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"West Side Story" (50th)- {Blu-ray}- (Shannon)
Shannon Quinn
Studio: MGM
Release Date:
November 15, 2011
Special Features:

Featurettes, documentary, still images, trailers, DVD Rating: 4.5/5


From the stages of Broadway to the big screen “West Side Story” has been part of American musical and cinematic history since its inception in 1957. As a musical production it is outstanding. The fast-paced dance numbers and dramatic fights bring the rivalry between the Jets and Sharks to life before the audience’s very eyes. In 1961 the musical came to life on the big screen and has since been available for instantaneous viewing on VHS and DVD. With just a touch of a button I have been able to sing alongside of Maria (Natalie Wood) as she dances around the dress shop singing “I Feel Pretty”. And now with the release of the re-mastered Blu-Ray edition I am able to see this beloved film come to life with even more vibrant colors and rich sound.***

My favorite scene in the entire production is the “I Want to Be an American” number. The words, the melody, the dancing oh my! It makes you want to stand up, put on a long, flowing skirt and dance along with the Puerto Ricans as they put down their home country and rave about the advantages of their new nation: America. The image quality of the Blu-Ray is put to a test during this song and dance number and I must say that it added vibrancy and life to the scene. This scene and many others were given new life by this re-mastered Blu-Ray edition. It was nice to see a classic like “West Side Story” get a bit of a make-over and enter into the second decade of the 21st century in style. ***

“Mariaaaaaa!” The sound came through crystal clear as Tony rushed to Maria’s window and confessed his love for her. As I watched their love story unfold I felt surrounded by their voices and the agony of their situation. The dance numbers and musical sequences filled my living room with some of my all-time favorite melodies. The sound quality that I expected from a Blu-Ray kept up with my expectations and made my viewing experience even more enjoyable.

Image and Sound -

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video resolution: 1080p Aspect ratio: 2.19:1 Original aspect ratio: 2.20:1

Overall, I was pleased with this Blu-Ray release of one of my favorite musical films of all time. Improvements can always be made, but the overall integrity of the movie was enhanced by its re-mastering.

Special Features:

Disc One Pow! The Dances of West Side Story – Experts discuss several of the film’s big dance sequences. The featurettes can be watched along with the feature or on their own in the “Extras” section.***

Song-Specific Commentary by Stephen Sondheim – Sondheim gives his thoughts on 14 of the film’s musical sequences. His comments are interesting and give some good insight into the creation of many of the most iconic songs in the production.***

Music Machine – The feature allows you to cut out all of the talk and get straight to the music. It’s a great way to get “I Feel Pretty” stuck in your head the rest of the day.***

Disc Two A Place for Us: West Side Story's Legacy – Takes a look at the unique aspects of “West Side Story” and discusses the film’s longstanding influence. Includes interviews with theater and dance professionals, critics, and past cast members.***

West Side Memories – A 2003 documentary giving the audience insight into the makings of the film and much more.***

Storyboard to Film Comparison Montage - Still images set to “West Side Story” soundtrack.*** Trailers***

Disc Three ; DVD

Final Words:

Overall, I was pleased with this Blu-Ray release of one of my favorite musical films of all time. Improvements can always be made, but the overall integrity of the movie was enhanced by its re-mastering. Maria was still Maria, Tony was still Tony, and the Jets and the Sharks still dance-fought every chance they got, but my overall “West Side Story” experience was changed for the better watching it on Blu-Ray. After 150+ minutes I walked away satisfied, singing and an expert on all things “West Side Story”.


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