Spielberg's WEST SIDE STORY is NOT a remake

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That is the claim made in this Variety article. "The new Spielberg film is a direct adaptation of the original Broadway musical of the same name, not a remake of the Robert Wise-directed 1961 film." Sorry but that makes no sense!



https://variety.com/2019/film/news/west-side-story-ariana-debose-anita-steven-spielberg-1203266883/

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Well, this was clearly known from the moment this adaptation was first announced: that screenwriter Tony Kushner was adapting the original 1957 Broadway production’s book. Never once was it ever hinted that Spielberg was remaking the 1961 film adaptation.

If anyone was confused, that’s their own assumption as it was clearly stated in every interview and press release that this new film was using the 1957 Broadway production’s book as it’s source. The only modification mentioned was changing the character of Doc to Valentina for Executive Producer (and Oscar winner for the 1961 film adaptation) Rita Moreno to participate in the new film.

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It’s just marketing language to try to stifle the questions of “why would you remake a masterpiece.” It doesn’t really mean anything, and in the end there will probably be more similarities than differences between the 2 films. I guess the same could be said about Bette Midler’s Gypsy vs Roz Russell’s.

Spielberg knows the camera better than anyone and I’m excited to see what he does with this.
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It will be interesting to see if the Spielberg/Kushner version keeps the swap of Krupke and Cool. 

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That's all Hollywood PR bull**** and nothing more.  The 1961 WSS was adapted from the 1957 stage show, as will be the 2020 WSS, which means the 2020 version is a remake, period.  The makers of the REMAKE want to avoid comparisons to the 1961 classic as much as possible, so the PR machinery is now in full Spin mode.  Sondheim is cooperating with Spielberg as well, and he hates the 1961 film (he thinks Tim Burton's take on 'Sweeney Todd' is a far superior film.....yeah, right).  Saying the new version is not a remake could also be an appeasement to Sondheim.  Spin, spin, spin.

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It’s not necessarily marketing spin.

We’ll have to wait to see if there was anything from the original screenplay in either dialogue or structure that made its way into this script. If there wasn’t anything taken uniquely from that screenplay (and indeed they rejected the changes made from the original musical’s book) than its safe to say it’s not an adaptation of the screenplay.

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AADA81 said: "That's all Hollywood PR bull**** and nothing more. The 1961 WSS was adapted from the 1957 stage show, as will be the 2020 WSS, which means the 2020 version is a remake, period. The makers of the REMAKE want to avoid comparisons to the 1961 classic as much as possible, so the PR machinery is now in full Spin mode. Sondheim is cooperating with Spielberg as well, and he hates the 1961 film (he thinks Tim Burton's take on 'Sweeney Todd' is a far superior film.....yeah, right). Saying the new version is not a remake could also be an appeasement to Sondheim. Spin, spin, spin."

It was my impression that Spielberg thinks the 1961 film does not work as a film - not that he "hates" it.  He thinks it is too much like a stage presentation and not a film. "I don’t think West Side Story’s a good movie at all because it’s not a movie. It’s a photograph of a stage. When I see a gang of juvenile delinquents dancing down a real street, Broadway, in color coordinated sneakers, with color coordinated wash on the line behind them, I’m not scared." Sondheim on WSS film According to that article, Sondheim thinks Burton's Sweeney Todd is a better a film, because Burton treated it as a film, and not a presentation of a stage show. 

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BJR said: "It’s not necessarily marketing spin.

We’ll have to wait to see if there was anything from the original screenplay in either dialogue or structure that made its way into this script. If there wasn’t anything taken uniquely from that screenplay (and indeed they rejected the changes made from the original musical’s book) than its safe to say it’s not an adaptation of the screenplay.


