Steven Spielberg's 'West Side Story' is a rapturous re-invention of a broadway classic

From the very start of Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story, this superb filmmaker distinguishes his spectacular remake from its classic predecessor, and he does it with dirt. The familiar whistle of the overture plays across a quiet construction site, where rubble and ruins give clues to the apartment buildings that once stood there. From the debris emerges the Jets, a scrappy — but handsome — gang of white boys who will rumble with the equally dashing Puerto Rican gang, the Sharks, over this turf. But a simple shot of architecture suggests how futile their fight will be. With a framing of gentrification, helmer Spielberg and heralded screenwriter Tony Kushner give this period drama another layer of tragedy that is achingly timeless. And this is just the first of many magnificent innovations in a truly inspired remake. It’s not that there was anything wrong with the 1961 version or the 1957 stage

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