Tag Archives: Jaws

What is… a Dolly Zoom?

A dolly zoom is a camera effect that distorts an audience’s regular sense of visual perception. It is created by zooming in or out whilst the camera physically moves (dollies) in the opposite direction. For example, the camera would zoom in whilst dollying away. This keeps the subject of the frame roughly the same size throughout the effect, whilst the background moves closer or further away, depending on the direction of the zoom/dolly.

The invention of the effect has been credited to Irmin Roberts, a second-unit cameraman at Paramount, and was made famous by Alfred Hitchcock in Vertigo. Most film fans will be aware of the moment in Vertigo in which a dolly zoom is used and the effect it creates…

A dolly zoom creates a feeling of disorientation for the viewer. It is not an effect that the human visual system is used to seeing and can therefore be jarring and unsettling. It might be used to create a sense of height, as in Vertigo, unease, a sense of urgency or danger, or may show a sense of dawning realisation in a character. An example of this is in Steven Spielberg’s Jaws, where Brody realises that they do indeed have a shark munching on swimmers. See below…

Just some of the alternative names for a dolly zoom include:

  • The “Hitchcock zoom” or the “Vertigo effect”
  • “Hitchcock shot” or “Vertigo shot
  • Triple Reverse Zoom
  • Reverse Tracking Shot
  • Back Zoom Travelling
  • Telescoping
  • Trombone shot
  • Stretch shot
  • Reverse Pull
  • Contra-zoom

For more entries in the ‘What is…?’ series, click here and (hopefully) learn a little bit about deep focus, chiaroscuro, German Expressionism, and more.

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Small Roles… Big Performances Blogathon

This is a cracking Blogathon from Ruth over at Flixchatter that I’m hoping I can squeeze onto the end of. She’s had a hell of a response and there have been some great choices. The aim of the blogathon is to:

“Shine a spotlight on the ‘unsung heroes’ if you will, the overlooked performers who add so much richness & entertainment value to the film no matter how brief their appearance is, but yet they don’t get the credit they so deserve.”

Mine is a little offbeat but I hope it still fulfills the criteria. There were a few in consideration but I wanted to keep with Horror Movie Month and therefore decided to go with…

Bruce the shark – Jaws (1975)

There are few non-human characters who have had such an impact, not just in cinema, but in popular culture in general as Bruce. Named by the Jaws crew after Steven Spielberg’s lawyer, Bruce was quite the diva. He had over 40 technicians working on him at Rolly Harper’s Motion Picture & Equipment Rental in Sun Valley, California and would be driven everywhere he went. His failure to work when asked also caused the film to go massively over budget and on his debut he sank to the bottom of the ocean. His hydraulic system also exploded. Weird how sharks have evolved.

However, despite the problems, Bruce helped Jaws become one of the most beloved and influential films of all time despite only actually appearing on screen a few times throughout the film. The thing with Bruce is that he doesn’t need to appear on screen, most of his best work is done when you can’t see him but know he’s there – now that’s acting! But when he does show up, you certainly remember it. From that initial mauling at the beach to the iconic moment when Brody’s tossing food into the sea to his devouring of Quint, Bruce is never on screen for long, but when he is, he makes it count.

Bruce has not worked since Jaws, mainly because he was blown to smithereens by an oxygen tank, and although others have tried to take on the mantle, no other sealife before or since has matched his performance. He’s the reason you were scared to get back in the water (only Kevin Costner has been involved in a scarier movie out on the ocean) and is now embedded into movie folklore until the end of time.

Just in case you needed reminding, here’s some of his best work…

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Movies in reverse

I’m sure this has been done a million times before, but I thought i’d come up with some plot lines if films had been done in reverse. Ya know, just for laughs and that. Feel free to add your own in the comments section. Enjoy.


The Shining – Jack Nicholson thaws out from a block of ice, tries to kill his family with an axe, then becomes a caretaker.

Titanic – An ocean liner rises out of the ocean, hits an iceberg and safely docks in Southampton.

Jaws – A huge shark regurgitates swimmers whilst improving the tourist industry of a seaside town.

The Shawshank Redemption – A man breaks into a prison.

While You Were Sleeping – A man gets dumped at the alter, falls asleep for a while, then gets hit by a train.

Pretty Woman – Julia Roberts’ successful businessman boyfriend, Richard Gere, makes her become a prostitute.127 Hours

The Sixth Sense – A ghost befriends a young boy before becoming a child psychologist.

Taken – Kidnappers reunite Liam Neeson with his missing daughter.

127 Hours – A man surgically reattaches his severed arm and then climbs up a ravine.

We Bought a Zoo – They sell a zoo.

Elf – A family man has a breakdown and leaves for the North Pole to become one of Santa’s elves.

Cloverfield – A giant monster rebuilds New York, then leaves.
The Exorcist
Saving Private Ryan – A group of soldiers abandon a fellow solider in France and fight their way out of the country.

Ghostbusters – a group of middle-aged men release ghosts all over New York.

Runaway Bride – A woman keeps turning up late to weddings.

The Exorcist – A priest puts a curse on a young girl, making her possessed by the devil.

Into The Wild – A young man, sleeping on a bus in Alaska, finds his way back home just in time to graduate at university.

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Contagion – A load of sick people get better.

Castaway – Tom Hanks leaves his life behind to live on a desert island with a football.

The Notebook – A man tells his Alzheimer’s-suffering wife how he fell out of love with her.

Gone in 60 Seconds – Nicolas Cage returns expensive cars to their owners.

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button – A man is born, gets older, then dies.

Harry Potter – A bespectacled boy kills an evil wizard then goes to live in a cupboard under the stairs.

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