In October, 2019, the remake of ‘West Side Story’ ended its filming and the new classic musical has planned to reach cinemas on 18 December 2020. This version is starring Ansel Elgort, and Rachel Zegler as the couple of Tony and Maria. ‘West Side Story’ account of a romance to Romeo and Juliet in the city of New York, conditioned by the racism and the xenophobia and the violent street gangs.
Steven Spielberg has spoken with Vanity Fair on the importance of the story told by this film today. “This story is a product of its time, but that time has returned, and has done so with a kind of fury social. I wanted to tell you that puerto rican experience, nuyoricana (nuevayorkino and puerto rican), basically, of immigration in this country and their difficulty to create their life, to have children and to combat the obstacles of xenophobia and racial prejudice”features Spielberg.
The story follows Maria, newly arrived from Puerto Rico, together with many other immigrants seeking a better life in the economic boom after the Second World War. We also meet Tony, the former leader of a street gang called the Jets. This band continues to act and is facing up to the new group of puerto ricans called the Sharks. The Sharks is the band led by the brother of Maria, Bernardo. Tony and Maria fall in love with each other while their respective friends are fighting for control of the city of New York.
The new images of this remake show that the costume is greatly inspired by the original movie. We see Zegler with a white dress and a red belt, an outfit almost identical to that carried Natalie Wood. Although many aspects of the story remain, others have changed to improve it, for example, in representation.
In the 1961 film, many of the actors were white with dark make up and Spielberg wanted to cram into his casting to actors and actresses with a seed Spanish for the puerto rican characters: “They have contributed to authenticity. They themselves and everything they believe in and everything about them is what they have brought to the job. All represent, I believe, a diversity, both puerto rican as community nuyoricana and more widely of the latino community. And have taken it very seriously”, says the director.
Another relevant change as to the origin of the deal is the signing of the actress Ariana DeBose, who plays Anita. DeBose has been involved in the hit musical ‘Hamilton’ (created by the actor Lin-Manuel Miranda) and was nominated for a Tony for her performance in the musical ‘Summer: The Donna Summer Music’. “I’m afrolatina and I told him (Spielberg) “If I you are considering for the role, probably I will be the woman more dark in interpreting it in the screen”. In some way, you’re not sure if Anita is an african-american or latino. I said “I Think there is something to come, something of value,” and he was intrigued by that observation. It was fun to feel that I was contributing to their new mink in any way”.
The actress confesses his obsession for ‘West Side Story’ in its infancy: “I grew up watching the movie and I fell in love with the woman in the purple dress. Even before you have to really understand what was going the story, I knew that I wanted to do what she did. When I grew up, I discovered that she was Rita Moreno, and it seemed to me. It was one of the first women that I saw on the screen whose skin was close to mine. I was influenced a lot”.
The voice of experience
Rita Moreno performed the same role now inherits DeBose and is also involved in this new version. Moreno plays Valentina, but also is executive producer and apparently a great advisor to Spielberg. Moreno won the Oscar for Best supporting actress for her role as Anita in the original film.
The new character of Brown is the widow of Doc, the character that the original tape was the owner of the store, which functioned as a neutral ground for the street gangs. Moreno says that both Spielberg as the writer Tony Kushner have wanted to fix errors.
As a consultant, Brown has helped the young actors to better target their dialogues, for example in a scene of confrontation between the Sharks and the Jets. The actress noted that they did not understand the gravity supposed at the time to the guys puerto ricans who came to the police to separate the fight: “I used swear words and all, I told them, “you’re screwed. If you catch it you’re screwed. You don’t have another chance, ” And they looked at me with her big beautiful brown eyes. I told them, “Speaking to yourselves before you do the scene again. I Asustaos each other!””.
‘West Side Story’ will be premiered on the 18th of December 2020.