The finest Broadway musical adaptation ever to grace the silver screen returns to the DVD racks this week in a deluxe, two-disc special edition box. “West Side Story” remains one of the most successful reworkings of Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet,” and still one of the finest movie musicals and films, in general, ever created. Transported to Manhattan amid the fury of gang wars between whites and Puerto Ricans in the 1950s, it garnered 10 Academy Awards in 1962, a record that stood until “Titanic’s” reign over 30 years later.
Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins’ artful, poetic ballet, accompanied by Leonard Bernstein’s unforgettable score, has been repackaged in an edition that is almost as memorable as the film itself. While the restoration available on the original DVD is the same format as the special edition, the picture remains close to perfection with colors that put “Moulin Rouge” to shame. A Dolby Digital 5.1 audio transfer compliments the cinematography with crisp sound that greatly enhances viewing quality.
What makes the package worthwhile, especially since the transfer is basically the same, is the one-hour featurette, original intermission music and other features on disc two, as well as the accompanying collectible scrapbook. The second disc in the set includes “West Side Memories,” an unforgettable retrospective documentary complete with original recordings by Natalie Wood, interviews with cast members and a look back at the journey from stage to screen that shows the painstaking process that the cast and crew endured for the sake of art. Musical lovers, “West Side Story” aficionados and everyone else will enjoy the featurette, finding letdown only in the fact that it doesn’t go beyond its hour length.
Most impressive in the entire package is the collectible scrapbook. Contained in the book are the entire working screenplay, a reproduction of the original lobby brochure, behind-the-scenes memos and film reviews dating back to its release.
Finally, a Special Edition DVD has been created that compliments the quality and mastery contained in the original film. “West Side Story” can now be enjoyed more than ever on this anamorphic widescreen format that provides its fans with almost everything they could ask for, and everything the film deserves.
Movie: 5 Stars
Picture/Sound: 5 Stars
Bonus Features: 5 Stars