The Battle Over West Side Story

Dec 15, 2021 · 1985 views

They’re going to rock it tonight: Ariana DeBose, Rita Moreno and Rachel Zegler shine in the all new West Side Story. Photos courtesy of 20th Century Studios, illustration: Fausto Fernós.

When West Side Story hit theaters in 1961, it was a commercial and critical success, with Rita Moreno becoming the first Puerto Rican actor to win an Oscar for her role as Anita.

This urban take on Romeo and Juliet created by four Jewish gay artists as a cautionary tale about the hate destroying forbidden love resonated with audiences worldwide. The musical is nowadays considered a classic, but it’s also been criticised for its portrayal of Puerto Ricans and for casting white actors in brown-face makeup instead of actual Latinx performers.

60 years later, West Side Story is back, this time directed by Stephen Speilberg with new lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, a new book by Tony Kushner and Executive Produced by and starring Rita Moreno in a new role as the motherly Valentina.

The remake is being celebrated for its more positive portrayal of minorities, but some folks are still stung by the racist legacy of the original work and would rather see new films created for and by Puerto Rican people.

Today we take a look at Stephen Speilberg’s remake of West Side Story, what changes they made, why the box office numbers are low and why you will love it!


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