If I remember correctly, Stephen King’s “Cujo” was the first book to scare me, but the first movie to haunt my dreams was Steven Spielberg’s Jaws.
With “Cujo” it was just a thought that two red eyes were staring out of my closet at me (I was very young by the way). With Jaws it was a couple of things. First the image of the giant shark leaping out of the water, though if memory serves, I don’t even believe I could see a shark, just the giant splashing. Fitting if you think about it. Second was that piercing screech that accompanies the shot of Ben Gardner’s head popping out of a hole in his boat. I know now the latter scene was shot in a swimming pool in editor Verna Fields’ backyard. Yet, where it was shot doesn’t make the scene any less effective and this new Blu-ray from Universal captures all of the sights and sounds you remember and presents them in pristine high-definition. This is a Blu-ray to buy.
It was curious timing for this Blu-ray to arrive as I’m still finishing Peter Biskind’s [amazon asin=”0684857081″ text=”Easy Riders, Raging Bulls”] and have just gone beyond the point where Spielberg made Jaws, a film partially responsible for changing the way movies are made, marketed and consumed. The film was one of the first to use television ads for marketing as it opened in a record-breaking 465 theaters. 78 days later it was the all-time box-office leader, topping The Godfather. It has since amassed a total of $260 million over the course of its lifetime and 37 years later it is clearly still capturing our attention today.
This Blu-ray offers up a full restoration, of which I took to comparing to my 30th Anniversary DVD release and to say I compared it is to also say there is no comparison. The clarity of the image is incomparable, this is the definitive edition of this film until someone comes along and actually devises a way to have the shark literally chew off on your leg. Even the DVD that’s included has vastly improved images, many of which I have already previewed in a recent “Paused” piece, which you can read right here.
The image got a full makeover, colors are more accurate and vivid and a green hue I only now notice on my seven-year-old DVD is gone. Universal has also given the audio track a DTS 7.1 remaster and it fills your surround speakers just as you would want. I’ve included the restoration featurette that’s on this disc at the bottom of this review to give you a good idea of just what exactly you’re in store for.
Also included for the first time, and exclusive to the Blu-ray, is the feature length documentary “The Shark is Still Working: The Impact and Legacy of Jaws” which builds on the previously released feature-length documentary “The Making of Jaws” (also included on this release).
“The Shark is Still Working” was made seven years ago and I actually first wrote about it back in May of 2005 when director Erik Hollander was bringing more and more people to help tell the story of the film’s making and it is utterly fascinating from top to bottom as virtually everyone weighs in on the film’s legacy. It’s both nostalgic and revelatory and while it doesn’t go into some of the more scandalous stories found in Biskind’s book, it certainly tells of the troubles that went into making the film and the inventive way Spielberg and his crew got around all obstacles.
Additional features include those that were previously released including the aforementioned “The Making of Jaws” documentary, the restoration featurette included below, deleted scenes and outtakes and more. Largely, the restored film and two documentaries are more than enough reason to buy this disc as Universal is really starting to show they give a damn when it comes to upgrading their classics, on this, the 100th anniversary of the studio.
The only thing I found a little curious was to wonder why they didn’t present it as a digibook package as they have with recent Blu-ray releases for To Kill a Mockingbird, The Sting, All Quiet on the Western Front and others. The 30th Anniversary DVD included a 56-page Commemorative Photo Journal… why wasn’t something similar done here?
Either way, that’s a small complaint and certainly not a reason for you not to buy this Blu-ray. Priced at only [amazon asin=”B007STBUIW” text=”$17.99 at Amazon”] this is a title you should already have in your cart if you’re reading this review. It’s easily one of Spielberg’s best and the film that truly put him on the map and as the documentary implies, 37 years later the shark is still working.