70s10. Safe and Unsafe Space in Jaws

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70s10. Safe and Unsafe Space in Jaws

  1. 1. US Cinema of the 1970s: Safe and Unsafe Space in Jaws Prof. Julia Leyda September 10, 2013
  2. 2. quiz Why do you think Martin Brody is the one who finally kills the shark? Why not the more expert Hooper or Quint? What does the choice of Brody as hero say about the movie?
  3. 3. safe and unsafe cinematic space Richard Maltby’s concept of safe space:  movies usually create a safe, stable space for viewers to experience, understand, and enjoy unsafe space:  destabilizes viewer’s comfort and sense of familiarity, betrays expectations  restricts character’s and audience’s viewpoint  uses ―impact‖ editing to shock and surprise us  ex.: Psycho shower scene (1960)
  4. 4. unsafe space and the frame  makes the audience into a victim by limiting our knowledge and viewpoint  shot/reverse shot sequences show the limits of the character’s view (opposite of typical, ―safe‖ use of continuity)  threatens an attack from something off-screen that could penetrate the frame  counters expectations by empowering a bad character (or monster or man-eating shark)
  5. 5. unsafe space and the audience  audience is ―like a giant organ that you and I are playing‖ –Hitchcock  voyeurism of watching people frightened, attacked, even killed  viewing pleasure: sadism of movie and masochism of audience  becomes more common as audiences are seen as younger and more male (1960s and 70s)  often attractive female victims, but also in slasher movies often female survivor-heroines ―the Final Girl‖ –Carol Clover
  6. 6. unsafe space in Jaws J. Hoberman’s essay ―Nashville contra Jaws‖  ―a more ruthless, experiential notion of movie as roller coaster‖ (211)  shark is invisible for the first 80 minutes (actually 60?)  then each appearance it gets bigger  ―repeatedly violate[s] human space, erupting into the frame from below—drawing on every primal conception of the sea as universal womb or collective unconscious, albeit here a repository of blood, monsters, and death‖ (211)  Spielberg, quoted in Hoberman: ―almost like I’m directing the audience with an electric cattle prod‖ (211)
  7. 7. waterline shot
  8. 8. waterline shot
  9. 9. waterline shot, submerging
  10. 10. shark POV shot
  11. 11. shark POV shot
  12. 12. first shot of shark
  13. 13. quasi-POV shot from shark
  14. 14. vulnerable position— foreshadowing?
  15. 15. unsafe space: shark cage sequence
  16. 16. waterline, sinking boat
  17. 17. shark inside boat
  18. 18. the shark  threatens the town of Amity, a ―safe‖ place where the ex-New York cop (Roy Scheider of TFC) moved his young family to escape from urban crime and decay  underwater shots put audience in the shark’s point of view, identify with shark’s perspective  recalls the whale in Melville’s Moby Dick  shark’s attack a metaphor for consumerism, media ―feeding frenzy‖ including the tie-ins (213)  nature’s revenge, like Godzilla  monstrous phallus and vagina dentata: representing anxieties about sexuality and gender
  19. 19. gender and sexuality in Jaws  first victim is a sexually active young woman, ―one of the most blatantly eroticised murders in the history of cinema‖ (212) with audience in POV of killer  Hooper’s reference to Jack the Ripper over her remains, excited by her mutilated body  Quint’s sailor jokes and songs about prostitutes  all-male hunting party, competitive masculinity  ocean as symbol of eternity, life, fertility, birth; now threatening and deadly
  20. 20. politics and Jaws  shark as summer spectacle to replace ―the decline and fall of Richard Nixon‖ of the past 2 years (214)  mayor as dishonest, greedy politician who covers up the first shark attack—distrust of government  business leaders want to make money from beach vacationers, ignore danger  older, WWII generation Quint dies, representing guilt: horrors of nuclear attacks on Japan (217)  Hooper and Brody, without Quint, represent Carter coalition: middle class and younger generation (218)  all-male team solves the problems of the town by working together
  21. 21. movie industry and Jaws  paradigmatic ―New Hollywood‖ event movie, or ―high concept‖ movie with tie-ins, synergy  saturation release, formerly only bad movies  simple idea, TV ads, bestselling novel, striking graphic image  summer action blockbusters: return to spectacle or ―cinema of attractions‖ as in early Hollywood  precursor to high concept blockbuster Star Wars
  22. 22. discussion questions 1. Does the unsafe space in horror and disaster movies affect you outside the cinema? Why or why not? 2. Consider other horror or disaster movies: do they have unsafe spaces? Explain. 3. Do you see gender or political angles in other horror or disaster movies you’ve seen? Explain. 4. What kinds of camera angles work best in horror and disaster movies? Why?

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