Saturday, November 26, 2011

West Side Story Term Paper

West Side Story Research Paper

Widely considered as a masterpiece of the America Musical Theater the movie version of West Side Story is among the most faithful of Hollywood adaptations. Leonard Bernstein's music, Jerome Robbins choreography, the story by Arthur Laurents and Stephen Sondheim's lyrics combine to transform William Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet into the language and temper of the streets in the '50's of New York City.

The musical, written and performed, opens with an overview of the setting, in Manhattan, and continues with a danced prologue indicating the tension between the Sharks, a gang of young Puerto Ricans, and the Jets, an American street gang. The head of the Jets, Riff swears to drive out the Sharks, lead by Bernardo, from the streets to claim a small "turf" in the West Side of Manhattan (Jet Song). Riff is determined to challenge Bernardo during the next dance, and asks his old friend and the co-founder of the Jets, Tony, to help him. Time has pulled Tony away from the gang, and makes him feel other emotions but agrees. (Something's Coming)


The actual drama takes place in the evening of two successive days. When during the dance the Jets and Tony surprisingly assemble with the Sharks and Maria, Bernardo's sister. Between Maria, who is promised to marry Chino, a member of the sharks, and Tony there is Love at first site (Maria).

In Shakespeare's famous Balcony scene, from Romeo and Juliet, Tony and Maria promise to love each other forever (Tonight), while accepting the situation surrounding their heritage. Later on all Puerto Rican girls state the benefits of living in America by dynamically singing and dancing (America).

While the situation escalates and the two groups decide to have a "clean" fight between their two strongest men, Tony promises Anita to prevent any sort of fighting and to meet with her afterwards. After all Tony's efforts to avoid violence between the groups, the fight escalates into a massacre. Bernado kills Riff and terror-stricken, at the sight of his best friend, Tony kills Bernardo by stabbing him with a knife. The Jet's heated about the death of their leader start singing (Cool).

Maria, still unfamiliar with the fact that Tony was not able to stop the fight, but rather turning it into a massacre, is still preparing for her rendezvous (I feel pretty). Just then Chino brings the dreadful news and swears to kill Tony. Bernardo's girlfriend Anita is outraged when she hears that Tony and Maria are dating and tries to enforce these ideas by singing (A boy like that).

Still chased by the police and the sharks Tony shows his depressed feelings towards killing Bernado and decides to visit Maria and confess the murder. Together they dream of a of a place free from hate and violence (Somewhere).

The story ends with Tony getting shot, in front of both gangs, by Chino and dying in Maria's arms. Accepting the harm that was caused over a small turf, in the West Side of Manhattan, the two groups symbolically carry Tony's remains away together and decide to hold peace.

Throughout translating the musical West Side Story to film several changes were made to suit audience sensibilities.

The change that was often discussed was the switching of "Gee, Officer Krupke" and "Cool". It appears that a joyful song such as Krupke is incompatible to the mood created by the fight, so this song, as well as the cheerful "I Feel Pretty" were both moved up to happier times before the "rumble". "Cool" was placed in the slot following the rumble.

In the musical, "America" is a light-hearted number sung by Anita and the other Porto Rican girls. In the movie version new lyrics were added to bring in the Porto Rican boys, thus this allowed them to be more active in the movie than on stage. The order of songs is also switched; on stage "Maria" and "Tonight" are consecutive, followed by "America", while in the film the production number comes between the two love songs.

As a result of the changes a new character was introduced, Ice. He was created to provide a solid descendant for Riff in the later part of the film. This character does not appear on stage.

Both Romeo and Juliet and Westside Story are centered around conflicts of young people. The adults seemed separated from the story since the needs of the youth are not sympathetic to them.

Something that differs Juliet from Maria is that she dies, while marrying Romeo, and Maria lives but does not merry Tony. In both plays the main character kills a relative of their lover. In Romeo and Juliet, Romeo kills Tybalta, Juliet's cousin. In West Side Story, Tony kills Bernardo, Maria's brother.

Together the movie version won 12 Academy awards including best picture, supporting actor and actress, best direction and even a special award for Jerome Robbins for his brilliant achievement of managing the choreography. All this really enforces the idea that this is an entertaining play to view for leisure and is one of the best translations from a musical to film.

Warning!!! All free sample term papers and college term paper examples on West Side Story topics are plagiarized and cannot be fully used in your high school, college or university education.

Order Custom Term Paper on West Side Story
If you need a custom written term paper, research paper, essay, dissertation, thesis paper or any other homework on your topic, will write your academic term papers from scratch. Starting at $12/page you can get 100% custom written papers online. We work with experienced PhD. and Master's freelance writers to help you with writing any papers in any discipline! High quality and 100% non-plagiarized term papers guaranteed!