Mack: Blu-Ray ‘Jaws’ thrives in special featuresWritten by Jason Mack | | firstname.lastname@example.org
If I ever had a chance of feeling safe to go back in the water, the high-resolution release of “Jaws” on Blu-Ray ruined it.
In the digitally remastered and restored film, the blood is more vibrant, the razor-sharp teeth more menacing and the fear more real. Director Steven Spielberg said it looks better than when it was originally projected in theaters. I can’t speak to that, but it looks amazing. Another selling point is the remastered audio, which takes full advantage of the brilliant score by John Williams. Along with the increased quality, the Blu-Ray features a collection of old and new features such as documentaries and deleted scenes.
“The Making of Jaws” is a two-hour documentary going in-depth into everything “Jaws” including production problems, translating the story from book to movie and anecdotes from Spielberg as well as the actors, writers and producers. One of the best stories is about when the Orca was sinking and Spielberg was trying to get the actors to safety. Sound editor John Carter had a different idea.
“He picked up the Nagra [an audio recorder], he was on the boat, held it over his head and said, ‘F*** the actors, save the sound department!’” Spielberg said. “I have this image to this day of John sinking, holding the Nagra over his head, the water up to John’s ankles, up to his knees, the boat, scrambling to pull everybody off the sinking Orca, and John with his nagger going under.”
My favorite part of the documentary is a detailed analysis of how Williams’ score was used to dramatically impact the film and announce the shark’s presence. During the scene when two kids pretend to be the shark, there is no music. Moments later when the music starts, you know something is about to go down.
Another fascinating section of the documentary is about the difficulties of shooting on the water and dealing with malfunctioning special effects. They nearly led to the movie being shut down. Spielberg sums up the horror of making the horror movie with a recounting of a nightmare.
“Every time I fell asleep, I dreamt I was in the third or fourth day of shooting,” he said. “I’d wake up with an electrical explosion in my brain, my heart beating, can’t catch my breath, looking around the room, where am I, disoriented. I calm down, get a glass of water, go back to sleep again. Same dream. I’m on the fourth day of shooting, and I know I’ve got another 146 days left. I wake up again, same thing. This thing was just haunting me all night long, so I didn’t get any sleep. ‘Jaws’ was a fun movie to watch, but not a fun movie to make.”
“The Shark Is Still Working: The Impact and Legacy of ‘Jaws’ ” goes a step further than the documentary in discussing the cultural phenomenon of “Jaws.” The parts about the success of the film and the crazy fans it created are fun. More interesting is the effect “Jaws” had on the movie industry. It’s widely regarded as the first summer blockbuster, and it also started the trend of advertising movies on TV. Directors such as Eli Roth and Kevin Smith discuss how “Jaws” is one of the main reasons they got into movie making.
“Jaws: The Restoration” is a look into how the original 35mm film was restored into a high-definition Blu-Ray with 7.1 audio. It sounds like it’s just for cinephiles, but it’s fascinating to see how film from nearly 40 years ago can be turned into such a crisp picture. It’s also cool to see footage of Universal’s massive film library.
All of the special features are fun to watch, but the restoration itself is what really drives this release.
***** out of 5