Number of Times Seen – 1 (13 Dec 2021)
Brief Synopsis – Two people from opposite sides of the tracks fall in love and must try and find a way to make it work despite the fact that their love has fueled the flames of hate around them.
My Take on it – Wow!!!
I have been a fan of this play/movie for as long as I can remember and was quite concerned when I heard that this was being made that Steven Spielberg was making a mistake by trying to remake a near perfect classic musical.
This is not merely a remake, it is a re-imagining of this timeless story that resonates so much with the current atmosphere of hate in both America and in the world.
The story may be about gangs in the 1950’s but everything that transpires here could easily be transposed into middle America, the Middle East, The Iron Curtain, Korea… the list goes on.
This version of the musical takes many of the popular songs of the musical and relocates them to some more colorful laces that helps keep them feeling fresh and unique despite them still being the same song.
The cinematography is superb in both the musical numbers and the story itself and that adds so much more texture to the story and action of everything happening.
They deal with the violence of the story is a much more realistic way that in past versions which makes it even more powerful, especially the scene in the drug store.
The cast is superb and Ansel Elgort and Rachel Zelger are superb as Tony and Maria.
They have amazing chemistry together that allows for their love to feel so genuine and realistic the whole way through.
One of the flaws of the original version and the play is that the characters aren’t developed enough and this film does a wonderful job giving each of these characters more of a back story which helps flesh them out even more.
AS much as I love the original version of this film, I do believe that Spielberg has truly found a way to surpass it and this film is even better because of the way that it plays out.
The supporting cast here is also great with Ariana Debose doing an excellent job as Anita and both David Alvarez and Mike Faist adding so much more depth to Bernardo and Riff.
Rita Moreno outdoes them all those as Valentina and steals every scene she is in both by the way her character carries herself and by what she represents in a world of hate for the sake of hate.
This right now is my favorite film that is being totted for Oscars and I hope it makes history and reaps a whole lot of them including Best Picture and Director because it is so powerful and poignant in al that it does.
Most importantly tho, it is able to differentiate itself from previous versions of the story in ways that apparently only Spielberg is capable of.
Highly Highly Recommended!
MovieRob’s Favorite Trivia – According to a behind-the-scenes featurette of the film, Steven Spielberg explained why he always wanted to direct a motion picture adaptation of the original 1957 Broadway musical production: “I have been challenged by what would be the right musical to take on. And I could never forget my childhood. I was 10 years old when I first listened to the West Side Story album, and it never went away. I’ve been able to fulfill that dream and keep that promise that I made to myself: You must make West Side Story.” He, then, went on to explain why the musical is even more topical in modern times than it was when the musical first premiered on Broadway: “Divisions between un-likeminded people is as old as time itself,” Spielberg said. “And the divisions between the Sharks and the Jets in 1957, which inspired the musical, were profound. But not as divided as we find ourselves today. It turned out in the middle of the development of the script, things widened, which I think in a sense, sadly, made the story of those racial divides – not just territorial divides – more relevant to today’s audience than perhaps it even was in 1957.” (From IMDB)
Rating – Oscar Worthy (9/10)
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