I cannot think of a better film to see, re-released in cinema, than Jaws. The thought of that awesome score emanating through a cinema’s sound system must get you excited. The film is so suited to the cinema environment; with its epic man vs. beast storyline, the revered place it holds in our culture, and how well it simply entertains, Jaws can easily be seen as a definitive example of cinema. It’s famously now regarded as the first summer blockbuster, and offers us a level of spectacle, humour and excitement rarely matched in a big summer release. On top of all that; when it then tries to fulfil its primary goal, which is to scare the hell out of us, it succeeds mightily. Restored as part of Universal’s one hundred year celebration, Jaws still contains everything that we love about it, and nothing has been taken away or altered. That’s right, there hasn’t been a brand new CGI shark inserted or even any dialogue changed around. There’s not even a 3D conversion. All that has happened is that visually and audibly the film has been repaired, so that we get to see the original film as if it had been released today, which is awesome.
Jaws was one of the films I was most excited for this year, unfortunately for whatever reason it seems that I was amongst the minority of cinema goers. At the screening I attended, there were only five people present in the audience. Whether people are just are not interested in seeing an old film re-released, I don’t know, but I want to think that it was just because of the timing of the screening. The effort put into the restoration deserves to be experienced and appreciated by more people than that. Reading around on the internet however, indicates that I wasn’t the only one who noticed the empty theatres. Still, maybe everyone else is just waiting for the coming Blu-ray release which will be, as in the cinema, fully restored. The restoration itself has been really nicely handled. Basically, the scratches on the film have been repaired and the colours recharged so that it doesn’t look its thirty seven years. There are a couple of moments where the quality does slip slightly; however these are rare and presumably unavoidable due to the condition of the original film. There is a pretty good little documentary available on YouTube, which is worth checking out. It details the process involved in the restoration and is called ‘Jaws – Blu-Ray Restoration Documentary’.
Jurassic park, another Spielberg classic, is getting similar treatment this year. Not only is it also getting restored for a Blu-ray release, but it is also appearing in cinemas having been converted into 3D. I for one was really glad to see Jaws in 2D, and that’s not to say I am against conversions, it’s just that I really wanted to sit in the cinema and see the film as I knew it, and not be distracted by noticing how the conversion had improved/worsened different scenes. Jurassic Park on the other hand I imagine will be fantastic in 3D; I think it really lends itself to the format. And if they put as much care into Jurassic Park as they did Jaws, then it should be another really fantastic film event.
Seeing Jaws was one of the most enjoyable cinema experiences I have ever had. Unlike watching a film for the first time, re-releases have a different feel about them. You know that you will love the film, unless you are lucky enough to be seeing it for the first time, and instead of being wrapped up in the plot, you instead experience the simple joy of seeing a beloved film on the big screen. Scenes such as the opening of Jaws, where the mix of audio and visual combines so perfectly in a film, are a real pleasure to watch. It’s moments like these which caused me to fall in love with film, and getting the chance to see an example of one of them on the big screen was incredible. Long may this recent trend of re-releases continue.