Jaws: 30th Anniversary Special Edition (1975)
Main Menu Audio & Animation
Scene Selection Anim & Audio
Featurette-Making Of-A Look Inside Jaws
Featurette-Shark Facts (Interactive)
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-From The Set -1974
|Year Of Production||1975|
|Running Time||118:51 (Case: 124)|
|RSDL / Flipper||
Dual Disc Set
|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 Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
English dts 5.1 (768Kb/s)
Czech Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Hungarian Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||2.30:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||2.40:1||Miscellaneous|
English for the Hearing Impaired
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
To celebrate the 30th anniversary of its theatrical release, Jaws has been re-released as a Special Two-Disc Edition DVD. Jaws remains one of the all-time great thrillers that expertly taps into the most primal of human fears - the fear of the unknown. It's also remembered as the film that changed Hollywood, and for launching the stellar career of a then unknown director still in his twenties - Steven Spielberg.
Growing up in Arizona, Steven Spielberg had made his first amateur film, an 8-minute Western (The Last Gun) at the age of 12. Spielberg funded the project with a tree-planting business. Charging local kids admission to see his films, by 14 Spielberg had become more ambitious, and had made a 40-minute war film, Escape To Nowhere, shot on 8mm, and another short, Battle Squad, which mixed WW2 footage with sequences he'd shot at Phoenix airport. Buoyed by his success, Spielberg began work on Firelight, a 140-minute sci-fi epic, based on a story his sister had written about a UFO attack. Of course the themes of aliens and WWII were to appear frequently throughout Spielberg's later work. Another recurring theme is the semi-autobiographical one of a child (often a young boy) in distress, with a remote or absent father.
Interestingly, Spielberg was refused entry to the University of Southern California's film course not once, but twice, and he ended up studying English at California State University instead. Spielberg's first big break was to come in the form of a short, Amblin', that was a prize-winner at the Atlanta Film Festival, and won Spielberg a seven-year contract with Universal Studios. (In memory of this, he would name his first production company Amblin Entertainment.) Now a working director, 22-year-old Spielberg honed his skills directing episodes of television, including Marcus Welby MD and Columbo.
Spielberg's first project to grab industry attention was the made-for-television Duel (1971), which was followed by the reasonably successful feature film Sugarland Express (1974). But it was Spielberg's work on Duel that convinced producers to let him direct Jaws (1975), a project that had a very similar theme. Indeed, Spielberg later referred to Jaws as Duel "with water".
The $US8.5 million Jaws was to become a phenomenal critical and commercial success, raking in $US260 million. Indeed, it became the first film to break the $US100 million barrier, and it did that in North America alone. Jaws was to launch a career that is unmatched in terms of box office success.
Spielberg's other notable films as a director include Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977), E.T. The Extra Terrestrial (1982), The Color Purple (1985), Empire of the Sun (1987), Schindler's List (1993), Amistad (1997), Saving Private Ryan (1998), Artificial Intelligence: AI (2001), and War of the Worlds (2005). In addition to these, Spielberg also directed the Indiana Jones trilogy and the first two Jurassic Park films.
Furthermore, Spielberg has also produced the very successful Poltergeist (1982), Gremlins (1984), The Goonies (1985), Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988), Twister (1996), Deep Impact (1998), The Mask of Zorro (1998), and the television series ER and Band of Brothers, as well as the Back to the Future trilogy and the two Men In Black films.
However, it is the phenomenal success of Jaws that is credited with creating the Hollywood trend for summer blockbusters. Prior to Jaws, studios churned out a number of movies each year that were 'hit or miss', but following Jaws, the big studios all opted to make fewer films, with maximum box office potential. Now 'big-event' films and summer blockbusters, with expensive marketing campaigns, were to be expected. For example, Jaws was quickly followed by Star Wars (1977), Grease (1978), and Superman (1978).
