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miki

Why West Side Story MUST be viewed on a great big wide movie theatre screen:

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West Side Story, which has been my all time favorite film, hands down, since having seen it for the very first time, at around Christmastime of 1968, during a big national re-release of this film, when I was a high school Senior, at a now-defunct cinema north of where my siblings & I grew up.  Little did I, my friends or family know that my very first viewing of the film West Side Story would begin a love affair with this great classic film that would last all the way through the present!  

 

Not only did I fall in love with the film West Side Story instantly, but, since I was still a teenager in high school when I first saw this movie, I identified with the Jets, the Sharks, and their girls, regarding kids being kids and so on, but when I got a little older and began seeing it in the (mostly now-defunct) independent repertory movie theatres in and around Boston, I began to appreciate not only the very story, the music, the dancing, and the overall cast, but I began to appreciate West Side Story for the grand work of art that it really and truly is.  

 

In addition to the music, the dancing, the richly-colored costumes and cinematography and cinematographical technique, and the story behind this great film, I have noticed that one of the very strengths of the film version of West Side Story is that when it was transferred from stage to screen, it was kept as a larger-than-life-sized piece of theatre.  Since parts of WSS were filmed in the streets of NYC's East and West Side, as well as streets of downtown Los Angeles, and other parts of it were filmed on a huge sound-stage, this film retained much of its theatrical quality even after being transferred to the screen.

 

Sure, seeing the movie West Side Story on TV or an elaborate  home-theatre system is enjoyable, but, regardless of how wonderful people regard elaborate, expensive home-theatre systems, absolutely nothing beats seeing  West Side Story on a great big, wide screen, in a real movie theatre, with the lights down low, and sharing the whole experience with a bunch of other people, whether one knows them or not.  Movie theatres also serve as temporary communities, where people of almost all ages, and all walks of life, can get together to share wonderful experiences like this.  

 

From the warring Jets and Sharks to the romancing Tony and Maria to the bitter, bigoted and cynical Lt. Schrank and his partner, the quieter, but equally cynical Ofcr Krupke, and Doc, the Candy Store owner, who wishes to help steer the kids in a better direction, the various characters in West Side Story seem to move much more fluidly and freely, in a much wider, more open space.  The Jets, the Sharks and their girls all seem much more exuberant, as well.  The scenery, too, is more expansive, and one can see all of everything.  A new intensity is brought to an already brilliant Leonard Bernstein musical score, and the overall settings that are uncannily designed (and created) to look like rough and rundown areas of a big city.  All told, the film  West Side Story seems to take on a magical, almost 3-dimensional quality to it when viewed as it's truly meant to be viewed;  on a great big, wide movie theatre screen!

 

The theatrical quality and the richly colored costumes and cinematography, as well as the movements of the characters in the film West Side Story all seem to come much more fully alive.  Even Richard Beymer's Tony (whom I've always considered somewhat lackluster), seems to become more vital and alive on a great big, wide movie theatre screen.   The dancing in West Side Story, ever beautifully amazing to begin with, seems even more vital, exuberant and alive on a great big, wide movie theatre screen, also.  

 

The various emotions, from exuberance, to arrogant insolence and cockiness, to humor (West Side Story definitely does have parts that make me smile and even laugh out loud. as well as put me on the edge of my seat, and even to mist up a bit.) to toughness, to the Rumble, from death to possible intergroup reconciliation,  also seem very much emphasized when West Side Story is shown on a big, wide movie theatre screen.  

 

Since West Side Story is a film that goes from fairly light and exuberant to dark and heavy, and back to a somewhat lighter emotion (a hint of intergroup reconciliation, when several surviving Jets and Sharks come together to carry Tony's body off after he's been shot and killed by Chino, in retaliation for Tony's having stabbed Bernardo, who'd been stabbed by Tony in retaliation for Bernardo's having stabbed his long-time buddy, Riff, this is yet another reason why West Side Story must be viewed on a great big wide screen, in a real movie theatre, with the lights down low to really reap the benefits of seeing this film as the true work of art that it really is.  

 

 

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Some films are only meant to be shown on a big wide movie theater screen.

 

"West Side Story" is one of these films.

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Good luck finding a screen that accommodates a true Super Panavision 70 presentation.

I saw West Side Story first run at a drive-in theater.

 

It was perfect for Panavision 70 - - But I think you are going to have a hard time finding a drive- in still showing movies in this day and age though.

 

The drive-in I went to is now a Wal-Mart.

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Good luck finding a screen that accommodates a true Super Panavision 70 presentation.

 

Some of the AMC theatres could accommodate a true Super Panavision 70 presentation, I'm sure.

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Some of the AMC theatres could accommodate a true Super Panavision 70 presentation, I'm sure.

I know of none.  When I saw WSS during its original  Super Panavision 70 roadshow release, it was on a screen, approximately 27 feet high by 58 feet wide.

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I know of none.  When I saw WSS during its original  Super Panavision 70 roadshow release, it was on a screen, approximately 27 feet high by 58 feet wide.

 

Actually, however, johnm001, there's an AMC Theatre in downtown Boston, MA that has been known to accommodate classic films such as West Side Story, on occasion.  There are also some newer AMC Theatres that're even bigger than the ones in the 20-cineplex AMC Theatres.  

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I wish the studios would re-release some of their classic films  in IMAX

Now.....that would be cool!!

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This:

Some films are only meant to be shown on a big wide movie theater screen.

 

"West Side Story" is one of these films.

 

is very true, rayon!    Moreover, it's especially true of West Side Story, due to the true-blue work of art that it really is, and because it was kept as a larger-than-lifesized piece of theatre when it was originally transferred from stage to screen.

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I saw West Side Story first run at a drive-in theater.

 

It was perfect for Panavision 70 - - But I think you are going to have a hard time finding a drive- in still showing movies in this day and age though.

 

The drive-in I went to is now a Wal-Mart.

That's too bad that the drive-in theatre that you saw the film West Side Story at is now a Wal*Mart. Most all of the drive-in theatres here in the United States have gone dark, and they'll probably never revive.  I, myself, would've loved to see the film West Side Story at a drive-in theatre.  I bet it was fantastic!!  

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Good luck finding a screen that accommodates a true Super Panavision 70 presentation.

 

Actually, John,  West Side Story will be coming to the Somerville Theatre, in a couple of weeks, as part of a special  week-long 70mm Classic film presentation series.  I'm looking forward to it!

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