The Namesake and West Side Story Essay

The Namesake and West Side Story Essay

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Jerome Robbins and Robert Wise’s West Side Story (USA, 1961), a classic American film, and Mira Nair’s The Namesake (USA, 2006), a more contemporary film, both tell the story of young adults seeking out the American Dream. In both West Side Story and The Namesake, we see young people taking chances at love, while living out their lives and the American Dream. We experience the challenges that come with interracial relationships and the cultural influences that sadly put an end to the relationships. Both movies capture the lives of two different ethnic groups, Puerto Ricans and Bengalis, shining a light on issues of diversity such as race, interracial relationships, and cultural assimilation. While telling the stories of American immigrants, West Side Story and The Namesake touch upon the most pressing issues affecting immigrant groups at two very different times in American history. From the highflying musical numbers of West Side Story to the heartfelt moments in The Namesake, each film has a unique way of canvasing the issues of diversity immigrants face on their quest for the American Dream.
In West Side Story, as the camera swings grandly down out of the sky, the audience discovers the Jets, a gang of tough kids, twitching restlessly in a playground park. As the camera continues to descend it captures bodies moving gracefully and fiercely in frequent spontaneous bursts of dance. As the strong blend of drama, dance, and music unfolds, the story of the Sharks and the Jets and their endless fighting begins to unfold as West Side Story. The film tells the story of two of New York City’s rival gangs, the Sharks (a Puerto Rican gang) and the Jets (a white European Immigrant gang), and their endless feuding. Both gangs are continu...

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