Spielberg takes longtime fans to ‘Western Tales’ reimagined

FILE PHOTO: Director Steven Spielberg speaks during an Apple special event at the Steve Jobs Theater in Cupertino
FILE PHOTO: Director Steven Spielberg speaks during an Apple special event at the Steve Jobs Theater in Cupertino, California, U.S., March 25, 2019. REUTERS / Stephen Lam

December 6, 2021

By Jill Serjeant

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Steven Spielberg has been remaking the classic musical “West Side Story” in his head for decades but says finally taking on it has been the riskiest challenge of his 50-year career. .

Half a century after the musical, written by Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim, won 10 Oscars, Spielberg has reimagined the love story between rival street gangs for a new generation but with reverence. of a true fan.

“Lyrics have been a part of my life for 65 years,” he said. “All of my kids memorize the album and I have videos at home of my kids performing ‘West Side Story’ in our living room.”

Sondheim, the musical’s lyricist, died at the age of 91 three days before the new film’s worldwide premiere.

“West Side Story,” Spielberg’s first shot at directing a musical, hits theaters worldwide this week featuring all Latinx characters played by Latinx actors and choreography. to an affectionate nod to the groundbreaking original without directly recreating it.

Spielberg said: “Nobody playing Shark, girl or boy, isn’t Latino or Latino… We didn’t want to have to put makeup on anyone’s face to convince the audience that they were human. Puerto Rico.

Based on Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet,” the new film focuses more on the issues of race, immigration, poverty and marginalization that dominate life in a 1950s slum of New York.

“Although we still set our film in 1957, it was very important to set it in the vernacular language of how this generation speaks and interacts with each other today,” says Spielberg.

“We needed to update the play to make it acceptable to the complexities that people have with each other in today’s society, from campus to politics to ideological divisions. .”

Spielberg says it’s a daunting task, but he doesn’t need to worry. The film, which stars Puerto Rican-born star Rita Moreno, now 89, who bridges generations by taking on a different role, has won critical acclaim.

Britain’s Daily Telegraph called it “Spielberg’s best film in 20 years” while the Los Angeles Times called it “a return to glory and a light fix”.

Newcomer Rachel Zegler, 20, plays Maria with a rare wildness.

“I think she’s often portrayed as very black and white, pure, and this isn’t your mother’s Maria,” says Zegler. “She’s very different, very nuanced.”

Moreno, who in 1962 became the first Latina to win an Oscar for her portrayal of fiery Anita, said she had mixed feelings when she returned to the story that started her career.

“I wouldn’t say I’m not jealous. Obviously I wished I could be that young again and do it again. But that’s not going to happen, and I get this beautifully written piece,” she said.

(Reported by Jill Serjeant; edited by Diane Craft)

https://www.oann.com/spielberg-brings-life-long-fandom-to-reimagined-west-side-story/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=spielberg-brings-life-long-fandom-to-reimagined-west-side-story Spielberg takes longtime fans to ‘Western Tales’ reimagined

Caroline Bleakley

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