Approx advert and trailer run time: 25 mins
Film run time: 2h 25min
Before the arrival of its Spielberg-directed successor next year, revisit the first, Oscar-winning film of the game-changing 60s musical.
Shifting the timeless tragedy of Romeo and Juliet to the racially tense neighbourhoods of Manhattan, the story follows star-crossed lovers Tony (Richard Beymer), valued member of the white American Jet gang, and Maria (Natalie Wood), connected by blood to the Puerto-Rican Shark gang. Both long to escape their violent, suffocating surroundings together, but this is made harder by the increasingly vicious power-struggles between their families, who in turn face the aggression of the police.
Already a huge success on Broadway, the film shows how the musical electrified its form in every department: Arthur Laurents and Stephen Sondheim combine a classic love story with a witty, still-modern treatment of social issues, animated by Leonard Bernstein’s thrillingly inventive score. Most amazingly, Jerome Robbins transferred his own choreography to the actual streets of New York, creating a style that seamlessly fused raw urban aggression with artful balletic precision. The result is a film musical unlike any other, charged with palpable danger and energy offset by a tender and melodious romance.
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