The teaser trailer for Steven Spielberg’s film remake of West Side Story made its debut during the 93rd Academy Awards. Despite the trailer barely reaching the 2 minute mark, it’s safe to say something’s coming… and that something seems good.
The film will premiere on 10 December 2021, exactly 60 years since the original film’s release. This remake will also mark Spielberg’s first musical project in his long and prestigious career.
West Side Story is a remake in itself, bringing Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet to the screen against a backdrop of gang culture in 1950s New York. While still being a catchy musical, it is jam-packed with tragedy, drama and racial tensions, leading to a heart-wrenching denouement.
Some iconic shots from the original present themselves in the teaser, whetting our nostalgic appetites for its future release. Snippets of our star crossed lovers Tony (Ansel Elgort) and Maria (Rachel Zegler), from their first encounter across the ballroom to the iconic balcony shot, tugs at our heartstrings. Yet one of the greatest showcases of cinematic prowess is when the warring gangs, the Jets and the Sharks, begin to cross shadows before confronting each other in a dark alleyway. This is the just the suspense-building mastery we have come to expect from Spielberg.
This adaptation has already received praise for properly representing America’s Hispanic community with its cast of Latinx actors. This includes renowned Broadway actors Ariana DeBose as Anita and David Alvarez as Bernardo. Spielberg himself said: “I’m so happy that we’ve assembled a cast that reflects the astonishing depth of talent in America’s multifaceted Hispanic community”. In fact, our executive producer is none other than Rita Moreno, who won an Oscar for her performance as Anita in the original film. She will also appear in the remake as new character Valentina.
That’s not to say that the film’s release will be without controversy. Last year, a woman accused lead actor Ansel Elgort of sexually assaulting her when she was 17 and he was 20. Elgort denied assault, stating that they had had a “brief, legal and entirely consensual relationship.” His co-star, Rachel Zegler, then tweeted: “believe survivors.”
All the timeless original songs by Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim, including “Tonight”, “Maria” and “America”, will feature, but with a new screenplay by the director.
Following in the footsteps of A Star is Born, West Side Story will undergo a 21st-century revamp. With the former receiving 7 Oscar nominations, can we expect the same cinematic triumph for Spielberg’s upcoming film? With so many striking visuals to unpick from this teaser, we can definitely start getting our hopes up.
Words by Katie Heyes
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