ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Film Review: West Side Story

Updated on March 7, 2016
Film Frenzy profile image

Written by: Jason Wheeler, Film Frenzy Senior Writer & Editor.

Background

In 1961, Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins released West Side Story, an adaptation of the 1957 Broadway musical of the same name, which was inspired by Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. Starring Natalie Wood, Richard Beymer, Russ Tamblyn, Rita Moreno, George Chakiris, Simon Oakland, Ned Glass, William Bramley, John Astin, and Penny Santon, the film grossed $43.7 million at the box office. Nominated for 11 Academy Awards, it won the awards for Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Art Direction, Best Cinematography (Color), Best Costume Design (Color), Best Director, Best Film Editing, Best Original Score and Best Sound, making it the musical film with the most Academy wins. Robbins also won an award for Brilliant Achievements in the Art of Choreography on Film.

Synopsis

Two rival gangs, the Jets and Sharks, are fighting over territory on Manhattan’s West Side. However, on the night the gangs decide to have their final battle, Jets member Tony falls in love with Maria, the younger sister of the Sharks’ leader Bernardo.

Review

West Side Story is one of those film that made a near perfect transition from stage to screen, continuing to make it so that neither gang is in the right, interestingly making it so that neither side is sympathetic at all. This can really be seen when they are in their War Council negotiating terms of the rumble and neither side wanting the last say, continue to up the stakes when it comes to the weapons that are allowed. It’s interesting to think about how far they would have gone if Tony hadn’t intervened. The Jets also show their ugliness in how they treat Anita when she comes in to give them Maria’s message. They nearly rape her and would have succeeded had Doc not shown up. But the Sharks aren’t blameless either as they just want to get revenge for all the wrongs done to them. In fact, the whole of “Tonight” and its reprise show that the hatred put forward by each gang is identical and the only thing that makes them different is where they come from. It really shows how hate begets hate.

And alongside the gangs are the adults, who are just completely useless, or just as hateful. For one there’s Glad Hand, who’s not in the film for very long. However, at the dance, he’s idealistic that both sides can put away their differences and get along. But no one listens. Then there’s Schrank, who’s a blatant racist towards both sides, cant stand any of the kids and antagonizes them just to get a rise out of them. What's more is that he really only wants them to stop fighting so he doesn't get demoted and the only thing he’s really good for is temporarily bringing some agreement between the groups because they both hate him, which is another example of hate begetting hate. His right hand man Officer Krupke seems to be a useless lump only good for being a bit of muscle as well. But the most useless is Doc, who just wants the kids to stop fighting, but doesn’t know how to do it other than talking to them. He also seems to be the wisest character in the story, trying to dissuade Tony from his affection for Maria and trying to broker peace between the gangs. But the reason he’s useless isn’t his own fault; it’s because both sides are so blinded by their hate for the other that they won’t listen to anyone.

To complement the story are some very well done technical aspects, such as this being the film that popularized using the dancing to further the story. This can be seen in many of the musical numbers, when they’re all dancing to their destination rather than in one spot and then leaving after. And its win for Best Cinematography was well deserved, from the introduction to the Jets leaning on that fence to the road that Tony walks down while he sings “Maria” and everything in between.

5 stars for West Side Story

the postings on this site are my own and don't necessarily represent WNI's positions, strategies or opinion

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)