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Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story (2021)


mrbellamy
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I think David Newman is being robbed of credit here. He's doing SOMETHING right? He's not just compiling cue sheets for Dudamel to conduct. Arrangement is a big job. They used to give out an Oscar for arrangement of music in musicals. We know Newman got the job because Williams passed. Had Williams taked the job, you bet your ass he would have been on the poster.

 

It's a little bit bizzare.

 

Also surprised that Elgort is billed over Zwegler. It is her movie more or less. Natalie Wood had star billing for the original. I thought if their goal was to promote diversity and inclusion with this film they would do the same.

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Being credited on a poster as top/main billing is a matter of deals and agreements, so don't jump to conclusions too fast. I'm more than sure that Dave is going to be credited clearly during the main/end credits in the movie.

 

From what I heard, he did most of his work during the rehearsals/pre-recordings and arranged some of Bernstein's score as underscore for some scenes. Conducting was all Dudamel. The film is using the original Broadway 1951 orchestrations for the most part, btw (pit orchestra of 30-ish elements).

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6 minutes ago, TheUlyssesian said:

I think David Newman is being robbed of credit here. He's doing SOMETHING right? He's not just compiling cue sheets for Dudamel to conduct. Arrangement is a big job. They used to give out an Oscar for arrangement of music in musicals. We know Newman got the job because Williams passed. Had Williams taked the job, you bet your ass he would have been on the poster.

 

I agree with TheUlyssesian 100%

 

 

 

6 minutes ago, TheUlyssesian said:

Also surprised that Elgort is billed over Zwegler. It is her movie more or less. Natalie Wood had star billing for the original. I thought if their goal was to promote diversity and inclusion with this film they would do the same.

 

Crediting isn't based on what they want to promote or anything like that, it's entirely based on the contracts that the agents negotiate.  Elgort was already an established star when cast so of course he gets top billing.  Zegler getting an "and introducing" credit instead of just being the next name next to his is actually really good for her

 

 

Just now, TownerFan said:

 The film is using the original Broadway 1951 orchestrations for the most part, btw (pit orchestra of 30-ish elements).

 

1957

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1 hour ago, TownerFan said:

The film is using the original Broadway 1951 orchestrations for the most part, btw (pit orchestra of 30-ish elements).

 

Is this confirmed? I find this unlikely for some reason.

 

A 30 strong orchestra is going to sound thin.

 

Spielberg is used to big orchestral JW scores even for his non-musical scores. Will he skimp out on his only musical ever?

 

I think most modern musicals have a big dense orchestral sound. So I still want to hear how this sounds to see if its truly a 30 something Broadway orchestra pit kinda sound.

 

The movie cost 100 mil. 

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11 minutes ago, TheUlyssesian said:

Is this confirmed? I find this unlikely for some reason.

 

A 30 strong orchestra is going to sound thin.

 

Spielberg is used to big orchestral JW scores even for his non-musical scores. Will he skimp out on his only musical ever?

 

I think most modern musicals have a big dense orchestral sound. So I still want to hear how this sounds to see if its truly a 30 something Broadway orchestra pit kinda sound.

 

The movie cost 100 mil. 

 

Well, you can hear "America" in the video I posted.  Does it sound like a 30 piece orchestra in that clip, or a bigger one?

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19 minutes ago, Disco Stu said:

They are putting Dudamel front and center for the music credit because he is Latino.  Not trying to be political, but that's obviously why.

 

Er, hasn't he been a name in the industry already? Apparently it's been a thing for a some classical projects to highlight the conductor over the composer for marketing purposes, which has oddly carried over on digital releases of some older film scores. That's more on the albums released than the actual marketing itself though, so I'm just going to assume Dudamel simply would stand out more to the average person than Newman unfortunately.

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29 minutes ago, Jay said:

 

Well, you can hear "America" in the video I posted.  Does it sound like a 30 piece orchestra in that clip, or a bigger one?

 

I don't trust music in trailers. Even for musicals, they are very unrepresentative of what is in the movie. Trailer sound is almost always souped up I feel regardless of how it will sound in the movie. I think the only true indicator would be how the music sounds in the movie. Even album can be souped up.

