I Watched… (#10)

7 Apr

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West Side Story (1961)

The romantic tale of Romeo and Juliet is boxed up and shipped to the west side of New York City in this classic musical which scooped up a whopping 10 Oscars back in the 1960s.

The iconic opening, filled with finger-clicking goodness, and the inventive graffiti-styled credits sit far apart in this rather long and bloated musical that is a variation on the Shakespearean tale of Romeo and Juliet. Maria (Natalie Wood) and Tony (Richard Beymer) are madly in love but alas, these two youngsters are tied to rival gangs who bitterly hate each other.

It certainly is too long but the adapted story is still engaging; couple that with the catchy songs and some fantastic choreography throughout and it is no wonder why the film was so well received upon its release. There are some interesting visual, and sometimes surreal, techniques used too which work well and the theatre-based sets link the film back to its Broadway roots.

The racial and social malaise undertones provide a peek back behind the curtain of history and help provide the film with some substance. Most importantly in a musical, there are reasons behind every song and dance; we know why these discontented youths dance and sing and they don’t do it to just keep fit or provide light entertainment for themselves and fellow New Yorkers.

8/10

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