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Headscratchers: West Side Story
  • Maybe I'm missing something, but this bunch of lyrics in "A Boy Like That" confuse me: "...he'll murder your love, he murdered mine!" Obviously by "murdered mine", Anita is clearly referencing Bernardo, but Maria's love IS Tony, who did kill Bernardo (i.e. Anita's love)! Unless maybe Anita meant Maria would lose her own ability to love and turn into a murderer like Tony. Definitely gives a different spin to Maria's "...and everything he is, I am too."
    • I think Anita means literally in regards to her love (i.e. Tony killed Bernardo) and metaphorically with regards to Maria's love (i.e. she believes Tony will end up breaking Maria's heart). It's not a stretch; Sondheim is the kind of writer who would be aware of the double meaning.
  • Right after Riff and Bernardo die in the rumble, I wondered why Tony and Maria didn't try to take over their respective gangs and stop the gang war. Tony's got an easy shot at it (the other gang members clearly respect him for killing Bernardo and he seems to have been relatively high up in the gang already). Maria was Bernardo's sister, so that's a point for her, but I admit I have no idea how they'd pull this side of it off. Still, I wonder why neither of them even thought of this.
    • After their best friend and brother, respectively, got killed, I can see how they probably wouldn't be thinking straight. Or if they were, they could probably realize themselves that there was extremely little chance they'd succeed.
    • Maria is a girl and a pretty young one at that. Neither gang seems to be into women's rights, and Maria is treated as barely more than a child. As for Tony, he's about to be arrested for murder. It seems highly unlikely that he's going to be able to stick around long enough to take control of the Jets and broker a peace with the Sharks.
      • No way would Hispanic men in that time period accept a woman their own age or younger as any sort of leader. Some gang member's mother could maybe have a shot, but not a girl of their generation.
  • The ending. Just... the ending. It just... ends!
    • My friend has the deluxe DVD version with script and writers'/director's commentary. According to her, Maria kills herself offscreen.
    • This troper has always assumed that was the point. It's mostly stuff that happened. The plot isn't the entire point, the characters are, and the gangs coming to a peace, too. Once that is accomplished, Maria, our main character walks off, with no idea where her life is going. And the audience has no idea either. Her killing herself, assuming the above poster is correctly informed, would change it from a "What Now?" Ending to a Downer Ending. In other words, life there is screwed up and it's hard to find a direction, you don't get one handed to you even if you are a main character.
    • It was supposed to be a Romeo and Juliet type of story, and we all know the fairy-tale ending to THAT one...
    • Maria most definitely does not kill herself. West Side Story is not Romeo and Juliet, it only follows the same basic architype.
      • Mmm, no, West Side Story is Romeo and Juliet in almost every way - the only plot point that doesn't have a parallel in the Shakespeare is that Maria doesn't kill herself.
      • Hey, don't argue with Word of God.
      • Who was it that said it? If it wasn't Bernstein, Sondheim, or, most importantly, Robbins or Laurents, it doesn't count.
      • Well, as the first response to this post actually says, it's the writers' and directors' commentary that says this happens. Seems like Word of God to me.
      • Except no, since they're the movie's directors/writers, not the play's. Those who worked on the movie may have their own interpretation, but it's not Word of God.
    • The Blu-Ray includes the same documentary as the DVD, and it says that Maria did not kill herself, because of how much stronger her character had become by that point.
    • Some theatre versions (Melbourne, Australia 2010) also makes it clearer that Maria refuses to commit suicide.
  • In the movie during "Anita's rape scene", Ice and Anybodys magically disappear. I have been thinking that this is because the directors did not know what to do with the characters— Anybodys, of course, because she is female, and standing by while another female is being raped is gonna be bad. Ice is considered cool headed and logical, so he would think better than to harass her, but probably not stop everyone else from doing that— and he is supposed to be likable, and standing off to the side and letting everyone else rape Anita would be, eh, UNLIKABLE. So he poofed to. Then Anybodys magically reappears after Doc tells them to leave.
    • Anbodys can actually be seen during much of the attempted rape scene, sort of skulking about at the cellar door. I didn't see Ice in the drugstore at all, in that scene.
      • Anybodys is going to have such big therapy bills in late adolescence/early adulthood, I predict?

    • Before Anita arrives, Ice goes out the back door to check and make sure things are all right, i.e., that neither Chino nor any of the other Sharks are lurking around.

