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JAWS (1975): DVD

Police chief Martin Brody (Roy Scheider), a scientist (Richard Dreyfuss), and a grizzled sailor Robert Shaw) set out to kill a shark that is menacing the seaside community of Amity Island.

"It comes in five dubbed and 21 subtitled languages, and the message in all of them is . . . 'dum dum dum dum' (That's a dumb musical joke for those familiar with composer John Williams' famous signature phrase that signals lurking danger.) Jaws became a blockbuster hit, and a reference point for creature thrillers because Steven Spielberg and the producers were the first to attempt a realistic drama with a giant white shark as the star. In the 50 minute doco about the film that is one of the disc's highlights, one of the producers, David Brown, admits that after their initial elation at signing to make the film, they faced a huge challenge. "If we'd read the script a second time," he says frankly, "we wouldn't have made the picture."

But they did. They had just produced Spielberg's Sugarland Express and then this came along; and how that happened is part of the doco, which is made in the tradition doco style. But of course it has been made especially for the DVD, with some footage of the younger Spielberg contrasting nicely with the Spielberg we see today. Bearded, greyer - and wiser. He remarks how he looks back on those years now, and how he thinks of Jaws as symbolising 'fear and stupidity'. Fear of danger, stupidity to make the film, perhaps. . . .

He refers to his earlier film, Duel, and how he recognised the parallel to Jaws (down to the four letter title…) He even used the same borrowed sound effect at the end of Jaws - actually from an earlier B grade dinosaur picture.

Ron & Valerie Taylor speak informatively about shooting some of the real shark footage underwater in Australia, and the cast (who were cast as "just good actors, since our shark was the star") reflect on their experiences - sometimes humourously. Richard Dreyfuss, for example, recalls how he had changed his mind about accepting the role after he saw his performance in the previous film he had shot, The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz. He thought he'd better get a job fast, before people saw how bad he was, he says. "I was awful! So I came crawling for the job . . . "

We also learn who was Spielberg's first choice for the role of Quint, eventually played (brilliantly) by Robert Shaw.

Spielberg himself tells us how he used to refer one of the models built for the film as the great white turd, and how filming became a drawn out and trying process for the whole crew. One anecdote of an accident with a boat drove home the dangers, as Spielberg called out to get the actors off a sinking boat. But the sound recordist, holding his gear over his head, had other ideas.

Even author Peter Benchley gets his say, and reveals the fight he had with Spielberg over the ending. Spielberg won.

The deleted scenes and outtakes are there simply for bumf and contribute little except trivia fodder; and the trivia game is pretty basic, with 12 questions and a clue button to take you to parts of the movie for the answers. For those who want to go deep into Jaws, there are storyboards and original drawings - and the trailers, which remind us how much trailers used to be (and how much less irritating the voice-over!)

Jaws was one of those films that are a milestone in movie making for one reason or another, and this DVD serves to revisit the film in digital quality and to put it in context through the supporting materials."
Andrew L. Urban

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You can buy it HERE - next day delivery within Australia


CAST: Roy Scheider, Robert Shaw, Richard Dreyfuss

DIRECTOR: Steven Spielberg

RUNNING TIME: 120 minutes

RRP: $ 39.95


DVD RELEASE: July 11, 2000

Consumer advice: The Shark Facts and Get Out of the Water trivia game, two of the items promised on the bonus materials menu, can only be played on a DVD ROM.


We gratefully acknowledge the complimentary use of a DVD player from Philips.


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