West Side Story (Blu-ray Review)

If only we could solve all our problems through interpretive dance. In this modern day adaption of Shakespeare’s classic tale Romeo & Juliet, which was adapted from Ernest Lehman’s Broadway production, it’s a singing and dancing group of gangs. There are two gangs pitted against each other in this town, first being the Jets, a group of hard-banging American-teens, and the Sharks, a group of Puerto Rican immigrants. For the time it took place/was filmed in, West Side Story looks, and sounds fantastic, and that was BEFORE the Blu-ray conversion. And I thought my trashy old DVD copy sounded great… West Side Story is a massive achievement in American cinema, so much so that it won ten Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director. When you’re a Jet, you’re a Jet all the way!  



Before viewing the film, I sat down and watched Oliver Stone’s controversial hyper-violent ride that is Natural Born Killers. Seems pretty odd right? Well, there is a reason for all of this nonsense. Looking at a film so modern and visually stunning that is Natural Born Killers, then looking at a classic, unparalleled impressive film such as West Side Story, you can’t help but compare the two. In fact, I found quite a bit of similarities; much of the way characters converse, in a sort of old-fashioned way, caught my eye. I felt I had to include this comparison to Natural Born Killers, as it has been on my mind non-stop since I watched it. The biggest difference is that the fight scenes in Natural Born Killers are not nearly as beautiful as the ones in West Side Story.

Alright, back to the phenomenon that is West Side Story. This is a film that set the bar for all future broadway-based musical movies. While Rent is my preferal over this, I can’t imagine myself disliking this one. The music is unbelievably impressive, and listening to that five minute overture is some of the most soothing tones I’ve heard in broadway history. Personally, my favorite number is Officer Krupke, which I recently heard Larry David singing in a classic episode of the HBO program Curb Your Enthusiasm. All in all, the music is absolutely breathtaking, and the fantastic restoration improved it even more, but more on that later.

What is even more admirable is the impeccably well-managed choreography. No stunts needed; all of these actors had been highly trained prior to the filming, and it paid off quite well. Beautiful cinematography goes hand in hand with fantastic actors, most notably Natalie Wood (who has been gaining a lot of speculation lately as her death case has been re-opened) and Richard Beymer, who have phenomenal chemistry together, and are what make this film so believable.

Gee, Officer Krupke,
We’re down on our knees,
‘Cause no one wants a fellow with a social disease.
Gee, Officer Krupke,
What are we to do?
Gee, Officer Krupke,
Krup you!


The Blu-ray gods surely got together and made a wish, because this Blu-ray quality sure knows how to “keep it cool, real cool.” West Side Story’s Widescreen 1080p (2.20:1) conversion is exceptional, especially considering the fact that this was filmed in 1961. The film is extremely colorful, with a variety of steady grain levels and super good contrast throughout. The only issue I found was it was a bit unwatchable in some of the dark parts, so I’d recommend closing the shades for the ultimate viewing experience. Nothing lackluster here!


Man, the Jets have never sounded better. West Side Story’s impressive 7.1 DTS-HD MA is nothing short of a masterpiece. As an avid fan of the music, and the fact that I missed the restoration in theaters, this was my chance to hear the real restoration to 2011 sound. And it sounds great. Smooth tones highlight the wonderful music included in this fun musical. This sounds MUCH better than my crummy DVD copy. An all around win in the audio department.

Special Features 

Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely LOVED each and every special feature on this disc. Unfortunately, there are a few of them in Standard Definition, which is highly disappointing.
  • Pow! The Dances of West Side Story In-Movie Viewing Mode
  • Song-Specific Commentary by Stephen Sondheim
  • Music Machine
Blu-ray Specific Features:
  • A Place for Us: West Side Story’s Legacy
– Creation and Innovation
– A Timeless Vision
  • West Side Memories
  • Storyboard-to-Film Comparison Montage

Final Thoughts

Well, I hope you enjoyed my review for West Side Story. You should really buy it! It’s a classic cinematic achievement, that is one of my favorites. Well end your suffering little man. Why don’t you pack up your gear and get to your local Best Buy?


Order West Side Story on Blu-ray!


4 Responses to “West Side Story (Blu-ray Review)”

  1. Aaron Neuwirth

    Great film. Great music. Great use of color. Had the chance to see it on the big screen and it was a wonderful film to watch that way.

  2. Brian White

    Oldie, but goodie!
    What features were in the music machine?

  3. Sean Ferguson

    I’m looking forward to seeing this on Blu-ray!

  4. Matt Blu-man

    It’s such a good Blu-ray.