West Side Story Blu-ray review


            West Side Story was the first musical I saw onstage, and immediately following it became the first musical I saw on film. The dance turned into fight immediately made an impression, as did the fantastic songs which fill the musical score by Leonard Bernstein and lyrics by Stephen Soundheim. Winner of 10 Academy Awards, including Best Picture, this film version of the classic musical is one of those rare films which are as good as they are memorable.

            Taking Romeo and Juliet and updating it to 1950s New York City with music, West Side Story is about the forbidden love between two members of rival gangs. The Jets are a group of white thugs and The Sharks are the Puerto Rican gang members in the neighborhood, and both constantly fight each other. When one of the Jets (Richard Beymer) falls in love with one of the Sharks (Natalie Wood), they think that they can find a way to be together, but the tragedy of the rivalry takes over.

            This colorful winner of Best Cinematography, Best Art Direction and Best Costume Design is meant for high definition. Poorly made films show a lot more flaws in the high definition presentation, whereas a spectacularly made film only shows more of the hard work behind the excellence. This is the case with West Side Story, and this Blu-ray release is the ultimate package, with special features and size also taken into consideration.

            The Blu-ray package is already much smaller and compact, and this 3-disc set includes all of the special features previously released in the bulky DVD collector’s editions. Exclusively for the 50th Anniversary, this Blu-ray package also comes with a DVD version of the film. The Blu-ray disc with the feature film has integrated special features into the playback, along with the song-specific commentary by Stephen Soundheim. There is also an in-movie viewing mode for a feature about the dances in the film.

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