I was far too young to see Jaws at the movies, so like many others, my first experience was on television. One of the beauties of DVD is being able to finally see classic films like Jaws as intended - in a widescreen aspect ratio, without television censorship or annoying commercials.
As for the story, based on Peter Benchley's best-selling novel, the screenplay by Carl Gottlieb, Spielberg, and Benchley brilliantly captures the way people naturally speak and act. The story is set in the fictional New England coastal town of Amity, Long Island - a summer resort. The town's Police Chief Brody (Roy Scheider), and a bespectacled marine biologist Hooper (Richard Dreyfuss), believe a Great White Shark is responsible for a series of attacks on swimmers.
However, the unheeding and devious mayor (Murray Hamilton) is in favour of a cover up to protect the town's reputation as a popular summer holiday tourist destination. He orders Brody to keep the beaches open. Undoubtedly this dishonesty and corruption in public office resonated deeply with mid-70s audiences, following the Watergate saga and the Vietnam War.
Finally, when the town's leaders begrudgingly accept that their beaches are being terrorised by a shark, a grizzled old sea-dog named Quint (Robert Shaw) steps in with an offer to catch and kill the shark. Quint, a crusty character that plays homage to Captain Ahab, reluctantly takes Brody and Hooper on board his decrepit boat, The Orca, to the hunt the 25-foot Great White. Act Two and Three of the film are to be played out on board this vessel.
Even today what strikes me about the film is Spielberg's confident and commanding direction. He manipulates the audience as joyously and effectively as Alfred Hitchcock. Spielberg takes his time and really builds this film within a three-act structure. He devotes the first two-thirds of the film to building up the suspense, all accompanied by John William's rising and unnerving music. But later, as the audience has become conditioned in its response to the musical theme, the shark suddenly attacks with no musical prelude, and it's a terrifying shock. The movie builds to a final climax which apparently had audiences standing and cheering when first released at the cinemas.
The transfer is very good, considering the age of the film.
The transfer is presented in a widescreen aspect ratio of 2.30:1, 16x9 enhanced. This does differ from the film's theatrical aspect ratio of 2.39:1.
The sharpness and black level are both good. The shadow detail is also good, as seen in the exterior night shot of the boat at 43:52.
The colour is mostly good throughout, but occasionally some segments show their age. For example, occasionally the bright blue sky can appear a little murky. The skin tones are accurate.
While the image can occasionally appear a little grainy, there are no problems with MPEG artefacts.
Film-to-video artefacts appear in the form of some slight aliasing, such as the shimmer on the wooden panels of the house at 11:00. There is also some very minor telecine wobble at times, most noticeably during the opening credits.
A few tiny film artefacts, such as black or white marks, appear throughout.
English for the Hearing Impaired, Arabic, Bulgarian, Czech, Danish, Greek, Hebrew, Icelandic, Hungarian, Dutch, Norwegian, Romanian, Finnish, Swedish, Turkish, Czech Titling, and Hungarian Titling subtitles are present. The English subtitles are accurate.
Disc One with the feature is a Dual-Layered disc, with the layer change placed at 58:59. The feature is divided into 21 chapters.
Originally released theatrically in Optical Mono, two of Jaws' three Oscars related to audio, as it won Best Sound and Best Original Score.
Jaws was remixed for DVD release, and there are four audio options on this DVD: English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s), English dts 5.1 (768Kb/s), Czech Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s), and Hungarian Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s).
While many films have benefited from a dts audio option, this is not one of them. Perhaps considering the film's mono source, this should not be too surprising. I listened to both the English Dolby Digital 5.1 and dts 5.1 audio tracks, and heard no real difference between the two. Fortunately, they are both clean, and without background noise or distortion.
The dialogue quality and audio sync are fine on both the English Dolby Digital 5.1 and dts 5.1 audio tracks, although some of the ADR work does sound a little 'canned' at times.
