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The Film List Project #14: West Side Story

"Something, something, something, America."

That's how a friend described the movie to me when told I was watching West Side Story for the first time today. It's also probably how you'll remember this blog post.

I haven't even seen West Side Story on stage before, but I'll definitely seek it out after this viewing. Despite my ignorance, I couldn't help feeling a strange sense of familiarity with every number that came along. I guess this film, the story, and its music are that present in pop culture, even after 50+ years.

The thing that sticks out to me about this film is how authentic it is. Here's what I mean: with a lot of play/musical adaptations, a certain magic that you feel when you see it on stage is lost. However, I didn't feel like this adaptation lost any of the stage magic. I have no idea why I feel that way. It's just a vibe I get.

There are a lot of things that stick out about this movie to other people, but the thing that stuck out most to me was the song "America". For those of you who are unfamiliar, "America" is sung by the Sharks, a gang of young Puerto Rican immigrants. The girls and guys in the group are singing at each other, with the girls expressing their optimistic views of the country, and the boys singing about the reality of being an immigrant here.

The song speaks the truth. The prejudices the boys describe still exist, but the optimism the girls sing with is the way we're going to bring about change. It is indescribably horrible that prejudiced attitudes still exist in this country (and everywhere, but let's take it one step at a time). This is one way that the timelessness is not a good thing. Hopefully, people will hear this song in the near future and think about how dated it is.

Thanks for reading. I hope all your dreams come true and you feel pretty.

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