Westside Story, 50 Films/50 Weeks

From John:

What a fun and tragic story. The vibrance of each moment in this film stands out against so many dull stories of youth. The backdrop of New York street life and the passion from each character collide in an explosion of emotion. It’s the kind of musical that leaves you wanting to dance and sing long after the, particularly interesting, credits roll.

We come upon two street gangs who are enemies to the core, but not quite sure why – just that the racial difference and the mutual sense of entitlement give them reason to be at odds. Through the film we see them showing off for each other but none really wants the responsibility of true gang war – it’s like Lord of the Flies meets Romeo and Juliet in 1950’s New York.

Color played a huge role in the film. In fact, the whole musical overture was a relief of New York in different radiating colors. The costumes told  a big part of the story, when we need to know who’s part of which gang we can easily tell from the overall costume. And of course the dancing – the need to express the emotion of the story beyond common movement – made a huge impact on the understanding of the love and hate throughout this story.

In the end this story was tragic but so good for my heart to wrestle with the realities of family, loyalty, love and our common humanity.

5 stars. Hands down.
And I plan to watch it again.
{Hopefully on Broadway some day, as per the recommendation of a sweet friend.}

So. Go. See it.

From Lee Anne:

So, so glad I finally watched this film.

Have I mentioned that since embarking on this fun little film journey, I have come to understand so, so many more quotes & references to classic films I’d have otherwise never known?
Well, I have.
And it’s awesome.

Much like the Sound of Music, I think Maria was my favourite character.
I think my favourite character is Tony.
He’s real. He’s passionate. He’s naive. He’s loyal. He’s human.
He hopes & dreams, he pursues love, he pursues truth, he pursues peace.
He also fails.
I think there’s a beautiful quote about that somewhere… Something along the lines of: to err is human… to forgive is divine.
Which brings me to what I love about this story: the humanity of it.
{Anything else will absolutely ruin it, on the off-chance you haven’t seen it & don’t know the story yet.}

I don’t think I can choose a favourite scene, though there are 2 which stand out most in my mind:
the dance {when Tony & Maria meet} and the fight {when the broken humanity is most evident}.

This movie was in-tense. So good.
And yet another musical that I loved.
I typically hate musicals {which I mentioned when we watched & reviewed the Sound of Music} but not this one.

It’s fantastic how either emotions or circumstances call for more than simple dialogue would give, so instead we’re given song & dance.
Song & dance to express a barrage of emotion, story & scene.

Absolutely terrific.
Also, devastating.
{I think I’ve used that word to describe every film we’ve watched so far. I wonder if there will be any happy films on this list?}
This terrifically devastating film challenges you, the audience member, to think about where you’re possibly a hypocrite. Where are you aiming hate or anger that ought to be replaced with peace and love?
Where are you failing to see the simple humanity of the people around you – even amidst your vast differences?

If you haven’t watched it, do so. Soon.
You’ll be glad you did.

If you have watched it, leave a comment & tell us what you thought of the film.
Who was your favourite character?
What was your favourite scene?

2 thoughts on “Westside Story, 50 Films/50 Weeks”

  1. Now you just have to see it on Broadway. We went Thanksgiving of 2009 and were blown away by the caliber of dancing from the men! My favorite scene is when the ladies dance to “America,” and I am always shaken and disturbed by Anita’s treatment in one of the final scenes…


    1. Oh, that would be delightful.
      If {when} we make it back to NYC, we must do that. 🙂
      I was definitely shaken by Anita’s treatment as well.


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