Steven Spielberg on reimagining ‘West Side Story’

Los Angeles, March 18 (IANS) Filmmaker Steven Spielberg says that he wanted to make a film on the battle against xenophobia and racial prejudice.

That’s the reason he decided to reimagine the musical “West Side Story” for the big screen.

“‘West Side Story’ was actually the first piece of popular music our family ever allowed into the home. I absconded with it — this was the cast album from the 1957 Broadway musical — and just fell completely in love with it as a kid. ‘West Side Story’ has been that one haunting temptation that I have finally given in to,” Spielberg told Vanity Fair.

The classic New York tale tells the story of two lovers — Maria, a Puerto Rican, whose brother Bernardo is the leader of the “Sharks” street gang and Tony, a former leader of “The Jets”, who battled The Sharks.

Maria will be played by Rachel Zegler, while “Baby Driver” actor Ansel Elgort will star as Tony. The first looks of the 20th Century Studios distributed film were released recently.

The film, slated to release in December, is both a romance and a crime story. It is a story of street gangs, racism, and violence in the shadows of rising skyscrapers.

“This story is not only a product of its time, but that time has returned, and it’s returned with a kind of social fury,” Spielberg said, adding: “I really wanted to tell that Puerto Rican, Nuyorican experience of basically the migration to this country and the struggle to make a living, and to have children, and to battle against the obstacles of xenophobia and racial prejudice.”