West Side Story came out in 1961 as a melodramatic musical that took place in New York. It takes the same theme as Shakespeare's, Romeo and Juliet, in that it is about two lovers whose relationship is not accepted by others because of conflicting backgrounds.
The artistic intensions of this film are implicitly stated everywhere throughout the film. All of the dancing, singing, acting and pretend fighting was done thoroughly and very well, although the miking and mixing during the pretend fighting did not seem realistic. Specific actors, dancers, and singers were trained and taught how to perform in order to get the message across to the audience that this West Side Story is not just a film, but a theatrical, musical, choreographed, work of art. Specific messages are portrayed in different art forms such as the way the Puerto Rican women dressed compared to the American women. The Puerto Ricans had fluffier, more brightly colored dresses than did the Americans and the Puerto Rican women made their own clothes. I lived in Mexico last summer and in my opinion, their authentic style of clothing still has those same characteristics. The exception was Maria, who was also not allowed to wear a brightly colored dress with a low cut neck because she was too young, and although she claimed to be an American girl now which would make her eligible for being more free and independent, or shall we say sexy, she still had to wear a conservatively cut white dress. A characterization was pointed out about American women being able do more and be less conservative than Puerto Rican women.
The musical selections and songs that were sung told a story and narrated the almost the entire film, as is expected in...
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...remember hearing Bernardo telling Maria that when she is an old lady with five children then she could boss him around. That statement in itself also holds true to the stereotype these people usually have a lot of children and this was brought up again in the song, America, when Anita asks how she will get all of her cousins into a car.
I would say the target audience for this film would be people who enjoy musicals, no matter their age. The time lag would only have much of an effect for younger generations who do not remember the 1960's and the discrimination and the political actions that were being taken during that time period. The film is still a classic I would say because of all of the wonderful costumes, dancing, singing, acting, and clever story telling through songs. I can definitely see why this film was a popular success then as it still is today.
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