Having seen both movie and show too many times (I am officially tired of it), I guess that I am not a detailed enough person to have noted anything different between the two (beyond what cinema offers via use of camera and stage offers by being live in person there), and I doubt the movie going public will.  Those who love the WSS movie will note all the different choices that Spielberg makes (I am hoping it will look more real...other than the opening number and a few minutes here and there, the rest of the movie is so obviously bound to a sound stage that it never felt real to me...even if it is a musical.

I am always amazed and impressed at the ability of some posters on this board to detect the smallest changes in shows, e.g., when talking about what appear to be pretty minor changes made to Moulin Rouge since Boston.  I rarely do, unless they are significant, e.g., I have seen 3 versions of Neverland in which the first 20 minutes are drastically different...that I saw).  I don't think most people would notice more minor changes (like 99.9% of the viewing public).

 

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I really hope they do the movie version of America. The musical’s is fine, but the film version is in my opinion, superior in every way.
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Spielberg's WEST SIDE STORY is NOT a remake#10
Posted: 7/15/19 at 12:13pm

it is inconceivable to me that anyone ever thought that Spielberg and Kushner would not be working off the source material. what this screen version will have in common with the earlier screen version is that they share the same source material. That's it.

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Spielberg's WEST SIDE STORY is NOT a remake#11
Posted: 7/15/19 at 12:16pm
I’ll know Spielberg's is a true adaptation of the ‘57 original stage show if I finally see the Act II ballet to “Somewhere” on film. Swapping Cool back to Act I with Officer Krupke reverting to Act II would also prove it. Both would improve the film for me.
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Spielberg's WEST SIDE STORY is NOT a remake#12
Posted: 7/15/19 at 12:28pm

Someone in a Tree2 said: "I’ll know Spielberg's is a true adaptation of the ‘57 original stage show if I finally see the Act II ballet to “Somewhere” on film. Swapping Cool back to Act I with Officer Krupke reverting to Act II would also prove it. Both would improve the film for me."

who said it was going to be a "true adaptation"? 

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Spielberg's WEST SIDE STORY is NOT a remake#13
Posted: 7/15/19 at 12:51pm

I’m one of the few who prefers the stage version of America, I feel adding the men diminishes Anita’s presence in the number. If they are basing this more on the original stage show, I cant imagine they’d use the 1961 film version of the number.

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Spielberg's WEST SIDE STORY is NOT a remake#14
Posted: 7/15/19 at 12:53pm

ggersten said: "AADA81 said: "That's all Hollywood PR bull**** and nothing more. The 1961 WSS was adapted from the 1957 stage show, as will be the 2020 WSS, which means the 2020 version is a remake, period. The makers of the REMAKE want to avoid comparisons to the 1961 classic as much as possible, so the PR machinery is now in full Spin mode. Sondheim is cooperating with Spielberg as well, and he hates the 1961 film (he thinks Tim Burton's take on 'Sweeney Todd' is a far superior film.....yeah, right). Saying the new version is not a remake could also be an appeasement to Sondheim. Spin, spin, spin."

It was my impression that Spielberg thinks the 1961 film does not work as a film - not that he "hates" it. He thinks it is too much like a stage presentation and not a film. "I don’t thinkWest Side Story’s a good movie at all because it’s not a movie. It’s a photograph of a stage. When I see a gang of juvenile delinquents dancing down a real street, Broadway, in color coordinated sneakers, with color coordinated wash on the line behind them, I’m not scared." Sondheim on WSS filmAccording to that article, Sondheim thinks Burton's Sweeney Todd is a better a film, because Burton treated it as a film, and not a presentation of a stage show.
"

Sorry, ggersten, for my clumsily worded post.  I was saying that Sondheim hates the 1961 film, not Spielberg.  I should have worded it more clearly.  I don't agree with Spielberg at all that the original is just a photograph of a stage.  Some of the acting is stagy and of its era, but numbers like 'Prologue', 'America', 'Dance at the Gym', 'Cool' and 'Quintet' are very cinematic and fairly jump off the screen.  As for Sondheim, he rarely misses an opportunity to trash WSS if he can (he dislikes his lyrics) so I wouldn't put much stock in what he says.  I mean, 'Sweeney Todd' is a much better film than 'West Side Story'?  COME ON!!!!

