The 10 Greatest Jaws Moments – /Film

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Irmin Roberts, a second-unit cameraman for Paramount Pictures, first devised the dolly zoom while working on Alfred Hitchcock’s “Vertigo.” There, it was used to give the dizzying sensation of looking down and experiencing vertigo — an effect achieved by zooming one way while simultaneously moving the camera along a dolly in the opposite direction. In “Jaws,” Spielberg and cinematographer Bill Butler (“The Conversation,” “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”) used a horizontal version of the dolly zoom to heighten Brody’s reaction to the shark attack on young Alex Kintner (Jeffrey Voorhees).

The effect is preceded by another interesting bit of camerawork: the split diopter shot that allows us to see a man’s head big in the foreground, with the small figure of an ocean swimmer in the background, both in focus at the same time. Mr. Taft (an uncredited Phil Murray) is talking to Brody, but all the while, Brody keeps looking over his shoulder, trying to play beach lifeguard, only to experience a couple of false alarms.

He interacts with one of them, an old man in a swim cap (Alfred Wilde, also uncredited), who joshes him about not going in the water. Brody dismisses him with the line, “That’s some bad hat, Harry” (the namesake of the production company behind “The Usual Suspects” and “X-Men” movies).

People keep wanting Brody’s attention, but he’s preoccupied with nagging fears that the mayor and his rationalizations about Chrissie’s so-called “boating accident” could not quell. When the shark swims in and turns Alex’s raft into a fountain of blood, everything else falls away. The dolly zoom only lasts one or two seconds, but it’s an indelible image that puts the squeeze on Brody, crystallizing the moment when his worst fears are validated and a child dies under his watch.

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