In a word: Magnificent
The original 1961 movie version of West Side Story, directed by Jerome Robbins, won 10 Oscars. Sixty years later, the 2021 version, directed by Steven Spielberg, will likely surpass 10. It is a fabulous picture that deserves to be considered among the greatest musical/dramas of all time.
Sadly, the big screen theaters will likely be disappointing as the movie makers and movie fans these days are watching such films on at-home large screens. The Covid19 infestation may have much to do with that. I would still urge reluctant movie-goers to give the big screen version of this epic a viewing of the real thing. West Side Story deserves that.
Among the biggest stories of the 2021 version, is Spielberg’s utter genius in reaching out the virtually thousands of young actors/singers in assembling the very best cast possible. More often than not, youngsters who won a part in the movie had little background in show biz.
The major star playing the principal role of Maria, was plucked from a plethora of some 30,000 wannabees in an effort to cast the very best of the best. New to the movie industry, that role went to Miss Rachel Zegler, now age twenty. (Remember that name) Not only is Miss Zegler simple and beautiful, she has many natural elements needed in such an important role. Besides that, she has a pure and natural singing voice. No doubt, we will be seeing a lot of her in her movie career.
Interesting to note, in the 1961 version, the primary singers, such as Natalie Wood, did not actually sing because their voices were dubbed. In the 2021 version, the voices were not dubbed.
The full cast roughly included 30 street-gang players, some adult roles, all too many to include in a brief review. However, we must tip our hat to one star who appears in both versions of the movie, sixty years separated. That would be Rita Moreno, who won an Oscar for best supporting actress in 1961. In the new version, she plays Valentina, an elder woman who interacts with the young Hispanics of New York City’s “West Side.” And, she also sings.
Special credits are owed to other players as well, one being Ansel Elgort, age 27, who wonderfully plays Tony, the “Gringo” with whom the star, Maria, has fallen in love. Another powerful actress emerged from the cast who we will surely see more often in the future. Ariana Debose plays a voluptuous Puerto Rican teen whose energy is second to none.
How will the awards be doled out from this movie? Very generous I suspect. Best director, best musical score, best set design, best acting in lead roles and supporting roles, best costumes, best cinematography, best sound, and et al. We’ll know on March 27, 2022.
Plenty of trivia, for fans interested. For example: This is Rachel Zegler’s first film role. Stephen Spielberg credits her as the greatest Maria he’s ever witnessed.
For more trivia in “West Side Story” click on link below.