West Side Story (Version française)
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This brilliant (The New Republic) film sets the ageless story of Romeo and Juliet against a backdrop of gang warfare in 1950s New York. Directed by Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins and scripted by Ernest Lehman, the film combines Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim's unforgettable score ( Maria, America, 'somewhere, 'tonight ) with Robbins own exuberant choreography to achieve an exhilarating work of art (Saturday Review). A love affair is fated for tragedy amidst the vicious rivalry of two street gangsthe Jets and the Sharks. When Jets member Tony (RichardBeymer) falls for Maria (Natalie Wood), the sister of the Sharks leader, it's more than these two warring gangs can handle. And as mounting tensions rise, a battle to the death ensues, and innocent blood is shed in a heartbreaking finale.
The winner of 10 Academy Awards, this 1961 musical by choreographer Jerome Robbins and director Robert Wise (The Sound of Music) remains irresistible. Based on a smash Broadway play updating Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet to the 1950s era of juvenile delinquency, the film stars Natalie Wood and Richard Beymer as the star-crossed lovers from different neighborhoods--and ethnicities. The film's real selling points, however, are the highly-charged and inventive song-and-dance numbers, the passionate ballads, the moody sets, colorful support from Rita Moreno, and the sheer accomplishment of Hollywood talent and technology producing a film so stirring. Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim wrote the score. The DVD release has a widescreen presentation, Dolby sound, optional French subtitles. --Tom Keogh --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.See all Product Description
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According to the studio, West Side Story has undergone hundreds of hours of restoration for this Blu-ray release - a fact that shines through in the Blu-ray's sumptuous 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 2.20:1 encode. This new restoration excels with the film's combination of thick grain, waxy colours and ultra-deep blacks. Most telling of all is the gym dance (Chapter 7), a particularly troublesome sequence with heavily-saturated reds, which are rendered perfectly stable in this Blu-ray encode, with even Maria's virginal white dress unaffected by bleed. But there are fade issues with Saul Bass' credit sequence that the studio has prompted to release corrected discs in the future (no specific date yet). No doubt, this version is much better than the previous DVD edition, but somehow lacks the slam-dunk transfer it should be. (4.5/5)
The audio comes with DTS-HD MA 7.1 lossless mix. Unsurprisingly, it's the musical numbers get the best out of the enhanced frequency range and tonal precision offered by this lossless presentation. And while the track is clearly more expansive that the original sound design, it never feels artificial or forced. Use of the rears is actually pretty subtle and atmospheric rather than overtly aggressive. A fine example is the opening of the song Maria (Chapter 10), where the echoes carry into the rears before the rest of the music opens up across the entire soundfield. You can all sing along with most of the songs, like Maria, Tonight, America, I Feel Pretty and Somewhere. The total score (music, Leonard Bernstein and lyrics, Stephen Sondheim) also sounded perfect.
It should be noted that the original six-track mix of West Side Story was found early last year (it has been lost for decades). Good news, right? Well, not really.Read more ›
That aside, WEST SIDE STORY has it all. A love story with a timeless and universal appeal. A pulsating energy from beginning to end. A fantastic libretto and Leonard Bernstein's outstanding score, with performances to match. Brilliant cinematography that captures the flavour of NYC circa 1960 with its decaying neighbourhoods and smoldering juvenile gang tension. It really is a climax to such worthy precursors as "The Blackboard Jungle" of 1955.
WEST SIDE STORY also features some fine acting performances, although curiously not from the leads. The Supporting Oscars bestowed on Rita Moreno and George Chakiris were well deserved as it was they who supplied the Latino passion in spades. Natalie Wood looks gorgeous as usual but uses her eyes rather than her body to express her emotions, which is not very Puerto Rican at all. Richard Beymer is rather wooden and there is a lack of chemistry between him and Natalie. Not surprising, considering that Ms Wood was not pleased with his selection to play opposite her and subsequently gave him the cold shoulder throughout the production.
What really energates WEST SIDE STORY is the brilliant choreography of Jerome Robbins. From the long opening gang ballet scene to it's tragic but inevitable ending, this film never lags. Much more than a Musical, this masterpiece satisfies all the senses and it remains unsurpassed in its achievement.
DVD. In a word, the sound "stinks." Far more attention should have been paid to such a crucial element of this film. It's muddy and poorly mixed, especially during the musical numbers. Or perhaps it's just a sloppy digital transfer. Happily, the picture quality is excellent. So, why was so little attention paid to sound? It's a mystery.
Music: Leonard Bernstein Lyrics: Stephen Sondheim
And there is a movie for us. "West Side Story" is a classic on too many levels to describe here. Everything from the music to the choreography to the actors to...
One big plus is even if the story line is a classic they did not try to duplicate `Romeo & Juliet" with modern clothing. The movie still maintains the feel and action of the play.
Just on the chance that you missed this movie the first time around, it is the story of two people (Tony and Maria) from adverse backgrounds who fall in love. They must cope with their new feelings. And to complicit things they have trouble from their families and society. Will thy overcome these things or will fait and circumstance thwart their efforts and tragedy arise?
I could write a book on what makes this movie great but it is best that you watch and judge for yourself.
Riff (Russ Tamblyn) is the leader of the Jets, who are constantly having run-ins with Bernardo's (George Chakiris) Puerto Rican gang, the Sharks. Planes and fish don't mix, and things come to a head when the gangs are at a dance when Bernardo's sister Maria (Natalie Wood) meets the Jets' cofounder and Riff's best friend, Tony (Richard Beymer).
Tony is trying to clean up his act, backing away from all the street dancing, but he is immediately smitten with Maria. A jet and a shark cannot be lovers, and since no one in the film has read "Romeo and Juliet," no one knows what will happen...P>Eventually, the film does ape Shakespeare, partially. ...
The positives are what made the film a classic. The songs are excellent, using Stephen Sondheim's lyrics to carry the emotions of the characters. The dancing and ballet choreography are superb. It may seem silly to have street gangs dance-fighting, but the pure athleticism on the part of the dancers is fantastic. Rarely have dance numbers been so physical, and so grand.
On the downside, the main romance takes place waay too quickly. This is quicker than a whirlwind romance, this is a tornado wrapped in a cyclone being blown by a wind machine. The mere speed of the relationship (a day) takes any sympathy for Tony and Maria away from the viewer...P>Leonard Bernstein's music is good in the songs, but not as incidental background noise. He thinks he is scoring a bombastic Broadway song even in quiet moments...Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
Best musical ever. Great story (thanks Bill S), great music, wonderful performances.Published 4 months ago by Greg Curran
WEST SIDE STORY [1961/2011] [Deluxe Limited Edition DigiBook] [Blu-ray + DVD] [French Release] The Screen Achieves One of the Greatest Entertainments in the History of Motion... Read morePublished 15 months ago by Amazon Customer
Always was a great show...Fascinating to see how the cops dealt with cases then and now...still very racially biased!!! Some things still need to change in society..Published 16 months ago by Fiona Hoey
Leonard Bernstein's masterpiece of musical theatre has had a boost with blu-ray and 5.1 sound. The story is still very much appropriate to today's society. Read morePublished 16 months ago by Pierre Aubin