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    MPol

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    Join date : 2009-08-15

    More on West Side Story:

    Post  MPol on Fri Aug 28, 2009 5:56 pm

    I guess my alltime favorite film, West Side Story, isn't going over so well here. Oh, well, at least I have the opportunity here to write about it, even though nobody's interested. I'll live with that. That being said, I seriously wonder if this is a sign that West Side Story really is becoming obsolete, and that many people find it outdated, boring, too sanitized, too white-bread, and too racist, and made mostly for teenagers, immature or even mentally retarded adults (which I'm certainly not, nor am I a teenager), and hits too close to home for many people who're social workers, mental health councilors, people who work kids/families from low to moderate income backgrounds and who deal with gang violence and tensions between whites and racial/ethnic minorities, and law-enforcement people.

    From what I've read/heard, however, West Side Story is more honored in Europe than it is here in the United States! Amazing, isn't it? Also, many people consider West Side Story mainly a teen movie. As an adult who's seen it a number of times and was still a teenager when I first saw it, I couldn't disageee more. West Side Story, to me, is a movie that's geared towards people of almost all ages and all walks of life, and attracts people from all walks of life and almost all ages. More to the point, it's not "white bread", racist, for immature and/or retarded adults, or just a film made for suburban whites who wish to feel "multicultural" when they go to see it.

    While I can see why teens identify with the characters in West Side Story (I know I sort of did as a teenager), I see this great classic as an icon of far more exuberant, happier and more hopeful times, and as a time when movies were better photographed, had much more style and substance, and had far less exploding on the screen than many of today's movies do. Although West Side Story has its detractors (notable examples being the late movie critic Pauline Kael, and another movie critic, Bertinelli), it's mostly well-loved by movie critics and average, run of the mill moviegoers (myself included) who go to see this great classic.

    There are people who complain that West Side Story portrays negative stereotypes of Puerto Ricans and white workingclass kids; that they're all violence-prone, predisposed to gangs and gang activity, and that West Side Story glorifies gang violence. Again, I couldn't disagree more. First of all, I've known a good number of Spanish-speaking people who've enjoyed West Side Story very much. Secondly, there are a number of actors/actresses with Spanish-sounding names in the original movie of WSS. Thirdly, unlike many, if not most movies about gangs, which really do seem to glorify gangs and gang violence, West Side Story sends a whole different message; that gangs and gang violence are not to be glorified, and that gang violence is not the way to go.

    All of the above having been said, I believe that had West Side Story been made into a movie at a later date, the following would've resulted: A) The romantic relations between Tony and Maria, as well as between Bernardo and his girlfriend, Anita, as well as all the other gang members and their girlfriends, would've been much steamier and more explicitely sexual. (B) The fighting scenes would've been gorier, bloodier and more graphic. (C) The prejudice and hatred between the Jets and Sharks, as well as by Ofcr. Krupke and Lt. Schrank, would've been more explicit, with harsher language and rougher treatment of both gangs, including the possible tasering of miscreants. (D) The rumble would've undoubtedly involved the use of high-tech, high-power guns and/or assault rifles, as opposed to fisticuffs and switchblades. (D) The deaths of Riff, Bernardo and Tony would've been far bloodier.
    (E) The relations between Tony and Maria would've been more explicitly sexual. (F) The language in West Side Story would've been much "bluer", and much more gutteral. All of the above having been said, I believe that, had West Side Story come out at a later date, all the lightness as a musical would've been taken out of it. I also think that a remake of this golden oldie-but-great classic would be an utter disaster; the heart and soul would invariably be cut right out of it.

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