'West Side Story' Has Spanish Scenes Without Subtitles 'Out of Respect'
West Side Story is Disney’s latest project, a film based on the long-running stage musical as well as the original 1961 film. Not only is the new West Side Story notable for the star-studded cast, but it has made waves for the production team as well, with legendary filmmaker Steven Spielberg acting as the film’s director and co-producer. Spielberg has opened up several times about the making of West Side Story in recent months, during the film’s press conference, Spielberg revealed why fans shouldn’t expect to see subtitles during the Spanish scenes in the movie.
Steven Spielberg directed the remake of ‘West Side Story’
The 2021 version of West Side Story has been in production for years, with Spielberg joining the project in 2018. Filming took place in 2019 and was completed by the summer of that year. But the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic ended up delaying the release of West Side Story for over a year. It was finally released to theaters in mid-December 2021, to immediate critical acclaim.
Fans and critics alike have been praising the all-new version of West Side Story for the way the film expands on the themes featured in the original stage production and the 1961 film. Not only does it include rousing musical numbers, but a tragic love story as well. It has been nominated for a slew of awards and accolades, including, according to IMDb, a Golden Globe nomination for Best Picture – Musical/Comedy and a Critic’s Choice Award nomination for Best Picture. It seems likely that it will earn recognition as one of the best films of 2021.
What did Steven Spielberg say about not including subtitles in ‘West Side Story’?
Spielberg has been open about his desire for authenticity in his reinvention of West Side Story. Therefore, in the film, Spanish is spoken onscreen without subtitles, rather than used for throwaway lines like in the original.
Spielberg admitted in the press conference for the film that he was very intentional with that choice, admitting, according to Insider, that “it was out of respect that we didn’t subtitle any of the Spanish. That language had to exist in equal proportions alongside the English with no help.”
The iconic director said that he hoped the inclusion of Spanish along with English will help to create curiosity in the minds of viewers. “”I also want the audiences, Spanish-speaking audiences, English-speaking audiences, to sit in the theater together so the English-speaking audiences will suddenly hear laughter coming from pockets of the theater from the Spanish-speaking audience,” Spielberg said.
The original ‘West Side Story’ is an iconic 1961 film
Although Spielberg’s version of West Side Story is a film for modern audiences, many viewers hold the 1961 film version in high regard. That film, which starred Natalie Wood, Richard Beymer, and Rita Moreno (who also has a role in the new 2021 film) is a rousing musical that highlights the story of two star-crossed lovers. It won numerous awards when it was released, including 10 Academy Awards.
Thanks to the popularity of West Side Story in 1961, the story gained new life on stage and has been running almost continuously ever since. These days, fans of all ages know and love the tale of Tony and Maria. There’s no doubt that Spielberg’s reinvention of the timeless story will help to introduce new viewers to West Side Story – and possibly inspire those fans to take up the study of a new language as well.
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