Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water…
In August 2012, Universal released a fully re-mastered Blu-ray version of the classic thriller Jaws, complete with an overhauled score and visuals. Fittingly enough for Halloween, the aquatic classic has its fair share of scares (see what I did there?), and obviously deserved a nod in out 31 Days of Horror extravaganza.
When I first watched Jaws, it was 1993. I was 10, and, looking back on it now, it probably wasn’t the best idea. What I thought was going to be a scary adventure movie (I loved scary movies, even at that age) turned out to be more of a psychologically scary traipse through one of my favourite childhood past times, effectively ruining swimming for me for a while. It was one of the first movies that I’d ever seen that made me actually scared to do something in real life. Sure, recent movies like Final Destination have made my stomach irk just before riding a roller coaster, but there was just nothing that compared to the way Spielberg – with the freaky music and the constant suspenseful atmosphere – brought his gigantic man-eating shark swimming into the psyche of swimmers worldwide. For a while after seeing Jaws, the fun of swimming in the ocean always seemed to be intermittently interrupted by a casual glance for shark fins in the distance.
Of course, what helped make the film more terrifying was John Williams’ subtle yet striking two-note opus that meant a shark attack was imminent. I can remember going into the water as a kid, and pretending to be a shark while humming the “duh-duh” theme. The two notes were instantly recognizable by anyone within earshot, though, admittedly, my hand breaking through the water in the pool wasn’t anywhere near as scary as the shark fin tearing at you through the ocean’s surface.
Now that I’ve grown up – though some would argue that statement – I’ve discovered a new-found love for Jaws, and when I heard about the remake, it seemed only logical that it had to be added to my collection. It doesn’t disappoint.
The re-mastered footage looks fantastic. The film has been completely color corrected, and appears much crisper and “real” looking. Skin tones are spot on, and the beaches and towns have never looked as bright and sunny. The changes are subtle enough though that they’re not immediately noticeable if you haven’t watched the original in a while. When put up side by side, however, the difference is unmistakable. This old film looks great on a big screen TV and the general consensus is that it looks even better than then it did when it was originally on the big screen!
The Blu-Ray also features a documentary called Jaws: The Restoration, which takes an in-depth look at the process of restoring the original 35mm file to Blu-ray specifications. Being a fan of Photoshop and photo retouching in general, it was incredible to watch the restoration team painstakingly go through the film frame by frame to correct any tears or blemishes on the original film. At one point, one of the team members says they could spend upwards of 2-3 hours correcting just one frame!
The Blu-ray is also loaded with other features and documentaries, and boasts nearly four hours of extras, including an all-new documentary The Shark Is Still Working: The Impact & Legacy of Jaws.
The bottom line is, if you’re a fan of the movie or – if you’re living under a rock – haven’t seen it yet, you owe it to yourself to enjoy this piece of cinematic history in all of its re-mastered beauty! Check out the promo clip below to see some of the re-master team at work!