It's so hard to believe that 40 years ago last Saturday, we saw JAWS at the drive-in during its opening weekend in 1975. To remember it all again, we just watched the digitally remastered JAWS on Blu-Ray and it looks excellent, with better sound than ever featuring DTS 7.1 completely remixed by archivists from the original tracks.
By now, we all know the story, but I had forgotten just how brilliantly the film is constructed.
We open with the now famous two note strains of cello by John Williams, ramping up to a full menacing pitch through the underwater credits.
Then we witness the first attack on Chrissy, meet Chief Brody (Roy Scheider) and his family and watch as Brody battles the single-minded mayor (Murray Hamilton) to close the beaches.
Enter shark expert Matt Hooper (Richard Dreyfuss) and Shark Bounty Hunter Quint (the excellent Robert Shaw) and you have a movie firing on all cylinders. Young director Steven Spielberg shows all the style that would become his trademarks, deftly not allowing us to see a full view of our shark until over an hour into the film.
Williams music is fantastic throughout and Bill Butler's photography is excellent, really popping in this remastered version of the print.
So many classic moments here, but my favorites are still the nighttime discovery of Ben Gardner's boat by Brody and Hooper, JAWS in the estuary on July 4th, the first barrel encounter at sea ("We're going to need a bigger boat.") and the classic final 15 minutes.
Robert Shaw famously wrote his haunting, well told story of The Indianapolis and his interaction with Scheider and Dreyfuss is stellar.
The mechanical shark rarely worked, but it's masterful how Spielberg uses shots of it sparingly, making it more powerful when you do finally see the beast.
In today's age of CGI and everything being on screen every moment with every nut and bolt of every Transformer explosion in our face (often boring) it's surprising how effective Spielberg's approach is throughout.
JAWS still holds up as 124 great movie minutes, one of the best thrillers in movie history and a perfect A+.
One of my Top 25 films of all time.
Followed by three sequels of dramatically diminishing returns.