Shark experts always seem quick to point out that the odds of becoming the victim of a shark attack are incredibly low. But the chance must be even lower that a young, untested director armed with a shoestring budget and a malfunctioning mechanical monster could turn a popular novel into one of the biggest films in box-office history and a defining pop-culture event.
In 1975, Steven Spielberg did that with "Jaws." Now, 30 years later, Universal is releasing a special anniversary edition of the film on DVD that does justice to the iconic film.
The most attractive feature of the DVD set is the film's beautiful transfer. "Jaws" doesn't look a day over 15 -- and it sounds just as good. And with John Williams's celebrated score, the audio had better be awesome. Like so many of his other soundtracks, ("Star Wars," "Raiders of the Lost Ark" and "Superman," among others) Williams's brilliantly simple cello line is as memorable and evocative as the film's images.
But cinema classics aren't built on directorial ingenuity and legendary soundtracks alone. The set's second disc is almost solely devoted to a lengthy feature that looks at every little thing that went into the making of "Jaws" -- from author Peter Benchley's original commission to write the book, to its adaptation to screenplay and ultimately to filming.
Interviews with actors Roy Scheider, Richard Dreyfuss and even Spielberg himself reveal the trials and tribulations of filming at sea, working with giant mechanical fish and trying to beat a Screen Actors Guild deadline.
The set also contains outtakes and deleted scenes, a library of production stills and storyboards. Additionally the DVD is packaged with a 60-page collector's photo journal that features glossy film stills and quotes from the movie and making-of featurette.
It should not be forgotten that, in addition to setting box office records, "Jaws" also was responsible for creating the summer movie extravaganza, a marketing model that lives on today. With Memorial Day weekend behind us and families flocking to the beach, the release date for "Jaws" is once again favorable. Not only has the cool action thriller kept its teeth, but it stands as a humble reminder that once upon a time there were brains behind the beasts of summer cinema.
Universal; DVD $22.90; rated PG; available Tuesday
New On DVD:
Casino -- 10th Anniversary Edition (Universal Studios Home Video: DVD $22.90; rated R; available Tuesday) Robert De Niro, Sharon Stone and Joe Pesci star in Martin Scorsese's crime-epic about the rise and fall of the mob in the casinos of Las Vegas. The DVD includes a wealth of behind-the-scenes material and historical background.