January 16, 2022

The Queens County Citizen

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“West Side Story”: “The Most Delicious Experience After ‘ET'”, says Steven Spielberg

"West Side Story": "The Most Delicious Experience After 'ET'", says Steven Spielberg

Only Steven Spielberg brought the legendary musical “West Side Story” on Broadway in 1957 to the big screen in 1961 by Robert Wise and the 10 Oscar winner.

Steven Spielberg has had this idea in mind for six years, but he has had doubts for a long time. Because Maria (Rachel Ziegler) from Puerto Rican, and Tony (Ansel Elgart) from America, inspired by “Romeo and Juliet” on failed love affairs due to their affiliation with various street gangs – how can this story be retold in 1950s New York?

“I met Stephen Sondheim [parolier des chansons de la comédie musicale, décédé le 26 novembre dernier] “Since my company produced this film at the premiere of” Sweeney Todd – The Evil Barber of Fleet Street, “I saw him again at the White House when we received the Presidential Medal of Freedom,” said Steven Spielberg.

“I wanted to tell him that I had a terrible desire to do a ‘West Side Story’ version, but I did not understand it. Steve participated and he sat next to me in the studio for three weeks, ”he explained during a virtual press conference attended by the QMI agency.

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Steven Spielberg handed over the screenplay writing to Tony Kushner, two people who had worked with him for years together in their fourth film.

“When Steven asked me not to get involved in this madness, I told him it was impossible. I really like the movie that came out in 1961, it’s a masterpiece. I was advised to play Rita Moreno.

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Rita Moreno, the narrator of Anita, Maria’s best friend in the 1961 film, won an Oscar for her performance and was one of the producers of this “West Side Story” besides accepting the role. “.

“I worked very hard on set in my scene with Anita played by Ariana Debos. It was almost as bad. I looked at her and faced all the hardships in the world to fit the role of Valentina.

In the United States, scenes in Spanish are not subtitled, emphasizing Steven Spielberg’s “subject of honor”, which addresses major questions of racism and skin color, which are still relevant.

“I want English-speakers and Spanish-speakers sitting in the living room to laugh and laugh at each other at different times. We are definitely a bilingual country, ”the filmmaker continued.

A fan of “West Side Story” from an early age – his parents bought the record and little Steven played it in his room almost every day – he admitted that he “jumped out of my bed with pleasure. He sat for a long time. Poor dancing and singing during rehearsals. Musicians’ muscles With Justin Peck’s amazing choreography on display, there’s so much energy in the atmosphere of the dance and the song! But not during filming.

“West Side Story shooting was the happiest, most family-friendly experience I’ve had after ‘ET’. ‘During’ ET ‘, I felt like the father of all these actors, not me at the time. Born years later. And “West Side Story” The second time I felt like I was part of a different family. I’m not in the middle of the family, I’re part of it. “

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And, for Steven Spielberg, “This film is a celebration of being alive, and it’s a film about the need for dialogue before tragedy strikes.”

  • “West Side Story” will hit theaters across the province on December 10.