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Steven Spielberg on West Side Story: I didn’t feel like I was violating the classic

Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story has received largely positive early reviews. In a recent conversation with filmmaker Shoojit Sircar, who has delivered realistic slice-of-life Bollywood movies, Spielberg talked about the experience of making West Side Story, as well as his inspiration behind it.

Sircar mentioned how the film was a nostalgic trip for him, as he had performed this play during his theatre days. He then asked Spielberg, “Have you come full circle as a filmmaker touching upon musicals, a genre that you have not touched before?” Spielberg responded, “This genre has been close to my life all my life. It just took West Side Story to do a musical.” He was full of admiration for the original composers of the 1957 musical.

Shoojit Sircar then asked about mixing theatre and cinema in a full-scale production. Sircar also mentioned that he was trying to make a musical but ‘didn’t have the courage’, and called Steven Spielberg fearless. Spielberg said, “I think as we get older, everyone gets more fearless. I needed to be fearless to take this on, and this was based on the Broadway musical. It will be liberally compared to the 1961 film. I didn’t feel like I was violating anything because I don’t really necessarily love remakes. I consider this an authentic and re-imagined version of the musical. I didn’t feel like I was violating the classic by telling this 2021 story.”

Sircar also said that West Side Story was a conversation, and a dialogue with the youth, as the film addressed several important issues in the world, including xenophobia. He also mentioned that the movie is also an attempt to rediscover empathy.

West Side Story stars Ansel Engort, Rachel Zegler, Maddie Zegler, Ariana DeBose and Rita Moreno among others. The film will hit screens on December 10.

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