A page out of the West Side Story

A page out of the West Side Story

Mary J Appleton

Stephen Spielberg’s recreation of Stephen Sondheim’s Romeo and Juliet spin-off West Side Story was beautifully captivating and heart-wrenching. Spielberg took the audience from their modern 21st century lives and transported them back to the 1950’s in the middle of an epic gang rivalry. With the help of charming musicals and delightful images this motion picture covers topics of racism, immigration, gang life and star-crossed lovers.

A fascinating part of the musical is the chemistry between and within the gangs. The Jets and the Sharks can not seem to stay away from each other. They are always at each other’s throats, literally. The police are constantly getting involved to try and put an end to these violent men. Even though the gangs have some much angst against each other, they have built a family within the gangs. The Jets and Sharks know that they can depend on the men in their gang when the going gets rough. Many of the men find comfort in that brotherhood and that becomes their main reason for staying with the gang. They feel they have nowhere else to turn to. 

A striking part of the story is the relationship between the love interests. The plot follows Romeo and Juliet in the sense that star crossed lovers  meet one night and fall instantly in love. Maria, Shark leader Bernardo’s kid sister, and “retired” Jet  Tony meet one night at a dance and fall madly in love. Obviously because of their involvement with opposite gangs they must keep their meetings secret. Juliet’s balcony where she calls out “where art thou Romeo” becomes Maria’s apartment fire escape out her window where Tony and Maria sing lovely duets. They are so captivated by their love that they drive themselves and their friends and family insane. 

This story is a classic and everyone can agree that it is timeless. The songs, dancing, plot line, will always be touching and fascinating. It is still in theaters and will definitely be able to stream later so when given the chance everyone should look at the classics and this new adaptation.