With MHS’s 60th anniversary celebrated this year and the remake of “West Side Story ” coming out in December, this movie adaptation of “Romeo and Juliet,” which originally hit theaters in 1961, still maintains its reputation as a classic film that must be watched, and for those in the MHS community, the time to watch it is now.
Set in New York City, 1957, two rival gangs– the Jets and the Sharks– are constantly knocking heads. While at a dance, Jets-affiliated Tony (Richard Beymer) and Sharks-affiliated Maria (Natalie Wood) meet and instantly fall in love. The two are determined to stay together and run away, despite their families wanting otherwise. When Maria sends Tony to stop a rumble between the rival gangs, will the fighting finally come to an end, so the two can be together?
If viewers know the plot of “Romeo & Juliet,” they know how this ends (with some differences), but even with that knowledge, the movie is captivating. I don’t entirely care for musicals to begin with; upon that admission, though, this is one I enjoy time and time again.
Composer Leonard Bernstein has crafted iconic music that can be enjoyed by everyone, from upbeat, faster tunes like “America” to slower, calming ballads like “Somewhere” to the romantic duet “Tonight.” Others would agree with how great the music is as “West Side Story” won an Academy Award for Best Music, Scoring of a Musical Picture in 1962.
The soundtrack, paired with the notable acting, truly moves the viewer. Wood and Beymer convey love at first sight in an outstanding way, and the rest of the cast portrays the hatred between the gangs equally well as the tension radiates off the screen.
A good family film, “West Side Story” is rated TV-PG with some intense scenes. While weapons are shown, any fighting done is portrayed through dance.
All-in-all, I’d give this movie 5 stars. Maybe it’s just the musician in me, but Bernstein’s soundtrack really draws me in, and I can’t stop watching. I’d highly recommend this movie to those who enjoy outstanding music paired with tragic love stories.