Spielberg has certainly made an impressive resume that has now gotten larger with his new film West Side Story having been released just a few months ago. It was originally supposed to be released in December 2020 but was delayed for a year after COVID-19 put the film industry in somewhat of a rut.
The film revolves around a group of caucasians (The Jets) that went to war with the Latinos (The Sharks). However, that all changed when Tony, a member of the Jets, was released out on parole and fell in love with a young Hispanic girl named Maria, which caused a rift between the two racial groups, eventually resulting in a race war.
Here is why West Side Story proves that remakes can also be great.
Disclaimer: This article reflects the author’s views.
Why 'West Side Story' can make future remakes great
Authenticity may be key
One thing that the original West Side Story failed to achieve was its portrayal of Hispanics. In the 1961 version of the film, Natalie Wood’s character Maria was whitewashed and failed to gain the authenticity of the Latino culture.
On many occasions, the Latino cast speaks fluent Spanish, leaving the audience to work out and fill in the gaps in the context of the movie, adding a level of believability to engage its Hispanic audience.
A lot doesn't need change
The strange part about this remake is that very little changes. Many critics have had issues with Disney remakes that criticize its carbon copy, cut-and-paste techniques of the original movie. West Side Story is technically the same as the carbon copy remake that so many other studios pump out that add very little to the legacy of the original.
Luckily, this remake is comfortable in playing it safe. It is a calmed-down movie that didn’t need to take too many risks whereas it seems that other remakes were held to a higher standard than that of this film.
It stuck true to the original
Like that last reason, it stuck with the source material of the original. Of course, the actual source material was William Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet, with a more modern edge within its story. It would go without saying that a remake would almost be required to remain somewhat true to its original.
This remake made for a great story that was able to use its original as a perfect foundation, which is probably why it received critical acclaim, despite its box-office failings..