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Although I think I've seen just about every musical there is from the
forties to the seventies, I'd never seen West Side Story until last
night. An amazing omission on my part, as having seen it, I just think
it's simply wonderful.
I bought the DVD "on spec" in a CD/DVD exchange store in Sydney for
$10. I've had it in my hand a couple of times before but have always
put it back on the shelf. This time I went through with the purchase
and am now wondering what could have come over me, not buying it
Those here who have said you really need to watch it on the Big Screen
are absolutely right. In my case I watched it using a video projector
throwing the image, big, bright and beautiful, onto a 12 foot screen.
The photography used the wide screen format uncompromisingly. There was
no caution here to frame the action for possible television cropping,
or even much consideration given to a 2.35:1 "Cinemascope"
presentation. Super Panavision's aspect ratio is not as wide as
Cinemascope's 2.35:1, and every square inch of screen space was used
for one or another important element of composition.
Bernstein's music is a tour de force. Having watched On The Town only a
few days back, it was interesting to contrast the two musicals. On The
town is, of course, 15 years or so older than West side Story, but a
comparison between the two scores is chalk and cheese. You could tell
that Bernstein was holding himself back in On The Town. It wasn't his
project. The numbers were almost self-censored. But West side Story was
his baby, and it shows.
The sheer brilliance of the music, the enchanting daring of it, its
raucous atonality coupled with sweetness of melody are awesomely
impressive, as show-stopper after show-stopper is thrown onto the
screen to continually up the amazement quotient, time after time.
I played West Side Story loud, very loud. The surround sound knocked my
socks off from the opening aerial ambiance of Manhattan streets to the
orchestrations themselves. I remember Bernstein in the documentary
about the concert version of West Side Story saying, aside to the
camera, after "Cool, Boy" was recorded, "You know, this is pretty
good..." One of the great understatements, even if coming from the
See this film. Play it loud. Watch it on a big screen if you can. If
you do you may, like I did, sit there thrilled, swinging your head from
one side of the Super Panavision screen to the other, trying to take in
the overwhelming avalanche coming at your eyes, your ears and your
heart. It was an almost perfect transfer from film to DVD: color,
It's been a long while since I've watched a film with a silly grin on
my face right through, sometimes gasping at the sheer knock-out
brilliance of what film-making can be at its best. West Side Story was
one of those times.
Tags for West Side Story Full Movie
, Richard Beymer
, Rita Moreno
, Russ Tamblyn
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