For all those who may have been wondering why we needed another film version (or *any* new version) of West Side Story, the first teaser for Steven Spielberg‘s adaptation answered that question with breathtaking cinematic vigor. And it’s stunning.
In stark silhouettes and a palette that mixes classical filmmaking with a gritty, modern eye, Spielberg shows that in the right hands and with a distinct, original vision, something that seems passé and overdone actually has a lot of new life left in it — especially when the source itself is a masterpiece.
For a movie event that was originally scheduled to open last December before the COVID pandemic struck (and, more than likely, would’ve been a competing at this year’s Oscars), Spielberg’s West Side Story is, at its foundation, a faithful adaptation of the Jerome Robbins / Stephen Sondheim / Leonard Bernstein classic modernization of Romeo & Juliet set in 1950s New York between warring gangs of whites and Puerto Ricans.
And yet, with a screenplay from Tony-winner and three-time Spielberg collaborator Tony Kushner, this first look shows just how much fresh vitality a legendary auteur can infuse into a piece that has been performed and staged countless times — including the 1961 film that won 10 Academy Awards including Best Picture.
Now, 60 years later, Spielberg’s vision may add even more Oscar gold to this evergreen monument of musical theatre.
Starring Ansel Elgort and newcomer Rachel Zegler as the star-crossed lovers Tony and Maria, Ariana DeBose (Anita), David Alvarez (Bernardo), Mike Faist (Riff), Brian d’Arcy James (Officer Krupke), and Rita Moreno (who won an Oscar for playing Anita in the original film) who co-stars in a reimagining of the soda shop owner “Doc”, West Side Story opens this holiday season in movie theaters on December 10, 2021.
I can’t wait to see the something that’s coming.
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