There have been a lot of stories and movies that were inspired by William Shakespeare’s classic love story, Romeo and Juliet. But probably none is more known and more famous than West Side Story. It takes the same basic story, two young lovers from opposing gangs caught in the middle of a longtime feud, but gives it a modern (for its time, anyway) spin and adds plenty of memorable musical numbers. And now the movie is available on blu-ray, giving both old fans and new ones to enjoy it in glorious HD.
For those not familiar with the plot (and have probably been living under a rock for the last few decades), here’s the basic rundown. On the streets of Manhattan, two gangs – the white American Jets and the Puerto Rican Sharks – are beginning to feud as tensions rise between them. When the two attend a local dance (its neutral territory), romance blooms between Tony (Richard Beymer), one of the Jets’ co-founders, and Maria (Natalie Wood), the sister of Sharks leader Bernardo (George Chakiris). Of course, neither of the respective gangs are happy about this. As Tony and Maria try to pursue and build their love, the two gangs prepare for a rumble, a one-on-one fight between chosen representatives, to settle things once and for all. However, deaths on both sides could threaten to destroy Tony and Maria’s love before it can truly begin.
West Side Story is considered both a classic and one of the greatest films of all time. And it’s easy to see why. Fans and critics have praised it for years, the soundtrack album sold more copies than any other soundtrack before it (even more than the original cast album from the stage musical the movie is based on), and it won ten Academy Awards, including Best Picture, including a special award for co-director Jerome Robbins. Over the years, the story has been referenced and paid homage to (or parodied, but in a good way) in various forms of pop culture, showing the impact the movie has had since its initial release.
And now the movie is available on blu-ray. This could be one of those movies that, even if you’ve already bought it on DVD, you’ll want to buy it again. The reasons being that you’re both a big fan of the movie and have to own any and every home video release of it, or simply just for the cinematic experience and you just want to upgrade. Blu-ray discs have been praised for their enhanced, high-definition picture and sound, and a movie like West Side Story definitely benefits from it, especially if you have a multi-speaker home theater system. Yeah, blu-ray players have the benefit of being able to play and upconvert DVDs, but the blu-ray can truly give that original theatrical experience for the movie.
I know some folks have complained at some vq probs at the very beginning. However it’s over and done with quite quickly. The rest of this flick shows true artistic form on how they can transform a 50 year old movie and turn it into a visual masterpiece once more decades later from a technical stand point. West Side Story’s 1080p transfer is sure to ultimately please you. Great representation to staying true to the original color hues throughout the transfer.
7.1 DTS HD Sound. I repeat, 7.1 DTS HD sound! You will never get better sound for West Side Story then this right here! Absolutely wonderful track that is spread with love around your center, rear, and front speakers. (and sides 😉 ) Who would have thought 50 years later, it would sound like this! MGM and Fox have out done themselves with this one. Hats off to the audio techs as I bet they had to work that mix and master like none other.
West Side Story has a healthy amount of lengthy extras housed on this blu-ray edition with a few over 1 hour run times. The special feature segments are listed below.
Pow! The Dances of West Side Story
Song Specific Commentary by Stephen Sondheim
Music Machine – An hour worth of a visul jukebox.
A Place for Us: West Side Story’s Legacy
West Side Memories
Storyboard to Film Comparison Montage
If you’ve never seen or owned West Side Story, head out and give the blu-ray a try. If you’re a fan and want to add to your collection, whether to upgrade or just for the heck of it, definitely go and buy it. With all the benefits of blu-ray, you probably won’t be sorry. Sure there is some hoopla being spread about some vq issues, but that is really over and done with very quick. The video quality and audio quality otherwise are top notch and the amount of lengthy extras make for one fine edition. Especially if you enjoy collectible packaging as Target has an exclusive digibook version. In addition the collectors set comes with nice postcards a cd and such.