Think Jaws is about a fear of sharks? Well, you’re right - to an extent. Jaws is also about a fear of people and Spielberg repeatedly makes reference to the lunacy of the masses throughout the film.
1. In the pre-amble to the attack on Alex Kintner, Brody is having to battle through a sea of people to keep his eye on the water. Spielberg lines up our vision with Brody’s, so when people get in the way of him, they get in the way of us too.
2. After the attack, a town meeting is called where Spielberg fills the frame with a mass of people, all of whom are arguing about what course of action to take.
3. When the reward for the killing of the shark is announced, the people of Amity descend on the docks and again Spielberg’s frame is filled with people all happy to put their lives on the line to claim the money.
4. When a shark is killed, masses of people again crowd together in the shot. In a neat gag, Spielberg even has a news reporter (played by the film’s writer Carl Gottlieb) desperately try to marshal the people into a neat photograph.
5 and 6. The fear of crowds is at its most obvious during the Fourth of July sequence, when panic inspires people to rush out of the water, stranding small children and elderly women along the way.
Spielberg is known for celebrating crowds of people, but as these scenes (and sections of War of the Worlds show), there’s chaos, as well as comfort, in communities.