Archive for Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Jaws’ still packs bite with anniversary DVD edition

June 22, 2005

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It might be three decades old, but "Jaws" still can make one think twice before venturing into the surf.

The opening sequence - in which a young woman goes for a moonlight swim and is attacked by a shark - is the epitome of terror.

Repolished for a two-disc "30th Anniversary Edition" (Universal, $22.98), the film never looked better.

Based on the best-selling novel by Peter Benchley, "Jaws" takes place at the fictional New England resort of Amity Island, where summer vacationers mean big bucks for the local businesses.

When the bloody remains of the swimmer are found on the beach, Police Chief Martin Brody (Roy Scheider) immediately suspects a shark attack. But the locals, led by Mayor Larry Vaughn (Murray Hamilton), try to persuade Brody to play it down so as not to scare away high-spending visitors. Their low-key approach appears to be right when a fisherman catches and kills what everyone believes is the rogue shark.

Enter shark expert Matt Hooper (Richard Dreyfuss), who tells the mayor and his friends that they've killed the wrong shark. What they should be looking for, Hooper says, is a great white shark.

The film has plenty of tense moments (thanks to director Steven Spielberg) some deft editing and John Williams' thumping score, before an old sea-going salt named Quint (Robert Shaw) offers to hunt down the killer - for a price.

Accompanied by Hooper and Brody, Quint steers his boat toward a memorable showdown with the shark.

Dreyfuss is especially effective as the intense Hooper, and Hamilton is perfect as the politician worried more about money than saving lives.

You might be thinking, "Wait a minute - I thought 'Jaws' was already on DVD." You're right. Universal released a single-disc version five years ago.

What's different about this edition? The original 50-minute "Making of ..." documentary has been expanded to two hours, offering even more insight into the thoughts of the actors, the producers, Benchley and Spielberg. New is an eight-minute spot that includes an interview with Spielberg and was made for British television during production of the film.

This edition is also accompanied by a 64-page book filled with color photographs taken during the filming. Deleted scenes and out-takes that were part of the original DVD are included.

If you're a fan of the movie or someone interested in owning a piece of film history, this special edition is well worth the price.

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