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West Side Story
SUBJECTS — Drama/Musicals; U.S./1945 - 1991; Diversity & New York;
SOCIAL-EMOTIONAL LEARNING — Fighting; Revenge;
MORAL-ETHICAL EMPHASIS — Trustworthiness; Respect; Caring.
Age: 12+; Not Rated; Musical; 1961; 151 minutes; Color.
This film is an adaptation of the "Romeo and Juliet" story, moved to New York in the 1950s. The movie is regarded as one of the best musicals ever filmed. West Side Story is a consummate work of art. The music, lyrics, and choreography are terrific. The male dancing is strikingly masculine and virile, an expression of the strength and energy of the young men who make up the rival gangs.
The TeachWithMovies.com Learning Guide to West Side Story will help teachers and parents use the film to explore themes such as the danger of bad associations, the risks of unreasoning and hasty revenge, the risks and futility of fighting, the evils of prejudice, and the problems inherent in disrespect for authority.
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The dancing in West Side Story is some of the best on film. The movie introduces children to the development of gangs of Puerto Rican young men in New York. The music is beautiful. This film is among the ten best musicals ever made.
No one who has seen West Side Storywill forget Tony, Maria, Bernardo, and Anita . . . or Seargeant Krupke.
Learning Guide Excerpt
To give you a sense of how our Learning Guides can be used by teachers to develop lesson plans, and by parents to supplement school curriculum or for homeschooling, we have set out below one of the discussion questions from the Learning Guide to West Side Story.
In the fight, did Riff expect Bernardo to be behind the group of boys with a knife pointed at him? Did Bernardo expect Tony to grab the knife and kill him? What does this tell us about fighting?
The Learning Guide to the film West Side Story contains sections on Benefits of the Movie, Possible Problems, Helpful Background, Discussion Questions, Links to the Internet, and Bridges to Reading. The Discussion Questions are divided into three categories: Subject Matter, Social-Emotional Learning, and Moral-Ethical Emphasis.
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