Written by Peter Benchley & Carl Gottlieb, based on Benchley’s novel
Directed by Steven Spielberg
Starring Roy Scheider, Richard Dreyfuss, Robert Shaw, Lorraine Gary, Murray Hamilton
- Deleted scenes & outtakes
- Interview from the set with director Steven Spielberg
- “The Making of Jaws” docu
- Production photos, storyboards, marketing and poster gallery
- Limited edition 60-page commemorative photo journal
Released by: Universal
My Advice: Own it, especially if you didn’t pick up the 25th anniversary edition.
[ad#longpost]Jaws is by far one of the best films of all time. Spielberg‘s blockbuster kept countless people who saw its premiere in 1975 away from the water (or, in the case of one person I know, afraid to even put her feet down in the car on the way home from seeing it in the cinema). Even for my jaded and cynical generation who grew up with the film, the flick is still scary. But behind the fear and delicious horror that so many people have experienced over the years is a really good film: well-crafted, shot, and acted. If you’re already a fan, this set will foster a deeper knowledge and appreciation of the film, and if you’re not familiar with it, you should be. This set is your ultimate guide.
If for some reason the story is unfamiliar to you, here’s a recap. Off the coast of Amity Island, a swimmer is attacked by a mysterious something. The new sheriff, Martin Brody (Scheider), who does not like the water, calls in Matt Hooper (Dreyfuss) from the oceanographic institute to confirm that it was indeed a shark that attacked the swimmer. Meanwhile, Brody tries to convince the mayor (Hamilton) to close the beaches, which he refuses to do right before the busy 4th of July weekend, setting the stage for more mayhem and more of that kickass John Williams theme.
As fabulous as the film is, the features on this set make it even better. The interview with Steven Spielberg on the set is really telling, for no other reason than to remind you just how young he was when he filmed this movie (26!), but is interesting for its content as well. The two-hour documentary is one of the most comprehensive I’ve seen as a DVD feature–this version was seen in its abridged form on the 25th anniversary disc, but this longer version is amazing. They pretty much interviewed everyone involved with the film, except for the late Robert Shaw, and the stories of so many people about the highs and lows of making this notoriously difficult film were a joy to watch.
Everyone’s covered and puts in their two cents: from Peter Benchley, who wrote the novel on which the movie was based, co-scribed the thing itself and played the anchorman in the film, to the editor who spent much of the shooting days waiting for footage to edit. The archives are a mixed bag: the production photos are great and often funny (various people sitting in the shark’s mouth, for example), and the storyboards are interesting, but some of the marketing posters got a little old–how many times do you want to see every single poster from all over the world when the only difference is the title (although the French title, Les Dents a la Mer, or “The Teeth of the Sea,” was pretty funny)? Still, we’re completists, so better to have it and get tired of it than to not have it and complain, right?
The deleted scenes and outtakes are pretty par for the course, although frankly I expected to see more outtakes with as many stories about shark malfunctions and boats sailing into frame as I heard during the documentary. The other neat thing about this set is the booklet that comes with it. Aside from the great photos from the film and the set, it has quotes from the film and the documentary, as well as tidbits of info about the film. This version still has no audio commentary, however, which would be nice, although the documentary covers much of what would probably be in such a commentary. But still.
If you don’t already own the 25th anniversary edition, go and buy this set now. If you have the earlier version, at least rent this one so you can see the Spielberg interview and the unedited documentary. Then decide whether or not to plonk down the extra coin.