West Side Story: Steven Spielberg’s great homage in the modern musical!

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50 years after the first major film adaptation, Steven Spielberg brings back a great classic in the history of cinema, West Side Story. A fresh, original and colorful version, available on Disney +

Halfway between the great musicals of Broadway and thegolden age of Hollywood. West Side Story, the last signed masterpiece Steven Spielbergafter the great success achieved in the room, finally available starting from March 2nd on the platform Disney+. Based on the musical of the same name by Leonard Bernstein, Stephen Sondheim ed Arthur Laurents; as early as 1961 Robert Wise together with Jerome Robbins, they directed a high-impact film adaptation, winning 10 Oscars.

This time Steven Spielberg put all his energy into a new adaptation, exceeding all expectations. A homage to classic cinema, with a pinch of originality, freshness and color; in a modern musical that echoes the love drama of Romeo and Juliet.

Written by Tony Kushnerhas young actors as protagonists Rachel Zegler e Ansel Elgortflanked by Ariana DeBose, David Alvarez, Mike Faist, Corey Stoll, Brian d’Arcy James e Rita Morenostar of the 1961 film.

West Side Story: the timeless myth

This is one of the most committed films in the director’s career, it immediately presents itself as a timeless myth, always current and very close to us all.

Tracing the Shakespearean love story of Romeo and Juliet, West Side Story is set in the late 1950s, focusing on the struggles between gangs and others in New York society of the time. Two factions against each other: i Jetsmade up of European immigrants, and the Sharks, a gang of Puerto Rican immigrants. The two protagonists, Tony e Maria (one co-founder of the Jets and the other sister of Bernardo, leader of the Sharks), bond and fall in love in a context of fear, hatred and intolerance. Tested by rival families, the two young people will do everything to shout their union to the world.

A chronicle of sagainst / encounter, through a cinematic staging of injustices and the desire to change the world. In fact, the film script adopted presses on unraveling the powerful American dream, which many consider as unattainable and full of opportunities, at the same time insidious and contradictory.

West Side Story: Steven Spielberg's great homage in the modern musical!

It is no coincidence then, the director’s choice of the two young actors with Latin American features, intended to strengthen and extend up to our eyes, the strong racial conflict still permeating in society, combined with the desire to conquer the sense of identity. An intensified and visceral tale of a cruel American society in chaos, in constant struggle between invisible classes and social inequalities.

Different cultures and genres, staged and set to music by two souls prisoners of their own preconceptionsbut eager to shout to the world the desire to break down every barrier.

West Side Story: not the classic remake!

Immediately Steven Spielberg he was clear about considering his new version, not as a remake of the previous film, but rather as a remake a different adaptation from the original able to maintain a strong union between tradition and innovation.

Moved by the deep desire to preserve the uniqueness of a work dear to him, he experiences gods small but detailed tricks, capable of highlighting themes and conflicts that are always central, without ever being banal.

Among these the powerful dynamism in the movements of movie camera. Opposite (but not contrary) to the classic narrative structure of the traditional musical; the strong presence of the camera not only illustrates sequence after sequence the narrative events, but it follows the development of the young actors in the construction of the events; built with wide turns, trolley and articulated plans.

West Side Story: Steven Spielberg's great homage in the modern musical!

The continuous active and participatory presence presents itself as a directorial strategy to incorporate and entice the viewer to the vision.

The great frenzy and chaos of the cosmopolitan life of the cities is further enhanced by a detailed use of photography, lights and colors. The whirlwind of contrasts between lights, shadows and colors; highlight the great architectural structures from the outside to the inside.

The huge gray buildings, the busy and endless streets, become like this a stage for the evolution of events, with their imposing and massive architectural structures. The roughness and greyness of the city contrasts with the light and brilliance often (but not always) given off by the warm and enveloping shades of the interiors and clothes.

The arrangement of David Newman on the original notes of Leonard Bernstein, intertwine in a dizzying dance over the notes of America; Somewhere; Maria; Tonight; A Boy Like That and more. An emotional and perhaps oppositional envelope such as love and hate, life and death, light and darkness, a metaphor for a world in constant change and conflict.

West Side Story: director’s notes. Steven Spielberg’s challenge

The focal point underlined by Steven Spielberg in West Side Story is the ability contained in the story to offer all viewers true universal lessons. It is not a simple love story, but a meaningful cultural hard work with a great premise, namely, that love can break down any barrier of prejudice and intolerance.

For this reason, the film represented a way of putting creativity in the field at 360 °, demonstrating a real quest to prove itself:

I felt creatively freer doing this musical than any of my other previous films. in a musical you have to express your identity through dance and songs and I didn’t realize that until I shot one. I didn’t really understand how varied the range of creativity was and how many tools the actors had at their disposal to express themselves in a much deeper way.

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