  • Okay, so both gangs are supposed to be seen as sympathetic and flawed, right? Then why the hell are the Jets such assholes? They were bordering on monstery for me, but when they tried to rape Anita, I was like "Fuck Dis". The Sharks attitude made them easier to relate to, and I'm white as snow and have never faced discrimation. Ever.
    • Maybe it is Positive Discrimination?
    • Long story short, they basically thought that Anita was either out to kill Tony or a major player in the plot to do so. Also, depending on the production and the director, it's not necessarily rape or even attempted rape; it's more dramatic if it is, but I've seen two or three excellent portrayals of the scene where the Jets basically just beat the crap out of her. Also, what did the Jets do prior to that? And in any case, can you imagine a similar scene with Graziella and the Sharks going much differently?
      • Wait, are you saying that being out to kill Tony is an excuse to rape her?
      • In the moments before, she came to the cafe and asked them where Tony was and they were harassing her, flipping up her skirt, and groping her. I saw the Broadway version, and to me, the Sharks all seemed like greedy assholes. Also, yeah, person above. It's no excuse, it's plain monstery.
      • Yes. I was implying in any way, shape or form that there is an excuse to rape somebody. I was saying why they did it. Charles Manson killed people because he was fucking crazy. It's not an excuse, but it's why he did it. The situation was brutal and one where non monstrous people do monstrous and inexcusable things to each other.
      • Nobody was asking their thought process in doing so, they asked why they were being so damn terrible. Whether they had a reason rather than just for shits and giggles, it still makes them complete assholes.
      • If someone's out trying to kill your best friend—and her boyfriend just killed another one of your best friends—I can definitely imagine getting pissed off and doing something stupid. After all, Tony killed Bernardo for accidentally killing Riff. Why wouldn't the Jets rape Anita for purposely killing—or trying to kill, whatever—Tony?
      • Also, part of the point of the show is a commentary on gang mentality. If any of the Jets had been alone, of course no rape would have occured.
      • It was also a dramatic escalation of sorts. I don't think at the beginning of the movie the Jets were that bad, but violence begot more violence which begot more violence. I think that's what Maria's speech was getting at at the end of the film.
  • I don't know about you, but this trouper would NOT automatically sleep with the person who JUST killed her brother. OK, it was an accident, OK, he was sorry, OK, he didnt mean to do it and wanted to turn himself in. But still...HE KILLED YOUR BROTHER!! And you AUTOMATICALLY sleep with him?! Your brother's been dead not even one hour, and you give yourself to the guy who took his life?! No...just no.
    • Okay...?
    • You keep saying "automatically", as if Maria was some kind of robot whose programming to mourn her brother was overwritten by programming to have sex with Tony. Remember, when the scene opens she runs at Tony and tries to attack him. You can make an argument that their liaison at that point is nothing close to healthy or smart; but they're both deeply traumatized and they need to be with someone who understands.
    • By automatically I meant she didn't stop to think, "HOLD ON, my brother is dead and HE killed him!" Also she ran to him, but then insted of attacking she throws herself into his arms! Like, HELLO, your brother JUST died, and HE did it! plus you can be with someone without having SEX with them. Sex isn't a game,it's a big deal, it's giving yourself to someone...and it's also understood Maria was a virgin. You lost your virginity to you BROTHER'S KILLER?! Something isn't right there...
      • I'm not sure they had sex. It's clearly not implicitly stated. If it makes you feel more comfortable, you can just assume they lied in each other's arms all night?
    • Four little words: "Love at first sight." In fiction, characters just don't oppose that, no matter what.
  • Are we sure that "Gee, Officer Krupke" explains that Jets are just bored assholes who hate work? Because a Freudian Excuse, Parental Abandonment, was certainly implied with Riff, and then there was the line "We've got troubles of our own!", after a part where they were arguing about what was wrong with Riff. Sounds like the life of a JD to me.
    • I think it's more accurate to say that the point the song is trying to make is "The issue of juvenile deliquency is really complicated and cannot be attributed to any single cause alone."
  • Wouldn't Maria's father wonder what she was doing at the fire escape for several minutes, especially if he overheard her and Tony singing?
    • Wouldn't EVERYBODY? After she repeatedly tells him to "shh", they then proceed to sing a love duet with no heed for anyone overhearing. Movie magic at it's best.
    • Well we've seen Tony has the ability to warp time and space in the dance scene so maybe he slows down time around him and Maria... Doesn't make much sense, but it justifies the trippy dance scene and this.
  • Why does Anybodys hang out with the gang? Does she have some gender confusion issues or are we supposed to take it as harmless tomboy fun. I think the play/movie could have functioned just as well without her. It seems like some deliberate statement was made by making her a girl?
    • She just wants to be one of them. And the show would function without her, except that it would lose some character 'texture', I think.
    • She wants to be one of them, but isn't exactly. In the show (and maybe film?) she doesn't run away after the Rumble and pulls Tony away from Bernardo and Riff's bodies. The other Jets have fled.
  • It always strikes me as amusing that the swearing is censored: "ever-loving", "bugging", etc, but the violence and threatened rape isn't. Oh 1950s, you were a strnage fish.
  • How old are these people supposed to be anyway? Most of these actors look like they're 30.


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