Ansel Elgort and Rachel Zegler co-star in the legendary Hollywood director's take on the 1961 Best Picture winner
With a legacy and cultural influence as large as the Statue of Liberty, it's hard to imagine why anyone would feel the need to remake West Side Story. But Steven Spielberg remaking West Side Story is a different matter, a “what if?” that seems to make more sense the longer you think about it. It's a notion furthered by the release of the first teaser for his long-delayed remake of the 1961 classic, which was supposed to hit theatres last December but was pushed back until this December on account of the pandemic. Check it out below:
As one has come to expect from a master of popular entertainment, this take on West Side Story – the footage of which came to us as part of last night's Oscar telecast – exemplifies all that is great about Spielberg the filmmaker: a peerless sense of camera placement, an unprecedented kind of polish, a sweeping sense of what makes a proper Hollywood picture sing.
Spielberg himself has long talked about his desire to direct a proper musical, of course – he even tested the waters during the opening of his 1984 adventure Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, kicking off the film with an extensive song and dance sequence set to Cole Porter's “Anything Goes.” The footage here, a realisation of this long-standing ambition, is overlaid with a haunting, almost eerie version of “Somewhere,” one of the musical's most beloved songs.
West Side Story, which stars Baby Driver's Ansel Elgort and newcomer Rachel Zegler as star-crossed lovers Tony and Maria, was written by Spielberg's favourite scribe Tony Kushner, and is set to recount the same iconic tale as the original musical, as waring street gangs – the Sharks and the Jets – do battle against a backdrop of 1950s New York. Though one can probably expect an increased political and social edge to go alongside the big numbers this time round. Still, if there's a movie primed to get audiences back into theatres en masse, surely it's this one?
West Side Story is scheduled for worldwide release in December 2021.