The debate about the creative and artistic merits of remakes has been raging on for decades, and regardless of which side of the fence you fall on, Hollywood isn’t going to stop churning them out on a regular basis.
There are very few movies that can be deemed as genuinely untouchable and sacred, but it’s a list that grows shorter with each passing year. On the surface, there’s absolutely no need whatsoever to remake West Side Story, which is regarded as one of the greatest musicals ever made, one that landed eleven Academy Award wins from twelve nominations to boot.
However, Steven Spielberg’s updated version is earning rave reviews and is being positioned to follow in its predecessor’s footsteps as a major awards season contender. That’s not a bad return for a project many deemed as unnecessary, and star Brian d’Arcy admitted to Variety that there’s no harm in returning to the well under the right circumstances.
“I’m not precious about these things. Maybe it’s because I’ve spent a lot of time in the theater, where revivals are a main thread of what we do, particularly musicals. Any chance to reimagine or inject new life into something people already know is a little less sacrosanct in the theater. So that kind of thinking spills into this scenario. Then when you add in the idea that it’s Steven Spielberg and [writer] Tony Kushner, then you really don’t have to think twice.”
Of course, very few filmmakers in the history of cinema have the clout, name value or proven track record that Spielberg does, so West Side Story has been viewed with cautious optimism since it was first announced given the talent involved. Not every remake will be so lucky, but that’s not going to stop them from happening.