JAWS (Steven Spielberg). 124 minutes. Opens Friday (June 29) at the TIFF Bell Lightbox. See Times. Rating: NNNNN
Citizen Kane, Vertigo, The Godfather and Chinatown are all terrific, but none of them will raise your pulse above 75 beats per minute. Jaws does it in its opening scene, and keeps you on edge for another two hours with rich character development and expertly increasing tension. In my not so humble opinion, it’s the best American movie ever made.
Jaws is also the ideal summer blockbuster, having both invented the concept and perfected it. Frankly, it’s your duty as a human person to see it at least once on a big screen. And the Lightbox has that covered with a limited run of Universal’s splendid new digital restoration, overseen by director Steven Spielberg.
The rock-solid, razor-sharp image accurately renders Bill Butler’s slightly grainy cinematography, and gets the underwater footage back to its original brightness after decades of dull video transfers. The subtle surround remix hews closely to the original monaural audio, keeping most of the sound at the centre of the screen while expanding John Williams’s score into the back of the room.
I had the pleasure of introducing a 15-year-old print of Jaws in TIFF’s Essential Cinema series a couple of years ago, and it was very nice, but this is gorgeous. You owe it to yourself to check out the upgrade.