 

Recent example - Memory in Cats. In the trailer it is featured as a soaring belting sweeping rendition with drums and choir backing while in the movie it is drowned in simpering and phlegm. 

 

 

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4 minutes ago, HunterTech said:

 

Er, hasn't he been a name in the industry already? Apparently it's been a thing for a some classical projects to highlight the conductor over the composer for marketing purposes, which has oddly carried over on digital releases of some older film scores. That's more on the albums released than the actual marketing itself though, so I'm just going to assume Dudamel simply would stand out more to the average person than Newman unfortunately.

 

Oh for sure he's a big name in the classical world and well deserved!  I'm a big fan of both Dudamel and the LA Phil.  I guess I should say a big reason he was hired in the first place is because he is the big Latino name in that area so I'm saying I think he was hired with at least an eye towards the optics of using him in marketing.  This is not me making any "Political correctness gone mad!" or "Affirmative action!" claims, it's just the reality in my view.

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2 minutes ago, Disco Stu said:

 

Oh for sure he's a big name in the classical world and well deserved!  I'm a big fan of both Dudamel and the LA Phil.  I guess I should say a big reason he was hired in the first place is because he is the big Latino name in that area so I'm saying I think he was hired with at least an eye towards the optics of using him in marketing.  This is not me making any "Political correctness gone mad!" or "Affirmative action!" claims, it's just the reality in my view.

 

You are not wrong in the slightest and let's be honest about this movie's raise de etre - reason for existing.

 

By all accounts the 1961 version is a cinematic classic - a magnificent movie with superb music and dancing and staging and design and decor and everything. Mega box office hit and critically acclaimed and swept the academy awards. 

 

Can it be improved upon? Why is it being remade? For a single reason? To bring more of a Latino element in - in terms of casting etc.

 

The movie's very own professed reason for even existing is to highlight the Latino element. So it is not besides the point to speculate that this is why Dudamel received top billing.

 

This isn't a political post this is just an acknowledgement of why the film is even being made because honestly who even asked for this film. 

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3 minutes ago, TheUlyssesian said:

This isn't a political post this is just an acknowledgement of why the film is even being made because honestly who even asked for this film. 

 

Of course if Spielberg asked me "What should I be working on?" my personal answer would obviously be "You should only make true stories about American history from now until you die." But once he decided to make West Side Story, I am very interested in seeing it just to see how Spielberg makes a musical.  It of course helps that I love the music itself and do not think the original is untouchable.

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50 minutes ago, TheUlyssesian said:

Is this confirmed? I find this unlikely for some reason.

 

A 30 strong orchestra is going to sound thin.

 

Spielberg is used to big orchestral JW scores even for his non-musical scores. Will he skimp out on his only musical ever?

 

But the original musical orchestration is what Bernstein wrote, right? Wasn't he unhappy with the arrangements made for the Wise film? And pretty much nobody at all is happy with Bernstein's own 80s opera style recording. So going back to the original version makes sense, doesn't it?

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1 minute ago, Marian Schedenig said:

And pretty much nobody at all is happy with Bernstein's own 80s opera style recording.

 

Sorry, count me as one of the weirdos who loves it.  Carreras singing "Maria" is one of the greatest achievements of Western civilization

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1 minute ago, Disco Stu said:

 

Of course if Spielberg asked me "What should I be working on?" my personal answer would obviously be "You should only make true stories about American history from now until you die." But once he decided to make West Side Story, I am very interested in seeing it just to see how Spielberg makes a musical.  It of course helps that I love the music itself and do not think the original is untouchable.

 

I love Spielberg and am really looking forward to the movie and will go to the cinemas for it and I think it has a chance to be great.

 

But the fact remains that this movie will be to a certain extent been there done that.

 

I would say but for Latino casting, this movie would not have been greenlit. I don't think the original is absolutely untouchable either. But for what it is, it is magnificently made and by all accounts is a very successful movie - artistically and commercially.