The musical score is of course credited to the great John Williams, who was to win his first Oscar (of many) with this film. Indeed, Williams' impressive body of work now also includes the very successful franchises of the Star Wars, Superman, Jurassic Park, Harry Potter and Indiana Jones films. The ominous, now well-known, and oft-imitated 'da-dum shark theme' is comprised of two notes (E and F), played on a cello, which effectively manages to capture the relentless and mindless nature of the ominous shark. As with his beautiful score for ET, it's hard to imagine Jaws without Williams' music. Indeed, the film's Producer, David Brown, claims that when Universal Executives first saw the film without the score they described Jaws as merely "okay".
The surround presence and activity is a bit of a mixed bag. Again, considering the film's mono source, maybe this is to be expected. The surround sound mix is quite front-heavy, but at times the rear speakers are used effectively to help carry the score, such as during the dramatic moments at 25:37 and 51:30. However, the rears seem seldom used to provide ambience. For example, the noisy town meeting at 19:36 or the chaotic dock scene at 27:20 are both crying out for surround activity.
The subwoofer is also utilised sparingly to support some of the sound effects, such as the explosion at 115:28.
|Surround Channel Use|
As a Two-Disc Special Edition, there are plenty of genuine extras, but still no audio commentary from Spielberg.
Animated with audio.
Featurette-Making Of-A Look Inside Jaws (108:45)
Produced, written, and directed by Laurent Bouzereau in 1995, this is a genuine and interesting documentary featuring the recollections and anecdotes of Steven Spielberg, Peter Benchley, John Williams, and Producers Richard Zanuck and David Brown. We also hear from some of the cast, photographers Ron and Valerie Taylor, and production designer Joe Elves. The Featurette tracks the progress of Jaws from novel, to script, to production, to the early screenings. The cast and crew share stories about the problems of filming in the ocean, as opposed to a tank, and the well-known problems with Bruce the mechanical shark. Divided into 19 chapters, apart from interviews, the documentary also includes some behind the scenes footage, storyboards, and stills from the production.
Galleries containing original concept art, storyboards, photographic stills, and posters.
Shark facts presented with narration and animation. Using the DVD remote, viewers can learn more about sharks by selecting various items.
Thirteen deleted scenes.
A short collection of outtakes.
An archival short piece shot during production. It features an interview on location with a 26-year-old Steven Spielberg.
Four scenes are presented in a split screen format, with the storyboard on the left, and the film on the right.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
This 30th Anniversary Edition has also been released on DVD in Region 1.
The Region 4 DVD misses out on:
The Region 1 DVD misses out on:
The R1 is packaged as a Amaray Case inside a cardboard box, with the Photo Journal. The R4 review discs arrived without packaging, so I can't comment on that. However, it seems that we got two bonus extras, yet about 15 mins have been trimmed from the R2 and R4 A Look Inside Jaws Featurette. Apparently the cuts are to clips taken from the film.
Jaws is an outstanding commercial and critical success and a must-see DVD. I imagine a number of fans would already own the 25th Anniversary Collector's Edition. So is it worth 'upgrading'?
There are a few variations in the extras - for example, the last DVD release had The Making Of Jaws (50:12), which covers the same ground (although not in as much detail) as A Look Inside Jaws (108:45) , and the Jaws trailers are missing from this edition.
The biggest change, however, is the addition of a dts soundtrack. Considering the film's mono source, and the fact that it is of the same quality as the Dolby Digital option, I can (cynically) only assume this is a marketing decision to 'double dip' into the pockets of fans.
So, in summary, I would say "no" - it's not worth 'upgrading'. Others, of course, are welcome to disagree.
The video quality is very good considering the age of the source material.
The audio quality is also very good, albeit quite front-heavy.
The extras are genuine and interesting.
|DVD||Pioneer DV-535, using S-Video output|
|Display||Grundig Elegance 82-2101 (82cm, 16x9). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.|
|Amplification||Sony STR DE-545|
|Speakers||Sony SS-V315 x5; Sony SA-WMS315 subwoofer|