Steven Spielberg’s Jaws was the first summer blockbuster, a classic that not only cemented its director and stars in film’s pantheon, but transcended cinema altogether, taking a huge bite out of global pop culture. To this day, there are 40- and 50-somethings who quote this movie’s dialogue daily and still won’t go in the water. It’s the best monster movie ever made, and of course it’s legend that the unbearable suspense created by not seeing the beast for the first hour of the movie was due to the mechanical shark, Bruce, not working, forcing Spielberg and company to develop brilliant devices to have a shark movie without the shark. Jaws not only works every bit as well today as in 1975, it plays better for the writers’ and Spielberg’s genius in creating an entire town of believable, threedimensional characters, something sorely missed in today’s summer CGI extravaganzas. While getting a great actor to deliver an iconic performance is rare, Spielberg getting three from Dreyfuss, Scheider, and Shaw is unreal. And then there’s the music, which can be named in two notes by anyone on earth today. When you have all that, no one cares that the shark looks funky. A monumental achievement.
Jaws boasts one of the most gorgeous restorations yet, looking clean, sharp, vivid, and extremely colorful, with superb contrast and balance. Some purists will object, but the color timing and contrast on many crucial shots have been changed for better matching, and while film grain has been minimized a smidge more than I’d like, the image still looks natural and film-like. As stunning a transfer as anyone could hope for. Perhaps even more surprising is how effective the remastered 7.1-channel soundtrack is. John Williams’ iconic score has never had such weight and depth, and the clarity in sound effects and overall dynamics makes the “jump” scenes all the more effective.
Jaws is fairly loaded with extras, but the crown jewels are the two full-length documentaries focused on its making, cultural impact, and legacy. The first was made in the ’90s for a Laserdisc(!) release and remains a definitive work, notable for chunky interview time with director Spielberg. The newer piece features interviews with contemporary filmmakers and other bits and pieces not covered in the other (like meeting the artist who drew the iconic paperback cover that became the poster art). They complement each other, and each is essential, informative, and entertaining. Jaws on Blu-ray does its fandom proud and then some. An absolute treasure for the ages.
Studio: Universal, 1975
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
Audio Format: DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1
Length: 124 mins.
MPAA Rating: PG
Director: Steven Spielberg
Starring: Roy Scheider, Robert Shaw, Richard Dreyfuss