Exposure & Visual Components

The Visual Story, 2nd Ed. — Ch. 1: The Visual Components

Block (2008):

“Music easily communicates moods or emotions. Hitchcock’s Psycho (1960) or Spielberg’s Jaws (1975) demonstrate how music signals “terror” to the audience… In both cases, the filmmaker introduces the musical theme when the murderous character first appears and then, by repeating that theme, reminds the audience of the threat.” (pp. 3–4)

Psycho (1960)
Shower scene
Director: Alfred Hitchcock, Cinematographer: John L. Russell

In Jaws, the presence of music (or lack thereof) is more complex. Consider the progression of the following clips.

Jaws (1975)
Director: Steven Spielberg, Cinematographer: Bill Butler


  • Introduction of the theme
  • Shark attacks, but is not shown


  • Repetition of the theme
  • Again shark attacks, but is not shown


  • No theme during hoax
  • Theme builds (warning)
  • Shark attacks and is shown


  • No theme
  • Shark surfaces without warning

Block (2008):

Blue can mean “murder” to an audience, if it is properly defined for them… This is the concept used in Sidney Lumet’s Murder on the Orient Express (1974). (p.4)

Murder on the Orient Express (1974)
Director: Sidney Lumet, Cinematographer: Geoffrey Unsworth

The Godfather (1972)
Director: Francis Ford Coppola, Cinematographer: Gordon Willis

The above screen grabs are from the 5 minutes baptism scene at the end of The Godfather. The frequency of cuts to Michael Corleone (Al Pacino) increases as the scenes of murder build.

Block, B. (2008). The visual story: Creating the visual structure of film, TV and digital media, second edition. Burlington, MA: Focal Press

Photography & Exposure

Silent World
by Lucie & Simon