Are you ready movie fans? Iconic director Steven Spielberg has officially directed his first-ever movie musical, and it is a remake of an all-time classic film and Broadway show; “West Side Story.” The official trailer was just released this week.
This modern day “Romeo and Juliet” tale initially takes place within the tough streets of the upper west side of New York City in the 1950s. Conflict between two different races (a group of White people who called themselves the Jets and a Puerto Rican group named the Sharks) plays out in the story. Things end up getting even more complicated though when a member of each side begin to fall in love with one another. Due to the animosity between the two gangs, their love was forbidden by their families and their cultures were not allowed to mix. There’s a strong amount of racism in the neighborhood, as many people from Puerto Rico began to migrate into the mainland United States at the time.
This updated tale is expected to portray more authentically many of the characters than previous versions. In past generations, it was much more common to cast White actors in minority roles than minorities themselves. To rectify this, Spielberg only wanted Hispanic actors to play the Hispanic characters in his film. According to reports, 20 of the 33 Puerto Rican characters portrayed in “West Side Story” are “specifically Puerto Rican or of Puerto Rican descent.”
Spielberg recently shared the following with Vanity Fair; “I really wanted to tell that Puerto Rican, Nuyorican experience of basically the migration to this country and the struggle to make a living, have children, and to battle against the obstacles of xenophobia and racial prejudice.” There’s sure to be comparisons in how far we’ve come (or perhaps how far we haven’t) since the original musical and film came out over 60 years ago.
The hype this time around looks to be significant, especially due to Spielberg’s involvement and the original film winning 10 Academy Awards during its run, including Best Picture. Disney and 20th Century finished production of the movie back in October 2019 but has been awaiting release after being delayed on multiple occasions due to the pandemic.
“West Side Story” is currently scheduled to be released in theaters on December 10th.