I was shocked by its sad relevancy to our current (racist) immigration strife and urban displacement, ironically set to uptempo, cheery music. Oddly, when discussing Vice with friends, no one mentions that brilliant connection (probably because the entire film has so many poignant and clever scenes).
RELEVANCY TO MARKETING COMMUNICATIONS?
Any film with a strong, informative message is projecting a form of marketing communication. This film struck me as an exceedingly clever example of mixing a heavy political (warning) message with satire, humor, asides, and clever motifs that disrupt, yet allow a comfortable engagement with the message. But it's the ironic choice of this music that drove the message home for me. Perhaps this explains why video is more popular than the written word in our culture today.
MUSIC BRINGS THE PASSION
Arguably, the best American musical, it’s impossible to rip apart West Side Story’s one element that defines it’s brilliance: Was it the book by Arthur Laurents, music by Leonard Bernstein, lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, or choreography by Jerome Robbins? Or the award-winning 1961 film adaptation by Director Robert Wise masterfully deepening our connection to each character while still capturing the width and depth of dance numbers?
My own experience is that playing the music brings a completely new insight to the layers upon layers of rhythms and orchestration, as I expect a dancer would feel embodying Robbin’s original choreography. Is there any choreography that better fit the storyline in any musical than this?
I’d love to read your own comments about this!
I’m a bit uneasy knowing that Spielberg is now casting for the remake. How could you top Robert Wise’s film? Or cast better performers than Chita Rivera, Rita Moreno, and George Chikiras?
BACKGROUND (condensed from Wikipedia)
West Side Story was originally East Side Story. When they first conceived the show in 1949, Robbins, Bernstein and Laurents set their story on the east side of Manhattan, and gave it the working title East Side Story. They planned to stage the conflict between rival Catholic and Jewish groups. The full and fascinating genesis of the production is on Wikipedia.
WHERE TO FIND IT LOCALLY
Local friends in the Bay Area will be happy to know that our fabulous Oakland Symphony conductor, Michael Morgan, (who worked with Bernstein) has chosen West Side Story as the last concert this season.
GO AHEAD: SING ALONG ON YOUTUBE!!!
My heart's devotion
Let it sink back
in the ocean
Always the hurricanes blowing
Always the population growing
And the money owing
And the sunlight streaming
And the natives steaming
I like the island Manhattan
Smoke on your pipe
And put that in!
I like to be in America
Okay by me in America
Everything free in America
For a small fee in America
Buying on credit is so nice
One look at us and they charge twice
I have my own washing machine
What will you have though to keep clean?
Skyscrapers bloom in America
Cadillacs zoom in America
Industry boom in America
Twelve in a room in America
Lots of new housing with more space
Lots of doors slamming in our face
I'll get a terrace apartment
Better get rid of your accent
Life can be bright in America
If you can fight in America
Life is all right in America
If you're all white in America
Here you are free and you have pride
Long as you stay on your own side
Free to be anything you choose
Free to wait tables and shine shoes
Everywhere grime in America
Organized crime in America
Terrible time in America
You forget I'm in America
I think I'll go back to San Juan
I know a boat you can get on (Bye Bye!)
Everyone there will give big cheer!
Everyone there will have moved here
top: Vice trailer freeze frame, silhouette Christian Bale as Dick Cheney; video images of America: youtube clips from Robert Wise film