From my movie review in Taki’s Magazine comparing Steven Spielberg’s remake of West Side Story to the 1961 film:
When You’re a Remake
December 15, 2021
… Mostly, Spielberg’s West Side Story is similar to the one released when he was 14. But in the interest of tracking the unfolding zeitgeist, here are changes he oversaw:
Spielberg’s big brainstorm for luring in the heavily Hispanic young audience is to keep Bernstein’s magnificent music and even double down on the 1957 setting with added dialogue about Manhattan real estate, but to replace the gay stage violence with straight movie violence. Hence, Justin Peck’s choreography is highly Robbins-like, but butches it up with less toe-pointing.
Also, Spielberg and his screenwriter Tony Kushner (Angels in America and Spielberg’s Lincoln) resolved to reduce the problematic elements by eliminating the original film’s outdatedly evenhanded treatment of the two gangs of juvenile delinquents, the white Jets and the Puerto Rican Sharks. Just as Shakespeare didn’t take sides between the Montagues and Capulets, the 1961 film portrays the two groups as rumbling over turf because that’s what young males like to do.
Today, though, objectivity like that is felt to be immoral. You can now tell who deserves to win and who deserves to lose from the color of their skin. So, Spielberg and Kushner make clear that the Sharks and Jets fight because the browns are the good guys and the whites are the bad guys.
The Sharks are no longer even juvenile delinquents, but instead are grown men with jobs and families defending their graffiti-free vibrant community from the nihilistic Trumpist Jets.
But this means the Sharks don’t seem very cool anymore. …
Read the whole thing there.
And here’s Norm Macdonald attempting to lead a dancing street gang: