If you’ve seen samples of film restoration and been curious about the process, then you definitely shouldn’t miss out on this fascinating mini-documentary about the restoration of Jaws. Universal dusted off the original negatives – which are now about 38 years old and, to use Spielberg’s phrasing, “pretty crummy” – and digitally remastered them for a 2012 release to celebrate 100 years of Universal film.
The video offers commentary from the director himself, several of the digital artists who were involved in the process, and representatives from Universal who were in charge of the project. It also details the frankly astonishing amount of work that went into removing flaws such as scratches from the original negative – work that meant them often spending up to three or four hours on just one frame of film.
The end result of all this is that the film will be coming to Blu-ray on August 14th. If you want to spend your summer getting scared all over again, then why not find out if the giant shark is just as scary in his glossy digitally-restored form?
Before we post the video, here’s some bits of trivia sent to us by Universal’s PR people. They run the gamut from interesting to amusing and somewhere along the way you’ll find yourself wondering how they managed to get that giant mechanical shark to do anything other than just swim in circles.
- Early in pre-production, before the producers settled on building a mechanical shark, they seriously considered training a live shark.
- On the day of his arrival on Martha’s Vineyard, Robert Shaw’s home was sprayed with gunfire. The shooter didn’t realise the place was occupied.
- Charlton Heston expressed a strong interest in playing Chief Brody. Steven Spielberg also considered Robert Duvall, who said he’d rather play Quint.
- Even after the crew eventually got the full-size mechanical shark working, it still could never move its tail to the right.
- During the shoot, Murray Hamilton (Mayor Vaughan) was attacked by a skunk while walking home one evening. He’d mistaken it for a cat, and had tried to pet it. The next day he had to burn his clothes.
- The actor playing Ben Gardner (whose rolling head supplies the movie’s biggest shock moment) was real Martha’s Vineyard fisherman Craig Kingsbury, one of the real-life inspirations for Quint.
- Richard Dreyfuss (Hooper) had never been on a boat before working on Jaws.
- After the shark is blown up and as it sinks to the floor, you can hear a monstrous roar, which is actually taken from The Creature From The Black Lagoon. The very same sound was used as the truck goes crashing off the cliff at the end of Spielberg’s Duel.
- Fidel Castro was a big fan of Jaws.
- Spielberg’s original concept for the final shot would be to riff on Hitchcock’s The Birds by pulling back revealing a sea full of shark fins.
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