West Side Story 2021 Movie – Love Story

West Side Story 2021 Movie – Love Story

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Filmmaker Steven Spielberg says he had to be fearless to be able to make “West Side Story”, a reimagining of the beloved Broadway musical of the same name, and credits the films he helmed so far for giving him the “courage”.

An adaptation of the famed 1957 Broadway musical of the same title, the movie depicts the love story between Rachel Zegler and Ansel Elgort’s Maria and Tony, whose ill-fated romance fans the bitter rivalry between local New York street gangs the Sharks and the Jets.

The stage musical also saw a movie adaptation in 1961, directed by Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins.

In a 10-min video, shared by the YouTube page of 20th Century Studios India, the legendary filmmaker was engaged in a virtual conversation with Bollywood director Shoojit Sircar, who had performed the play in his theatre days.

Sircar, known for films like “Piku”, “October” and “Sardar Udham”, noted that Spielberg has become more “fearless”, and to this, the 74-year-old director said he had to go all out to make his first feature-length musical.

“I think everybody, when they’re older, gets more fearless. Maybe not everybody, but I certainly needed to be fearless in order to take this on. Because this is obviously based on the great Broadway musical, but it will be liberally compared to the 1961 film. Both the 1961 film and the Broadway musical owe a huge debt of gratitude to William Shakespeare, and Romeo and Juliet.”

“So I didn’t feel like I was violating anything because I don’t really necessarily love remakes. But I didn’t consider this a remake. I consider this a reimagined, more authentic and more contemporary version of the original musical,” Spielberg said.

The filmmaker dubbed the Broadway show as “arguably the greatest American musical” and said even though it has been reimaged countless times across the world — onscreen and on stage — every interpretation is different.

“I felt that because it is so liberally reproduced again and again, every new cast brings a different interpretation. They may say the same lines, because they’re by contract to say the same lines that were originally written in the 1950s, but they’re able to interpret those lines in a new, modern way.

“I didn’t feel like I was violating the great classic that the original ‘West Side Story’ film was by telling this 2021 version of a 1957 story.” The film is penned by Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award winner Tony Kushner.

Spielberg said that though he never attempted a musical before, the genre was always close to his heart.

The original musical, inspired by William Shakespeare’s play Romeo and Juliet, was conceived by Jerome Robbins with music by Leonard Bernstein, lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, and a book by Arthur Laurents.

“It just took ‘West Side Story’ to get me to do one to do a musical. I don’t think there’s any other musical I would have done except for this because it’s been relevant in my life since my parents bought the original Broadway cast album when I was 10 years old…

“I’ve been banking my courage, letting every movie I’ve made give me a little more courage until finally I could pop the question… And be able to reimagine the work of those four geniuses — Robbins, Bernstein, Sondheim and Laurents,” he added.

During the conversation, Sircar observed how the film showcased a talented Hispanic and Latino community, mentioning that this itself was a “big statement” by the maker in a time of “xenophobia and racism”.

Spielberg said it was crucial for him that the film represented the Latinx community, authentically.

“There’s not a single Puerto Rican character that is not played by a Latin X performing artiste. As a matter of fact, 50 of our artistes in this are either Puerto Rican, or of Puerto Rican descent, including Rita Moreno and Ariana DeBose and Josh (Andres Rivera), who plays Chino.

“So we had 50 actors who had never made a film before, ever. It was really amazing to have that possibility.” He stressed that with “West Side Story”, the team intends to directly have a conversation with the young generation and hopes the youth will lead the change the world desperately needs today.

“It’s a direct conversation and dialogue with the young people all over the world today. I also feel that it’s this generation that is going to determine the fate of all of us. And it’s how they’re influenced and what influences them.

“If they can start a conversation with people, who are different than they are, if xenophobia someday can be in our rearview mirror and not in our present day vernacular… All of that is going to be accomplished by several new generations of young people who really care about each other. If empathy continues to die, then everything dies along with it, including democracy. I really feel that the secret ingredient in all of this is trying to find or rediscover empathy,” he added.

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