A new film version of the favorite American musical West Side Story opened in cinemas around the world on Friday. Director Steven Spielberg used Latin actors to play Puerto Rican characters on which the story is based.
This did not happen in the case spill for the 1957 Broadway musical or 1961 film of the same name. Only one actress in the film was Latin: Rita Moreno, who played Anita. She won an Oscar for her performance. The film received another nine Oscars.
Like these productions, however, this new film is also based on the tragic love story of William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet. West side The Story features two rival groups of teens in New York: the Jets are Puerto Rican, the Sharks are white. Jet Maria and Shark Tony fall in love, increasing animosity and mistrust between and within their teams.
Spielberg spent more than a year looking for his cast. His search went beyond the United States to Latin America and Australia. Twenty of the actors in the film are of Puerto Rican or Puerto Rican descent.
“I wanted to drop it authentic“to ensure that the actors playing Shark’s boys and girls were 100 percent Latino and young,” Spielberg said.
Rita Moreno is also in the cast. And he helped produce the film.
This time Moreno plays Valentina, a new part that replaces the original character of the owner of the Doc store.
“A huge step forward”
Latins are the largest minority in the United States, accounting for 19 percent of the population. Numerous studies show that the group is largely under-represented in film and television.
Actress-dancer Ariana DeBose, who plays Anita in the new film, praised Spielberg’s work for “integrity.”
“He uses his own privilege to say, well, if I can do it, everyone can, and respect the culture… “, said Debose.
Rich stories are created for each character in the new West Side Story. The film uses English and Spanish. The screenwriter of the new film, Tony Kouchner, said that Spanish “should have been equal proportions in parallel with English “.
Spielberg talked about people watching the movie together in public. He said he hoped “English-speaking public he will suddenly hear laughter from pockets of theater by the Spanish-speaking public “.
David Alvarez plays Bernardo, the leader of the Sharks. He called the casting effort “a huge step forward.”
Alvarez said in 2021 West Side Story and On high level, another recent musical with a large Latino cast, are signs that the United States, in Alvarez’s words, “is beginning to realize that the Latino community here is much larger and recognizes us.”
“It’s beautiful to see that we are finally taking a step forward … We are here, we want to be part of America, we want to integrate into this society,” Alvarez said.
I’m Caty Weaver.
Lucila Sigal told this story to the Associated Press. Jr. Caty Weaver adapted it for VOA Learning English. Susan Shand was the author.
Words in this story
character – n. a person appearing in a story, book, play, movie, or TV show
spill – n. the act or event of selecting actors for theatrical productions
authentic – adv. is done in a true and accurate way
integrity – n. the quality of being honest and fair
privilege –n. a right or benefit given to some people and not to others
rate –n. the relationship between the size, number or quantity of two things
audience – n. a group of people who gather to listen to something (like a concert) or watch something (like a movie or a game): people watching a show
pocket – n. a small area or group that is different from the larger area or group to or near – usually + of
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