Saturday, October 25, 2008

During the late 50’s and early 60’s there was a large influx of Cuban and Puerto Rican immigrants to the United States. The US was on the verge of integration and racial issues were prime issues on the mind of Americans. Tensions were high and Dance and music were confrontational and allowed the youth to define themselves in a peaceful though confrontational manor. The music and lighting as well as coloration helped define emotions, tone, and pushed the separation ideas further. Jets wore Blue and were mostly blonde or redheads. The Sharks were Latino with black hair and dressed in Red. We see a few members of each group representing the colors of the other group. The true “core” members stay true to their colors. Space is used well in plays. Choreography is mathematical and deliberate. Negative space, balance, height, volume, concentration, upstaging, Lighting, shading, everything is included. Music moves the pace of the play along with long low notes slowing down the motion and quick high pitched notes increasing tension. Quick low notes show physical interaction and drive the characters.
The scene I chose is just after the rumble. At the beginning of the song “Somewhere”. Maria and Tony are in her room. The red and blue that have represented the separate sides throughout are mixed. They are holding each other and the lines are beginning to blur for them. The cultural integration is beginning with the two of them. Tony tried to explain to his people that social conformity is possible and the violence is unnecessary. Lighting, negative space and placing of the central characters in the shot is what pulled me to the shot. I believe this scene is the summation of the entire movie in one shot. There is no definition between them. The negative space includes both of them and surrounds them. I know it isn’t the most detailed shot in the movie but it is the most beautiful and speaks the loudest about the movie. If I had to sum up West side Story in one shot this would be the one. The Red and Blue has separated lighting, sides, clothing, etc throughout the entire movie. It is representative of the north and the south, two colors of blood, Hot and cold, but not race. This is a movie about racial integration but typical racial stereotypes were not used for color. The lighting, wardrobes, sets, everything was well thought out to help portrait the turmoil but in a neutral way.

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