with light and magic. Surely it should take off leaving a rainbow trail behind it?