Here's some info on the 5.1 mix and what's NOT on the 25th anniversary edition (it compares it to the LD, but I believe all that was restored for the new two-disc DVD set):
The soundfield maintains an environment that favors the forward speakers but it displays very good range. Dialogue stuck to the center channel, as did many effects, although quite a lot of ambient noise spread to the front side speakers (primarily) and to the rears; the surrounds largely fired only during underwater scenes or other segments that used a gently-enveloping environment. The score also spread nicely to the front speakers, and to the rears as well. The DTS track seems a bit more active than did the DD one; I got a much better sense of the effects and music that came from the sides and the rears on it, and the entire mix seemed more enveloping and natural.
Any fears that the remixers would go nuts and create inappropriately discrete audio were unfounded. The track remains fairly modest and makes only minor changes to bolster the environment. In many ways, it seems comparable to the 5.1 tracks found on the Star Trek: The Original Series DVDs, although the Jaws track easily tops those for dimensionality and quality; the mix of Jaws really opens up the surround spectrum, especially in the way it uses the music.
Oh, that music! In my longer review, I stated my affection for John Williams' work in the film, and I can't help but feel that some of my feelings stem from the positive sound quality of the score. Never before has this famous track packed quite such a wallop. Early on, I doubted the effectiveness of the remix; the music starts out isolated in the right speaker, and I initially found that disconcerting. However, once the score kicked in more fully and I could appreciate the clarity and depth of the music, I was completely happy with the remix. The high end seems a little thin and less than crystal-clear, and I also noted some mild tape hiss that appeared attached to the score, but the bass more than compensates for these minor deficits; the oomph resulting from Williams' famous music cues makes this track wonderfully and appropriately jarring. I read another review that stated the score has never sounded better "on video"; I'll go further, as I doubt it's ever sounded so good on any recorded medium.
Also strong are the effects. The audio controversy greatly involved these parts, as it was clear some of the effects would be re-recorded for the new mix. The purists cried foul, and I don't blame them, but when one considers the improvements that don't appear to have caused any compromises, I'll happily take the new recording. I only noticed a few effects that were clearly new; for example, gunshots are much too crisp to have come from the old track. However, I think the DVD displays relatively few re-recorded stems; I can't formally quantify my impression, but I believe most of the effects still come from the original. The whole thing sounds quite good, as the added bass kicks in nicely, and the entire package comes across well.
Jaws DVD Controversy # 2 revolved around its supplemental features. The LD boxed set I previously mentioned included some nice extras, the most significant of which was a roughly two-hour long documentary called The Making of Jaws. That piece appears here as well, but in truncated form; what once lasted 123 minutes now only amounts to 59 minutes.
I set out to do a thorough documentation of the differences but gave up after about 20 minutes due to the nature of the edits. Few major sections get the heave-ho; instead, we find lots of minor cuts throughout the entirety of the piece. Minutes may go, but sometimes we lose only a few seconds. Trying to note the omissions from the LD and then synch up again with the DVD was tremendously frustrating so I simply bailed on that goal.
I did note a few significant deletions, however. Some examples: Spielberg went into detail about the frustrations he experienced as he made the film and he discusses his near-breakdown; none of this can be found on the DVD. We learn more about Robert Shaw, and Dreyfuss talks of Shaw's somewhat-nasty attitude, but not on the DVD. An entire story about an (unfortunately unnamed) prospective director who apparently lost the gig because he excitedly talked about how he wanted to make a film about a "whale" disappears. Spielberg thought about adding a cameo by some characters from his only prior theatrical film, The Sugarland Express, but DVD viewers won't learn of this. Spielberg also speaks of a "little person" who he cast as a stunt double to make the live action sharks seem larger, but only on the LD. Some unexplored possibilities are discussed as Spielberg relates ideas from his version of the script, but the DVD doesn't even acknowledge them.
And so on. If you don't know it's not there, you probably won't miss it, but that doesn't mean I won't still bemoan the omissions and take strong issue with anyone who argues that the shorter version is better. One can feel that the differences are ultimately minor; we lose some anecdotes but the overall information stays close. While that's true, the clear impression of the filming provided by the LD documentary seems lost on the DVD. Jaws was a very difficult film to shoot, and the shorter documentary makes it seem less harrowing and tiring; the additional details in the longer program show us more clearly how worn down the cast and crew became, and ultimately it conveys more fully how tough a gig it was.
For additional details about what parts of the LD documentary fail to make the DVD, check out this article at DVD File ; it notes some areas that I didn't list. However, note that the article contains at least one major error, though it's not the only source to make this mistake.
Lots of people are convinced that the original LD documentary included a discussion of how Susan Backlinie's nudity in the opening scene caused problems because the footage showed a lot more skin than they'd planned. These anecdotes fall under the affectionate heading of "The Beaver Story".
DVD File and many others claim the LD featured this tale. It didn't. At no point during the two-hour documentary do we hear this story. So why do so many people believe it's there? Because a companion piece in the October 1995 issue of "Premiere" magazine provided this anecdote from Carl Gottlieb:
"I remember when the dailies came back. In all of the shots from the shark's point of view - it was, like, beaver shots for twenty minutes! Everyone was kind of embarrassed, because Steven had talked [Susan] into doing it nude by saying it was going to be night shots, fast cuts - and it was. But in dailies everyone was saying, 'Steven, you know...'"
So if anyone tells you the DVD omits this story from the LD, slap them silly! They're wrong, as no video appearance of the tale has been released.
The confusion obviously stems from the fact the interviews for "Premiere" are very similar to the ones filmed for the documentary. Actually, the article is maybe the single best source of stories about Jaws, though it and the two-hour program complement each other nicely. However, the text provides a bit more grit. I read the story before I saw the LD and found myself disappointed by and irritated at the omissions from text to video. For example, the article discusses more frankly how nasty Shaw could be; Dreyfuss skirts the issue slightly in the original LD documentary but is more open in the text.
The "Deleted Scenes" suffer their own deletions from the LD. A few seconds at the start of the Quint segment are cut; we no longer see him emerge from his truck. We also lose some shots of Quint's assistant which explain why he didn't make the boat trip, and there's another missing bit that shows the first identification of Chrissie's remains. Why are these gone? It's another mystery; all told, these only use maybe three more minutes of space, which shouldn't have been hard to find.