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Jaws on Blu-ray disc

Jaws restored Blu-ray disc set review

The great white is back in Blu

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Jaws is back, and the old shark’s gnashers are looking sharper than ever thanks to a painstaking remastering job by Universal’s backroom boffins. The title is being released as part of the studio’s centenary classics program for Blu-ray, which also includes E.T The Extra Terrestrial, The Birds and Frankenstein. The timing couldn’t be better. As Spielberg himself says in the disc’s explanatory featurette, “the negative of Jaws was pretty crummy, it was pretty bad.”

Jaws on Blu-ray disc

Jaws: restored as part of Universal's 100th anniversary

Few would argue that the film deserves its legendary status. The question is: does this eagerly-awaited high definition release actually do it justice? The short answer is yes… and no.

Jaws on Blu-ray disc

Colour restoration

There’s no denying that the studio techies have done a wondrous job with the restoration, the image clean-up is truly extraordinary. There’s no digital artifice about the picture, which remains authentically filmic; 35mm film grain to the fore rather than digital gloss. Original colour aberrations have been corrected, brightness and contrast balanced. Of the result, Spielberg says: “The image on a really good high-def TV screen looks better than the film looked when first projected in 1975.”

Jaws on Blu-ray disc

Damage limitation

When pulled from the vaults, the original 35mm film elements were found to suffer from copious vertical scratches. This damage was removed by wet-gate scanning the negative to 4K resolution. A frame-by-frame damage-removal process then began on the digital file, to combat dirt, dust and tears. Spielberg and his Amblin Entertainment post-production team oversaw the entire process.

Jaws on Blu-ray disc

Nice day for a swim

The sound re-design has been equally well handled. The original elements have been up-mixed elegantly into DTS HD Master Audio 7.1, without recourse to over-wrought sound steerage. The new mix offers clean dialogue, and breathes chilling LFE life into John Williams' iconic score.

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Next page: A fishy tale

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