Tonight, it all starts! In the world of Hollywood remakes, reboots, and rip-offs, it’s about time that West Side Story got a much-needed and deserved replay. With the original film version of the Broadway hit released in 1961, there was plenty of room for improvement and innovation for the 60th anniversary.
When you think of the greatest storytellers of all time, the top ten list would almost certainly be William Shakespeare, the author of Romeo & Juliet, and Steven Spielberg, who directed and co-produced. Put those two together, and you have what can only be a powerhouse of potential. The adaptation of Shakespeare’s classic hits theaters on December 10, but where can you watch it? West Side Story for free?
West Side Story (1961)
Released on October 18, 1961, through United Artists, the film received critical acclaim from critics and viewers and became the highest-grossing film of 1961. It was nominated for eleven Academy Awards and won ten, including Best Picture (in addition to a particular movie). Award for Robbins), becoming the record holder for the most wins for a musical.
Two teenage gangs compete for power on New York City’s Upper West Side in the 1950s. The Jets, a white team led by the Riff, fight the Sharks, a group of Puerto Ricans led by Bernardo. After the police break up, the Jets decide to challenge the Sharks to a rumble after an upcoming dance. Caught in the middle are lovers Tony, co-founder of the Jets, and Maria, sister of the leader of the sharks.
West Side Story is considered one of the greatest music films. As a result, the film has been deemed “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” by the Library of Congress and was selected for safekeeping in the United States National Film Registry in 1997.
West Side Story (202)
It’s been sixty years since the original movie hit theaters, meaning Spielberg’s West Side Story is understandably different and fit for the 21st century. In an interview with Collider ahead of the film’s December 2021 release, Spielberg admitted that he and screenwriter Kushner paid “surgical attention” to every scene in this adaptation.
“Each scene is a small building block, like a string of pearls,” he said. “I don’t think there was a scene that we didn’t pay surgical attention to. Tony was also very open to any new ideas the actors might have and another way to do the scene. There was one scene in particular, and I’m not going to say what the scene was, that 32 were rewritten.”
The effort paid off; Roger Ebert had this to say: “There’s so much beauty in this” West Side Story. It combines things that shaped pop culture, from Spielberg’s graceful precision to Sondheim & Bernstein’s masterful songwriting to Tony Kushner’s brilliant writing to this country’s immigrant experience. It grabs you from the start and takes you there. Somehow, sometime, somewhere.”
Can you watch it for free?
West Side Story will have an entire forty-five-day run in theaters. This means that unless you have a friend who works at the theater to get you in for free, you have to pay to watch. That also means you can expect it on your streaming service around the end of January.
Due to an ongoing deal with HBO Max to share co-exclusive rights to all 20th Century Fox movies, we may see West Side Story also on that streamer. So while it’s unlikely you’ll be able to watch it for free on day one like the rest of HBO Max’s theatrical releases, it’ll still be a place you can sing along.
Are you excited to see this remake? How many songs can you sing along to? Are you going to see it in theaters, or are you waiting to watch it for free on a streaming service? Let us know in the comments below!