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AADA81 said: "ggersten said: "AADA81 said: "That's all Hollywood PR bull**** and nothing more. The 1961 WSS was adapted from the 1957 stage show, as will be the 2020 WSS, which means the 2020 version is a remake, period. The makers of the REMAKE want to avoid comparisons to the 1961 classic as much as possible, so the PR machinery is now in full Spin mode. Sondheim is cooperating with Spielberg as well, and he hates the 1961 film (he thinks Tim Burton's take on 'Sweeney Todd' is a far superior film.....yeah, right). Saying the new version is not a remake could also be an appeasement to Sondheim. Spin, spin, spin."

It was my impression that Spielberg thinks the 1961 film does not work as a film - not that he "hates" it. He thinks it is too much like a stage presentation and not a film. "I don’t thinkWest Side Story’s a good movie at all because it’s not a movie. It’s a photograph of a stage. When I see a gang of juvenile delinquents dancing down a real street, Broadway, in color coordinated sneakers, with color coordinated wash on the line behind them, I’m not scared." Sondheim on WSS filmAccording to that article, Sondheim thinks Burton's Sweeney Todd is a better a film, because Burton treated it as a film, and not a presentation of a stage show.
"

Sorry, ggersten, for my clumsily worded post. I was saying that Sondheim hates the 1961 film, not Spielberg. I should have worded it more clearly. I don't agree with Spielberg at all that the original is just a photograph of a stage. Some of the acting is stagy and of its era, but numbers like 'Prologue', 'America', 'Dance at the Gym', 'Cool' and 'Quintet' are very cinematic and fairly jump off the screen. As for Sondheim, he rarely misses an opportunity to trash WSS if he can (he dislikes his lyrics) so I wouldn't put much stock in what he says. I mean, 'Sweeney Todd' is a much better film than 'West Side Story'? COME ON!!!!
"

Oops. I was clumsy too. I did read you as saying Sondheim hates the 1961 film, but I typed in Spielberg - when I meant to be quoting Sondheim's comments. My bad - sorry.  

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Yes, very hard to understand the point of the post, ggersten.  Spielberg loves Robert Wise and he would never say the original West Side Story was a photographed play because it absolutely was NOT that at all.  It is completely designed as a film complete with its artifices.  

As others have pointed out, the original is based on the stage show, as this one will be.  They've already made a significant change from the stage show with Doc, so we'll just see what other changes are made.

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bk said: "Yes, very hard to understand the point of the post, ggersten. Spielberg loves Robert Wise and he would never say the original West Side Story was a photographed play because it absolutely was NOT that at all. It is completely designed as a film complete with its artifices.

As others have pointed out, the original is based on the stage show, as this one will be. They've already made a significant change from the stage show with Doc, so we'll just see what other changes are made.
"

I agree re: the original WSS.  Also, I would expect ANY remake of anything would go to the original source material.  The 1961 film was those filmmakers' version of WSS.  I fully expected the new version to be the 2020 filmmakers' version of original source material, not a remake of the Robert Wise/Jerome Robbins version.

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Sondheim is seriously delusional about Burton's film of SWEENEY TODD.

Johnny Depp is better than I expected, but Helena Bonham Carter is too enervated to have ever gotten a pie shop going, even with free meat!

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GavestonPS said: "Sondheim is seriously delusional about Burton's film of SWEENEY TODD.

Johnny Depp is better than I expected, but Helena Bonham Carter is too enervated to have ever gotten a pie shop going, even with free meat!
"

Sondheim stated in an interview that he thought WSS was the worst film adaptation of any of his shows (including Liz Taylor's 'A Little Night Music'!!!) and that 'Sweeney Todd' was the best.  Delusional?  Why, the man's psychotic.