 

Some films there is limited appetite by Hollywood to remake. Take Gone With the Wind (though that has its own problems), Lawrence of Arabia, Sound of Music - is anybody clamoring to remake them? No. Because the originals are about as good as you can make them, though they are not unimpeachable.

 

WSS would have been in that category. What did Spielberg have to say when he went in to make the pitch. What would he do different than the original? Why cast Latino actors in Latino roles. That's how the movie got greenlit. 

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3 minutes ago, Marian Schedenig said:

 

But the original musical orchestration is what Bernstein wrote, right? Wasn't he unhappy with the arrangements made for the Wise film? So going back to the original version makes sense, doesn't it?

 

Yes. &

He was unhappy. &

Yes it makes sense.

 

But will Spielberg still go with a 30 piece orchestra sound in a 100 million dollar modern film - THAT I am skeptical of. 

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17 minutes ago, Disco Stu said:

Sorry, count me as one of the weirdos who loves it.  Carreras singing "Maria" is one of the greatest achievements of Western civilization

 

I should listen to it again. I love its version of America, but from what I remember, Carreras singing Bernstein is only marginally better than Domingo singing Wagner.

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Not being on the poster is the price to pay by David Newman because he was not chosen (or he declined) to conduct the music himself.

 

Does he still conduct concerts, maybe he was too busy?

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On 29/10/2021 at 12:39 PM, Marian Schedenig said:

 

I should listen to it again. I love its version of America, but from what I remember, Carreras singing Bernstein is only marginally better than Domingo singing Wagner.

 

Tatiana Troyanos!

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On 29/10/2021 at 5:29 PM, TheUlyssesian said:

Is this confirmed? I find this unlikely for some reason.

 

A 30 strong orchestra is going to sound thin.

 

Spielberg is used to big orchestral JW scores even for his non-musical scores. Will he skimp out on his only musical ever?

 

I think most modern musicals have a big dense orchestral sound. So I still want to hear how this sounds to see if its truly a 30 something Broadway orchestra pit kinda sound.

 

The movie cost 100 mil. 

 

I don't know exact details as they kept everything under very tight wraps, but from what I gathered talking with musicians, it seems they stayed pretty close to the original Broadway orchestration. Anyway, I too guess it's going to be more than 30 players.

 

On 29/10/2021 at 5:39 PM, Jay said:

Well, you can hear "America" in the video I posted.  Does it sound like a 30 piece orchestra in that clip, or a bigger one?

 

I think that's the vocal track beefed up by the trailer music house who worked on this ad. They also obnoxiously repeated the first two stanzas avoiding the change of key (which is what makes the refrain special). Go figure.

 

On 29/10/2021 at 6:13 PM, TheUlyssesian said:

By all accounts the 1961 version is a cinematic classic - a magnificent movie with superb music and dancing and staging and design and decor and everything. Mega box office hit and critically acclaimed and swept the academy awards. 

 

Can it be improved upon? Why is it being remade? For a single reason? To bring more of a Latino element in - in terms of casting etc.

 

The movie's very own professed reason for even existing is to highlight the Latino element. So it is not besides the point to speculate that this is why Dudamel received top billing.

 

I hate to be this type of guy, but Spielberg isn't remaking the 1961 film. He's doing a new adaptation of the 1957 Broadway musical. Of course a lot of people became acquainted and fell in love with WSS thanks to the 1961 film, so we can cut some slack if there are still people believing WSS is a classic Hollywood musical. But the reality is that it's not.

 

As for the more pronounced Latino casting, well, it's 2021 and a lot of water went under the bridge since the late 1950s. Anyway, given what happened recently to Lin-Manuel Miranda for his In The Heights film musical, we can expect a lot of PC talk about this movie too, as the racial baggage that lies beneath even the original musical is huge given where we are now as a society and how the entertainment industry is feeling about these issues.

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18 minutes ago, TownerFan said:

we can cut some slack if there are still people believing WSS is a classic Hollywood musical. But the reality is that it's not.

 

What exactly do you mean by this?

