West Side Story (1961)

During the course of this week, we are talking about adaptations of Romeo and Juliet, and we continue the discussion by talking about West Side Story. West Side Story changed a few things from our the original telling such as instead of fair Verona where we lay our scene we are placed in New York.

Granted, also when we look at Romeo and Juliet we are as writers never told why the Capulets and the Montagues are fighting, whereas in West Side Story we are given a true reason for why the two groups (Jets and Sharks) are really fighting, which is race. The race between white Americans (Jets) and the immigrated Porterigans (Sharks).

Furthermore, the stage is set where instead of lines are just spoken we get a musical telling of the story. Granted, all the characters names have been changed and certain facts of the story are changed as well, such as our dearly Romeo, who is named Tony, dies and our fair Juliet, who is named Maria, lives but must mourn the loss of Tony.

There are other parts of the story that were changed for a more modern telling but even more so given what I stated in yesterday’s post that when adaptations are being made look at the times in which they are being made. The reason why I restate this comment is that they are discussing of re-making West Side Story now given the current climate of discussions in terms of immigration isn’t this a perfect time to be remaking West Side Story? I would say yes, but we all know that the adaptation would not be the same as the original, which will be the downside of the film for it will be judged against the original film. I enjoyed West Side Story, but I think that it will be interesting to see how things are adapted for a more modern version of the tale.

Tomorrow, I will be discussing the more outrageous adaptation of Romeo and Juliet and it came out in the late ’90’s.

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