By Arun Sajnani
WEST SIDE STORY– It is Romeo & Juliet revisited again in the remake of the Steven Sondheim & Leonard Bernstein musical classic – “WEST SIDE STORY” by Steven Spielberg.. The old Manhattan of the late 50’s which showed the growing Puerto Rican community flourish on the Upper West Side, which is now – Lincoln Center, was being moved from that 20 block radius further up. The battle of the Irish facing the new culture of immigrants threatened their identity. But the like all neighborhoods change for the wealthy. Things have to move on.
Its a beautiful love story and is even relevant today to our new generation as well. Enough of race and religion, the movie is more than that. It is about love and respect for one another. Language and culture is an amalgamation of many things that we can gain, adopt and admire. We just have to get along.
The film shows all both sides of the fence with the Jets and the Sharks who want to establish their territory. These gangs were a part of the “West Side”. The music is still rich and lovely to hear. Spielberg’s direction is fast paced and focuses on the details with accuracy. The characters expressions are natural and believable, They will all touch your hearts.
I remember myself growing up on the Upper West Side in the 70’s in Spanish Harlem. The film brings back that bygone era to life. The clothes hanging up in the firescape. Linoleum on the kitchen floor. I remember as a child my Hispanic babysitter would stitch new dresses and suits for their children, went they had to go for a party. This has been depicted so well and real. I remember the old MTA subway trains rumbling down 72nd street. All which has been portrayed beautifully in this film.
The music, the songs, and the choreography is in sync, and is top rate. The cast is the trump card for Spielberg, with the new find Rachel Zegler, to Ansel Elgort, to Ariana Debose, and David Alvares They all deserve Oscar nominations, and they will get it. Mark my words. As Rita Moreno says to the love stricken Tony…”More than love is to learn to live your life…” will always be a hollywood classic line that I will cherish. It is a must see film over and over again. Go see it now in theaters this week.