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I mean what I wrote. West Side Story isn't a Hollywood musical, but Broadway musical theatre first. The fact it lent itself well to a filmed adaptation doesn't mean that it's like Singing in the Rain or The Sound of Music.

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44 minutes ago, TownerFan said:

I mean what I wrote. West Side Story isn't a Hollywood musical, but Broadway musical theatre first. The fact it lent itself well to a filmed adaptation doesn't mean that it's like Singing in the Rain or The Sound of Music.

I hate to be this type of guy, but The Sound of Music isn't a Hollywood musical, but Broadway musical theatre first ;)

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2 hours ago, TownerFan said:

I mean what I wrote. West Side Story isn't a Hollywood musical, but Broadway musical theatre first. The fact it lent itself well to a filmed adaptation doesn't mean that it's like Singing in the Rain or The Sound of Music.

 

Well, I was mainly wondering about how you define "classic" in this context, and don't see why you would claim the film is not a classic. It's No. 51 on AFIs list of 100 greatest american films of all time, so I'm pretty sure that qualifies for the classic label. 

 

Also, no matter what came first, the film is a Hollywood musical, and I don't see why you would argue about that. The Sound of Music, which you're using as a counter example, is also an adaptation of a stage musical.

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It can be both. A classic Broadway musical and a classic Hollywood musical. Same as with FIDDLER ON THE ROOF and a great many other things. What Spielberg based his 'interpretation' on, however, I will not say, as I don't have that information.

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1 hour ago, Jurassic Shark said:

 

Well, I was mainly wondering about how you define "classic" in this context, and don't see why you would claim the film is not a classic. It's No. 51 on AFIs list of 100 greatest american films of all time, so I'm pretty sure that qualifies for the classic label. 

 

Also, no matter what came first, the film is a Hollywood musical, and I don't see why you would argue about that. The Sound of Music, which you're using as a counter example, is also an adaptation of a stage musical.

 

The film version of WSS is absolutely an all-time Hollywood classic. I was talking about WSS as a musical per se, in its original form. Much more than other stage musicals which have been successfully adapted for the big screen (like The Sound of Music, that's why I mentioned it), its nature as a quintessential piece of musical theatre supersedes the cult following of the film version made by Hollywood (IMHO, of course). I'm aware that for a substantial amount of people WSS means the film adaptation, and not the stage musical. 

 

1 hour ago, ChrisAfonso said:

I hate to be this type of guy, but The Sound of Music isn't a Hollywood musical, but Broadway musical theatre first ;)

 

I know. However, the film adaptation completely surpassed the original stage version at least in public consciousness. The same cannot be said of West Side Story (again, IMHO).

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I do think West Side Story commands more respect as a piece of theatre than something like The Sound of Music, but I think it's too much of an apology to try and divorce this from the 1961 movie. Everyone I've ever talked to about this, all the articles, all the tweets and forum posts, talk about it as a remake of the film, not a cinematic revival of the Broadway show. Even though there are differences in the trailers, Spielberg seems pretty indebted to the original film, visually. It doesn't look like enough of a departure. 

 

I think what TF is talking about reminds me more like if someone were to re-adapt The Phantom of the Opera, Rent, or Into the Woods (or God forbid, Cats) again down the line, where the legacies of the stage productions far far far outweigh the movies. Even better regarded films like Les Mis or Sweeney Todd, I think by 60 years, new films might not be considered remakes so much as another shot at the West End/Broadway shows. I feel like Towner's trying to say West Side Story's movie popularity vs stage respectability is comparable to those latter two, just higher on both ends, but I don't think that's quite true, I think the ratio's closer than that. 

