The director appropriates the ten Oscar musical for a remake on the big screen. Postponed for a year, its release in French cinemas is confirmed for December 8.
At the 93rd Academy Awards on April 25, during yet another commercial break, guests had the privilege of seeing the first West Side Story trailer, this time reinterpreted by Steven Spielberg. Another adaptation! The first movie West Side Story, released in 1961, is itself adapted from the 1957 Broadway musical. The screenplay is based on Romeo and Juliet, against a background of racism and immigration.
With their forbidden love affair, Tony, played by Ansel Elgort (Baby Driver) and Maria (Rachel Zegler, who will soon play Snow White in the cinema) further stir up tensions between their families. What does this adaptation bring? Playwright Tony Kushner, to whom we owe the play Angels in America and the script of the new West Side Story, explained to Vanity Fair not require a remake, but “A reinterpretation, which will address aspects of urban life, not mentioned previously”. The Harlem district was therefore chosen as the filming location, from June to September 2019.
Spielberg stays true to history. The settling of scores, the dance duels, the soundtrack of composer Leonard Bernstein, nothing has aged a bit. However, the filmmaker rectifies one point in his adaptation: Hispanic comedians interpret the members of the Sharks immigrant gang well, where the 1961 film only engaged Rita Moreno, the only Hispanic-American actor in the cast. The other actors, white, covered their faces with tan. “I am so happy that we have assembled a cast representative of the depth of talent and the many facets of the Hispanic community in America., explains the director in a press release. I am in awe of the talent of these young artists, and I believe that they will bring electrifying energy to this magnificent musical, whose theme is more relevant than ever ”.
The success of West Side Story goes through the ages without ever losing its splendor, but these short extracts give a candid dimension to the story at this stage. The feature film may just as easily fall into the 2022 Oscar favorites list, like its predecessor, if Spielberg manages to put on a good show. To be clear, the appointment is made for December 8.
West Side Story , by Steven Spielberg. In theaters on December 8.