'Jaws' film restoration zaps scratches, adds color
By Bryan Alexander, USA TODAY
Film, like ocean water, can get pretty murky over time.
So 1975's Academy Award-winning Jaws was due for a full restoration, part of Universal Studio's 100th anniversary celebration. Other classic films selected for restoration include 1973's The Sting, 1962's To Kill a Mockingbird and 1930's All Quiet on the Western Front.
"It really gave us a chance to restore the film to its pristine state," says Mike Daruty, Universal's senior vice president of technical operations. He worked with director Steven Spielberg on the five-month Jaws restoration, and "it looks fantastic."
Spielberg himself admits in a short film about the restoration that the original negative for the film was "pretty crummy" because of age and use. The restoration team went through the negative frame-by-frame to remove significant scratches and fix color problems. They would spend as long as four hours on problematic frames.
The director was "extremely pleased," says Daruty. "His comment was that it looked even better than it did during its release."
The restored film was first played before an outdoor audience at the Tribeca Film Festival in April and will be officially unveiled at an outdoor screening for JawsFest 2012 on Saturday on Martha's Vineyard. (It will be released on Blu-ray and DVD on Aug. 14.)
Seeing a killer shark restored on-screen might be a daunting task even for the movie's most supreme fans.
"I hope people have their hands over their eyes for only a portion of the film," says JawsFest organizer Susan Sigel Goldsmith. "It looks to be even scarier now. We can't wait."