Opinion: What the new Spielberg “West Side Story” gets right

Posted on: December 16, 2021

“Steven Spielberg’s reimagined West Side Story … is strikingly original and acute in its updated cultural awareness, while at the same time paying homage to the show’s original creators: Leonard Bernstein’s score, the lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, and the choreography of Jerome Robbins,” writes Jim Farber in Monday’s (12/13) San Francisco Classical Voice. “As in the 1961 film, the opening shot is a bird’s-eye view looking down at derelict blocks of brick tenements. But … the neighborhood is not just decrepit, it’s under demolition, victim of a wave of gentrification. Then the camera pans up revealing a shimmering rendering of the future that will rise from the rubble—the theaters of Lincoln Center.… For Spielberg and [screenplay writer Tony] Kushner, it is a past that mirrors so many issues of today: systemic racial injustice, poverty, immigration, wealth disparity, gender prejudice, gun violence, and repressive policing. The irony … is that … Lincoln Center became the conducting home of Leonard Bernstein and the New York Philharmonic…. The New York Philharmonic was also chosen to record the new movie’s score, conducted by Gustavo Dudamel…. You will find yourself rediscovering the wonders of West Side Story in this new version.”