August 17th, 2014

  • mapol

On re-making of the film West Side Story--Opinions of a Nay-Sayer:

West Side Story, a beautiful musical, both on screen and on stage, has a long history of taking the public by storm, both as a wonderful Broadway stage hit (although I admittedly found the more up-to-date Broadway stage revival of West Side Story somewhat mediocre in many ways.), and as a beautifully spectacular, well-created and well-done movie, to boot.

While I see the merits of re-creating West Side Story in many different ways for stage productions of this musical, I feel that, regarding a re-make of the film version of West Side Story (and, with rare exceptions), the remaking of films, generally, that Hollywood has clearly run out of creative ideas, which is why so many films are being re-made and/or are having sequel after sequel added to them.

Having said the above, I am totally against the idea of a re-make of the film version of West Side Story for the following reasons:

A) The beauty of the film version of West Side Story is not only the fact that it was kept as a larger-than-lifesized piece of theatre, but was proof that films (at least back then) could be, and were made without too much explicit sex,as well as a minimum amount of graphic-ness. With the exception of afew racial and ethnic epitats during the pre-Rumble war council between the Jets and the Sharks, the film West Side Story is without the constant "blue" language that're all too prevalent in many, if not most films that're coming out nowadays. As a person who's no stranger to "blue" language,and therefore not bothered by it, however, I say that "blue" language would be totally inappropriate for something such as West Side Story, either on stage or on screen.

B) A re-make of the film West Side Story would more than likely include a rendition of the musical score that's much more hip-hop and rap-like, which would be totally inappropriate for such a musical.

C) The romance scenes with Bernardo and Anita, as well as with Tony and Maria, would be way steamier and much more explicitly sexual.

D) The playground fighting scenes between the Jets and Sharks would be even more violent and graphic. Much more "blue" language would be expressed, and the prejudices between the Jets and Sharks, as well as the cops' attitudes towards both gangs would be much more overtly hostile.

E) Given the fact that, in many parts of the United States, police departments have become so militarized, and police actions and behaviors have been so totally out of control, especially in poorer communities and non-white communities, efforts on the part of the cops to break up the playground fighting scenes between the Jets and Sharks would be far more violent, and deadly.

F) The Rumble scene would've been much, much bloodier and more graphic, because the Jets and Sharks would be using Glock 21's and AK-47's, or other automatic assault rifles, or handguns, rather than fisticuffs and switchblade knives, and more gang members on either side would be seriously injured or killed.

G) The deaths of Riff, Tony and Bernardo would've been much, much bloodier, as well.

F) The hints of reconciliation would've been totally taken out of this great film, as well, which would defeat the whole purpose of a musical/movie such as West Side Story, giving it a whole different message.

G) A re-make of the film West Side Story would undoubtedly be a piece of junk that would go over like a lead balloon; inotherwords, not very well.

Having said all of the above, as with most classics, and especially movie musicals, and West Side Story, in particular, there's absolutely nothing that beats the original. This is particularly true of West Side Story because this venerable old movie/musical is a classic that's in a special class by itself, if one gets the drift. All told, I believe that the film version of West Side Story has a special magic all of its own, it is what it is, and should absolutely be left alone!

Mr. Spielberg, if you're out there listening in, please do not mess with a classic! The fact that the film West Side Story won ten Academy Awards, including Best Picture, is highly indicative of its success as a classic film. I realize that, like tons of other people (myself included, of course. West Side Story is my all time favorite movie, hands down!), you've got great affection for this classic film, but if your affection for the film West Side Story is that great, why not just leave it alone and gravitate to something else? That, imho, would be the best way for you to show your affection for this great classic.

All of the above having been said, a re-make of the film version of West Side Story, by anybody, including Steve Spielberg, would be a disaster, because it would just cut the heart and soul right out of this great, venerable old classic.