Jaws (Blu-ray) (1975)
Featurette-Making of Jaws
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-From The Set -1974
Featurette-The Restoration of Jaws
Featurette-The Shark is Still Working
|Year Of Production||1975|
|RSDL / Flipper||Dual Layered||Cast & Crew|
|Start Up||Language Select Then Menu|
|Region Coding||2,4,5||Directed By||Steven Spielberg|
Universal Pictures Home Video
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||
English DTS HD Master Audio 7.1
English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (448Kb/s)
French DTS HD Master Audio 7.1
French Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (448Kb/s)
Italian dts 5.1 (768Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (448Kb/s)
Spanish dts 5.1 (768Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (448Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||2.35:1|
|Original Aspect Ratio||2.35:1||Miscellaneous|
English for the Hearing Impaired
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
To celebrate the 100th anniversary of Universal Pictures the studio has made a commitment to restore, remaster and release 100 of its best loved titles on Blu-ray. This has seen a rush of product reaching our shores. No complaints there, but film lovers will have to take out a second mortgage to be able to afford all the goodies on the horizon. This month Universal is releasing two box sets of classic films including a 14 Blu-ray set of Hitchcock movies (almost all of which are new to high-definition) as well as a collection of the great Universal monster movies of the 40s and 50s.
Whilst the release of Jaws on Blu-ray is a welcome addition to the catalogue and to anyone's movie collection it is a little disappointing that the film has taken so long to be released. Nevertheless, as a fashionably late party guest it has arrived with a box of chocolates and two bottles of wine. Welcome in!
More ink has been spilt regarding Jaws than almost any other contemporary movie. Perhaps that is because, for many, it represents either the beginning of the end or a new beginning. In 1975 when the film was released it immediately shot to the top of the box office based around a whole new style of promotion, marketing and widescreen blitzing of America. For the first time films were tied in with mass marketing campaigns and merchandising.
Peter Biskind in his book Easy Riders and Raging Bulls devotes a huge section of his text to an examination of the effect that Jaws had on future moviemaking and movie marketing. For him it was a somewhat sad step when the icons of American cinema of the late 60s and early 70s were overridden by the young brash money minded Hollywood. It was a time when films ceased being targeted at adults. Perhaps, but there is no doubting the sheer excitement and talented moviemaking on offer in this, Spielberg's first major hit.
Steven Spielberg had been making movies for some years. Some of them are no longer available. Duel, which was filmed for television, was an early triumph and Spielberg, in the making of documentary, points out that Jaws is in many ways a cousin of Duel with the shark replacing the truck. His first cinema feature directorial effort was The Sugarland Express. My own dearest memory of early Spielberg was watching his made-for-TV film Something Evil on a late night TV horror marathon. When the presenter warned that "this one will have you crawling up the walls!" he wasn't lying.
But back to the social impact of Jaws. When, in primary school, my friend Darren walked through the playground sporting a brand-new pair of Jaws socks he turned every head. It would be some time before my Star Wars 77 T-shirt reclaimed some glory. Actually, it would also be some time before I would be allowed to see Jaws - it belonged on a list that came to include Alien as films deemed too violent for the tender mind.
Jaws was the film that succeeded in spite of itself. Throughout the extensive extra features contained in this Blu-ray set is a litany of problems most stemming from the malfunctioning mechanical shark. In fact, there were two key problems. The shark rarely worked and Spielberg's bold insistence on shooting at sea, rather than in a studio tank, created innumerable issues. As he relates, it was these problems that actually help make the film a success. The open sea shooting gave the film a real sense of veracity and the malfunctioning shark meant that they had to improvise using a "less is more" philosophy that ramped up the suspense. Indeed, the only laughably poor moments in the film are those where the shark is in full view, most particularly the shot where it jumps onto the boat and starts chomping away at Peter Quint.
Jaws has been reviewed twice on this site in a 25th and a 30th Anniversary Edition. Brandon V gave a detailed summary of the film in his review. The question to those who already have this in their collection is whether it is worth the high-definition upgrade. That, of course, involves two questions:
For the answers to these see below…
Jaws is presented in a 2.35:1 aspect ratio which is consistent with its original theatrical release.
The film has already had a fairly decent history of DVD releases. In both reviews mention is made of the good picture quality and only minor issues such as artefacts.
With this Blu-ray comes a feature looking at the restoration process. Steven Spielberg explains how he took an active role in the restoration to ensure that the film was accurate to his original vision.
It is a cracker. The film has never looked this good, probably since it first came out of the can. Not only are the colours accurate and vibrant but the flesh tones are accurate. The picture is very sharp.
There is a light grain consistent with the film stock used and the style of the film.
Sound has always been an important factor in the Jaws story. The two note motif not only made John Williams an Oscar winner but also almost a household name. Previous releases of the film have contained expanded soundtracks. The film was originally shown in mono sound and cine files have questioned whether there is value in adding surround sound. This soundtrack ups the ante. We now have a DTS HD Master Audio 7.1 track.
The original 2.0 track is available. There is also a French 7.1 2005 dub, a French 2.0 1975 dub, Italian DTS 5.1 2004 dub and Italian mono 2.0 original dub, a Spanish 5.1 and 2.0 mono track. However, it must be said that the 7.1 track does a marvellous job of conveying the tension and drama in the film. The whole soundscape is used to affect. Take, for example, the scene where Bruce is slamming into the side of the Orca. The sound is now from the rear channels intensifying the experience.
As said, John Williams won an Oscar for his score of Jaws. Almost 40 years later aspects of the score still scrub up remarkably well. The main theme is still impressive and dread inducing. Some of the jaunty moments seem a little out of place with the action nowadays and the Peter Quint theme Fair Spanish Maiden now seems as obvious as the Darth Vader theme. Nevertheless, the good news is that the score sounds remarkably precise and detailed.
The sub-woofer comes into effect fairly sparingly.
|Surround Channel Use|
There are a wealth of extras on this Blu-ray. The question is, are any new and indispensable?
The previous editions were also awash with extras, as follows:
The answer is that there is an essential addition which is not entirely new. The following were previously available on DVD for Jaws fans:
The major addition is a feature length documentary:
The film has a Play All function but is otherwise divided into 10 parts as below:
The film was actually put together by fans of the film and is narrated by Roy Scheider. It was premiered in 2009 but is "new" to home video. It is, like the other features (bar the restoration), in standard definition.
An interesting look at the restoration process with Spielberg outlining his aims to present the most consistent and vivid experience.
In all Regions the featurette Spotlight on Location: The Making of Jaws 1995 documentary that was on the 25th but not the 30th release has been ported over to a DVD. For those in this Region who don't have the 25th Anniversary release it is an unfortunate but probably not life changing omission.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
The Editions available in various Regions are identical except for the DVD as an extra that was not on the reviewed copy. The version I reviewed is a single Blu-ray. At this stage it is not clear whether the extra DVD edition will be available in the Region.
The millions of fans of Jaws worldwide will have already rushed into their retailers to buy this Blu-ray faster than swimmers escaping a beach after a shark sighting. The upgrade in picture and sound quality is pronounced and for those without the earlier editions in their collection this is a no-brainer.
The extra features added to the Blu-ray release are extensive in terms of a full-length documentary. It is fair to say that there is still nothing really created for this Blu-ray release but the truth is that the previous documentaries have been so comprehensive that there is probably not much left to say.
|DVD||Cambridge 650BD (All Regions), using HDMI output|
|Display||Sony VPL-VW80 Projector on 110" Screen. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.|
|Amplification||Pioneer SC-LX 81 7.1|
|Speakers||Aaron ATS-5 7.1|