When people watched "Saving Private Ryan" in theaters, many were shocked by the display of violence in the film, especially during the first 30 minutes, claiming that it was such an atypical approach for director Steven Spielberg. Since it is practically impossible for any moviegoer not to have seen "Jaws," it would therefor seem that many of those people have forgotten that the film that first defined Steven Spielberg's career was this horror monster shocker about a giant Great White shark. It has been over 35 years since this shark first haunted the beaches of Amity, a small East Coast community, and the film has long broken countless records and written move history, going down in the annals of Hollywood as one of the most successful films ever made.
As Universal is currently celebrating its 100th Anniversary, the studio has prepared a brand new high definition release of the movie to celebrate its landmark status within the Universal catalog.
The storyline of "Jaws" is fairly simple. Just before the summer season, Amity Island finds itself in the grip of a giant Great White shark that is prowling the ocean close to the beaches. Since these clean beaches are a tourist attraction, Amity's mayor has little interest in closing down the beaches and rob the small town of its vital income.
Hesitantly, Chief Brody (Roy Sheider) complies with the mayor's wishes and leaves the beaches open to the public, despite the warnings of oceanologist Matt Hooper (Richard Dreyfuss). Soon enough, on July 4th, the Great White chews up more innocent swimmers.
Brody teams up with fisherman Quint (Robert Shaw) and Hooper to take on this singularly big shark. Out in the ocean, far away from help, they finally manage to track down this ferocious eating machine, but instead of them hunting the beast, they soon realize that the beast is actually hunting them. A masterpiece of terror, suspense and minimalist storytelling, "Jaws" is not only a beautiful film to behold, but also one that has viewers on the edge of their seats, no matter how many times you have watched it. But simply forget all versions of "Jaws" you have seen before. This brand new high definition presentation of the movie is an absolute revelation! The movie has been restore entirely from the original negative and has been painstakingly cleaned up, color-corrected and transfer in a wet gate process. The result is an image that completely belies the movie's age. And I am not just saying this because I like the film. You have to see this to believe it. Never in its entire life has "Jaws" looked as pristine as here! There is not a single blemish, not a single speck and not a hint of grain to be found in the presentation. The image revels in strong color and hues and reveal a level of detail you never knew was there. The 2.35:1 transfer also makes sure the movie has an absolutely natural look, getting rid of that 70s look it often had before with an unbalanced and dated color palette.
Just like the video, the audio presentation of the film has been completely reworked. Presented here as 7.1 channel DTS HD Master Audio track, it is a powerful track that has been remixed in its entirety from the original sound elements. It is full-bodied with good frequency response and solid bass extension, despite its age. Surround usage is still limited, but, in a sense, it is the nature of the beast, as the film itself does not necessarily lend itself to aggressive use of spatial effects. The signature theme that John Williams wrote for the movie, as well as the rest of the orchestral score is definitely benefiting from the remix, as it adds clarity and punch to the music.
Naturally, "Jaws" has to come with bonus materials, and on this Blu-Ray disc there are many. Starting with a featurette that takes a look at the restoration process the film underwent for this release, you will also find an all-new multi-part documentary on the release, called "The Shark Is Still Working." Covering everything from the dreaded production problems that plagued the movie all the way to its impact on movies and the movie industry as a whole - "Jaws" is being credited with creating the summer blockbuster phenomenon, after all - there is plenty of interesting stuff to be found here, including new interviews with Steven Spielberg, Richard Dreyfuss and other cast and crew members.
Also included is the documentary "The Making Of Jaws." This is the full-length, 2-hour version of the documentary by Laurent Bouzereau and not the edited down version previously released as a DVD supplement.
A series of deleted scenes and outtakes are also on the disc, including some interesting and entertaining bloopers - I greatly enjoyed the one with Robert Shaw and the blood. Upon viewing the deleted scenes it is blatantly obvious why director Steven Spielberg decided to deleted them - they just don't add anything to the film - and the legendary scene that was cut for it graphic content and was deemed too horrific by Spielberg, just isn't that exciting, especially when compared to the Quint's death scene on the boat, which is truly one of the most horrifying deaths in mainstream film history. (I remember seeing the image in front of my eyes for weeks after I had first seen the film during its theatrical run, and I can't put into words how much I was affected by these teeth sinking into the soft flesh, with Quint struggling in agony, and no way to pry these massive jaws open.)
"From the Set" is another featurette included on the disc, along with tidbits on "Marketing Jaws," a look at the "Jaws Phenomenon," Storyboards and Production Photos, as well as the movie's trailer.
I feel everything has been said about "Jaws" over the years and everyone probably acknowledges the fact that it is one of the best films ever made. This high definition Blu-Ray version not only acknowledges this by adding a plethora of bonus materials to the release, but also by giving us the movie itself in a presentation that is as glorious as it could possibly be. I was expecting great things for this release, but nothing prepared me for this absolutely amazing release that Universal is delighting us with here. This is a five-star release through and through!
At this point, I think I also point out that Harper Collins has just released a completely reworked edition of Carl Gottlieb's book The Jaws Log. This book is an in-depth exploration of the plagued production of the movie, written by the film's screen writer himself as he practically kept journal on the set. For fans of this movie, the book is a must!