Saturday, June 9, 2007

West Side Story (1961)

Directed by Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins. Starring Nathalie Wood, Richard Beymer, and Rita Moreno.

At a more ironic point in my life, this was one of my favorite cinematic targets of ridicule. I mean, snapping, dancing gangs? Nathalie Wood as a Puerto Rican? How dopey! So it was with no small amount of shock that I turned on the television a few years ago and proceeded to watch it all the way through, feeling pretty stupid for having dismissed it in the past. What really struck me on this viewing, and subsequent viewings, was how brassy and exuberant it was, and how perfectly the tone of the music and the dance modified the tone of the story. This is one of the great dance films, and the camera, rather than remaining a passive observer as in classic Fred Astaire films, takes an active role in the choreography of the scenes in a way that is constantly surprising. So now that I'm older and not as padded in irony, I'm free to appreciate and love this film, silliness and all.

No comments: