Friday, 17 December 2021

“West Side Story” 2021

Some brief notes on Steven Spielberg’s adaptation of the Broadway musical and remake of the 1961 movie.
 I don’t have much to say about the alleged cinematic artistry of Spielberg, nor how I feel about his Disneyfication of West Side Story; the movie is exactly what you’d expect to come from Spielberg in 2021, and for some viewers that will be as pleasurable as it was tedious for me.

I went into the movie – and happily sat through its 156-minute run-time – because of my deep and abiding love for the music of Leonard Bernstein, and, for all of my fellow-admirers, this effort is no disappointment. West Side Story was a music triumph at its premiere, in 1957, and has gelatinised, in the most gratifying way, into a sterling classic, both in the worlds of musical theatre and classical music. I’m glad to hear that I’m not alone in thinking of Bernstein’s music as among the great achievements of American composers in the 20th century, and I was heartened to find that, as much as I didn’t enjoy what Spielberg was bringing to the work, I didn’t mind enduring it, because each time a song began in the movie, I sat with a large literal smile beaming all the way to the end.