 

Trying to think of others. I don't think Spielberg's nearly as close as if someone were to do Oliver! or eventually Chicago again, two other Best Picture winners which are popular enough but not really in the "classic" conversation. The Chicago film still has a good amount of iconography, though. I know that plenty of people don't think the 1961 WSS is even that good, but it's still more famous than most musicals in film history, it's probably still in the top 5-10 and one of the biggest mountains Spielberg could have picked to climb. Like South Pacific and Porgy & Bess are two of the era which you could easily do another movie now as if it was the first time those shows were adapted. You could do On the Town again, another Bernstein. More popular favorites like The Music Man, The King & I, Oklahoma!, even Fiddler, you'd be in deeper water with audiences but I think you could still more convincingly get away with pretending like they're not technically remakes than West Side Story. Even when the Coens maintained they were simply "re-adapting" True Grit the novel, people wouldn't stop asking them about the original movie and that's way more obscure.

 

I'd say doing Cabaret or My Fair Lady would be closest to the danger zone Spielberg's jumping into, maybe? And I'd still put general familiarity with the original WSS movie higher. Though none of these are quite as egregious as doing The Sound of Music, sure.  

 

And I get what Spielberg is doing in principle isn't any different than just "re-adapting the show" but there's a cultural context here. Even a lot of younger people aren't gonna watch this like the other movie doesn't exist. 

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It is a purely semantic difference to call this movie a remake or a re-adaptation of the broadway musical. 

 

The reality is it is impossible to differentiate looking at the final product.

 

I will even say this, rights and IP or musicals are extremely fungible. Famous and successful movies affect subsequent broadway productions of shows. For example, the movies of West Side Story, Sound of Music, Cabaret, My Fair lady all have a huge impact on how the shows are performed today.

 

ALSO I might add, the reason this movie exists is because the 1961 version exists. The reason a second adaptation is made because it seeks to do some things differently from the first adaptation. The reason the casting is more Latino in this film is because it was less Latino in the 1961 film.

 

To even try to theorize that this movie has nothing at all do with the 1961 would be to completely ignore the reality of how movies are made. It would in-fact be FOOLISH for Spielberg and co to not closely study the 1961 version.

 

And I will state this again - West Side Story did not NEED another movie adaptation. I think we could all start with that premise. I don't want to repeat the arguments made above but a  movie is not made for me alone or you alone or that person alone. It is made for THE MAJORITY OF THE AUDIENCE.

 

For THE MAJORITY OF THE AUDIENCE, the 1961 version will work perfectly in 99% of the cases. It was commercially successful, critically successful, won great prizes and renown. That it was a artistic and commercial success is without dispute. It might not work for me. Or you. Or that person. But for the majority of the audience it does.

 

As such, the movie does cast a shadow. And it would not at all be wrong to call this movie a remake. It is only a metaphysical distinction. 

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Apparently Ansel is going to be part of the press junket for this film. Journalists are wondering how that will play out. 

 

I bet Disney is daring them to ask unsavory questions at the threat of permanent blacklisting from Disney properties. 

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Studios have found a way around this. They now own both the cameras and the tapes recording each interview, the latter of which is only handed over at the completion of the interview. 

 

Venture off topic, the interview is canned, they don't receive their tape and go home empty handed. And because they don't own the tape, they have no claim to the footage. 

 

You'd also face the wrath of Disney's publicity department, who would probably blacklist your company for a few years as a result. 

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I'm seeing it next week. Interesting stretch of tentpole movies now, with HOUSE OF GUCCI tomorrow, then GHOSTBUSTERS: AFTERLIFE, WEST SIDE STORY and the new MATRIX. Plus KAMPEN OM NARVIK - a Norwegian war movie, one of the biggest productions of our country this year.

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7 hours ago, crumbs said:

Studios have found a way around this. They now own both the cameras and the tapes recording each interview, the latter of which is only handed over at the completion of the interview. 

 

Venture off topic, the interview is canned, they don't receive their tape and go home empty handed. And because they don't own the tape, they have no claim to the footage. 

 

You'd also face the wrath of Disney's publicity department, who would probably blacklist your company for a few years as a result. 

 

 

That's a GREAT point.

 

We saw this play out publicly with the Adele interview controversy.

 

All junket interviews are OWNED by the studio and they only share the content with the press AFTER reviewing.

 

So I am sure all difficult questions will be completely scrubbed by whatever interviews Disney chooses to reveal.

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