Modern Magic Restores 'Jaws' to Finny Glory

by David Weiner 2:43 PM PDT, April 10, 2012
Photo: Universal

Summer is coming, and once again you should be afraid to go into the water… Jaws is swimming onto Blu-ray on August 14, and now film geeks can get an intricate look at the painstaking process required to restore one of film history's most influential classics. Watch the video…

Steven Spielberg's 1975 man vs. shark epic set the standard for blockbusters to come. But for film negatives, even more dangerous than an underwater predator is the damage and deterioration that comes with time and repeated use. The original negative for Jaws had faded dramatically and was loaded with dirt and scratches that needed to be digitally erased, literally frame by frame. Certain frames can take up to four hours each to repair using digital cleaning and manipulation.

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"The negative of Jaws was pretty crummy. It was pretty bad," says Spielberg. "What's exciting about this digital age where we're able to restore these movies, we can bring these classic movies back to life in a way that makes them more vivid than even we remember them when we went to the cinema to see them."

The film's soundtrack was also upgraded from mono to Dolby 7.1 while retaining the integrity of the original sound mix. The video explains just how this was done, and how serious attention was paid not only to the ominous notes of John Williams' Oscar-winning score – but to a special "dinosaur" embellish in the final moments of the film.

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"The wonderful thing about this restoration is ... that both the sight and sound is something that I didn't even get when I made the movie," says Spielberg. "It's the movie that people remember. It's just really crystal clear and very vivid."

The restoration of Jaws is part of Universal's centennial celebration, for which the studio is preserving a number of their classic films.