The 60-year anniversary release of West Side Story comes to theaters on December 10, as a new remake of the classic 1961 musical. It is directed and produced by Steven Spielberg, who, by recent account, has done a fantastic job with this 1961 story.
I'm looking forward to seeing it again. I first saw it in 1961 with my father and brothers in an SIU campus theater in Carbondale, Illinois. I knew then that it was something special then, as the musical completely enthralled me at the time. I realized then that films could transport you to a world you never knew. It can evoke emotions you didn't know you had.
And why is that? What is so special about West Side Story?
What Keeps People Watching West Side Story
Many people think it's about the musical aspect. After all, famed conductor Leonard Bernstein was one of the original composers/conductors for the film. The music also encapsulated the best of the jazz era in the late '50s and early '60s.
This is why my father told me we had to go to the movie the very first day it came out. He took us as young children to this adult movie, or so we thought it was. My father very much respected Bernstein and talked about him all the time. He was convinced he was a genius.
But I became mesmerized by the story when I first saw it. I came to realize what enthralled me. It wasn't just the music and Bernstein. Even at 6 years old I can remember that it was about a deep love story.
That is what caught my attention. I learned that a man can so deeply love a woman that he will deny everything else in his life. And it can happen in an instant. Her name, and who she is, suddenly engulfs him - Maria, Maria, Maria.
The same with the woman - she is also captured by love, all at once. It infuses her emotions, denies all objections, and makes her feel pretty, oh so pretty.
It's like some sort of benign disease - immediately taking effect on both Tony and Maria.
And then, something happens that takes a cost on this kind of love, making it seem even sacrificial. The west side story (of New York City) is the story of deep, sudden, and tragic love. It sears itself into your heart. The highs of new love and the lows of loss... that's the west side story.
When To Watch It
The theatrical release will last 45 days and after that HBO and/or Disney will likely allow it to be streamed on their platforms. This is because Disney bought 20th Century Fox studios in 2019 which owned the property (later renamed 20th Century Studios).
But a prior 10-year pre-existing contract allows Warner Media, which owns HBO (now actually part of AT&T), to stream the film until the end of 2022. Nevertheless, Disney signed a deal with WarnerMedia to share access to select titles like this on either Hulu or Disney+. So it looks like you will have a choice of streaming the movie sometime in mid-January on HBO and/or Disney+ or Hulu.
In any case, this is a classic movie about love that you should not miss.
Also, don't forget to fully "Follow" me and make sure to download the Newsbreak app to become a Registered Follower. This way you can also see all my articles in the past. Click on the Follow link underneath my profile name.