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While Tim Burton’s Sweeney Todd isn’t without value, I’m not a fan. Johnny Depp gives a good performance, but he can’t properly sing the role. While I give him credit for doing his best to act around his inability to sing, I’d have preferred to just have an actor who can sing it instead. Helena Bonham Carter (who I believe is a genuinely talented actress) meanwhile, completely fails at both acting and singing Mrs. Lovett. She was just hopelessly dull and at times looked like she was bored out of her mind. That’s not even getting into her horrendously thin singing voice. What’s insane to me is that Bonham Carter admitted that they tried to make her singing sound better after she recorded, which means that her actual untouched singing is somehow even worse than what we heard in the film. I also really didn’t appreciate just how much the score was torn apart, with so few songs left in the movie that weren’t cut down. Sondheim’s original score is my all time favorite, so it really stung to hear a bastardized version that’s sung by amateurs voices.
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Hot Pants said: "While Tim Burton’s Sweeney Todd isn’t without value, I’m not a fan. Johnny Depp gives a good performance, but he can’t properly sing the role. While I give him credit for doing his best to act around his inability to sing, I’d have preferred to just have an actor who can sing it instead. Helena Bonham Carter (who I believe is a genuinely talented actress) meanwhile, completely fails at both acting and singing Mrs. Lovett. She was just hopelessly dull and at times looked like she was bored out of her mind. That’s not even getting into her horrendously thin singing voice. What’s insane to me is that Bonham Carter admitted that they tried to make her singing sound better after she recorded, which means that her actual untouched singing is somehow even worse than what we heard in the film. I also really didn’t appreciate just how much the score was torn apart, with so few songs left in the movie that weren’t cut down. Sondheim’s original score is my all time favorite, so it really stung to hear a bastardized version that’s sung by amateurs voices."

I agree with everything you said and I'll add one more: Tim Burton didn't know the first thing about directing a musical.  Songs with movement showed no one's feet; tight close-ups made it impossible at times to place actors in relation to one another; I could go on.  And he claimed he cast Bonham Carter because she was the best actress for the role and NOT because she was his main squeeze.....yeah, right!  And there's this bridge in Brooklyn I'd like to sell you.......

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AADA81 said: "GavestonPS said: "Sondheim is seriously delusional about Burton's film of SWEENEY TODD.

Johnny Depp is better than I expected, but Helena Bonham Carter is too enervated to have ever gotten a pie shop going, even with free meat!
"

Sondheim stated in an interview that he thought WSS was the worst film adaptation of any of his shows (including Liz Taylor's 'A Little Night Music'!!!) and that 'Sweeney Todd' was the best. Delusional? Why, the man's psychotic.
"

Having an opinion about adaptions of his own works makes him psychotic???

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I honestly find Helena Bonham Carter’s casting to be disrespectful. She was actually required to have a vocal audition, which means that Burton heard her truly awful singing and decided to cast her anyway. I know it’d be asking a bit too much for actors who were as good as Len Cariou and Angela Lansbury, but I just wish Burton was willing to put aside his attachment to Depp and Bonham Carter to cast performers who were actually trained singers.

Updated On: 7/15/19 at 09:26 PM
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I'm fairly certain that in a few years time Spielberg's redo of West Side Story will be thought of in the same way as  Glenn Close in South Pacific and Mathew Broderick in The Music Man.

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"Having an opinion about adaptions of his own works makes him psychotic???"

I think we're just poking fun at the fact that creators often can't see the forest for the trees in relation to their work, as articulated in Sondheim's opinion that the film version of West Side Story is worse than those of A Little Night MusicForum, or his beloved Sweeney. It also is illuminated by (most of) his recent revisions to past shows.

"Sticks and stones, sister. Here, have a Valium." - Patti LuPone, a Memoir
Updated On: 7/15/19 at 09:30 PM