After my infantile sobbing subsided, my date and I got to thinking - what if they remade West Side Story? The idea doesn't seem completely outlandish - a remake of Footloose will soon grace our screens; gory creature feature The Thing (another of my favourites) is getting re-remade; and James Cameron has the ballsy cynicism to straight up re-release Titanic in 3D. So, you know, it could happen. And would that necessarily be a bad thing? My initial instinct was to cry sacrilege, but in thinking about it, a West Side Story remake might not be a bad idea at all. There are plenty of elements that could do with some improvements.
It would be great, for instance, to hire actual Puerto Ricans to play Maria and her extremely dapper and handsome brother Bernardo.
|Ugh, smolder central.|
The 1961 film is also strangely, distractingly clean. Gang members say things like "ever-lovin'" and "Krup you," and the lyrics to "America" feel consciously restrained. A remake wouldn't have to contend with the draconian Hays Code, which required clean-ups like "birth to earth" from "sperm to worm," and "you came with your mouth open" from "you came with your legs open." Using more vulgar dialogue, some of which could easily be found in the original stage script, would go a long way towards making the movie as realistic and relatable as a musical can be.
|Is this not what gang violence is?|
I know it's in the movie geek rule book to hate even the idea of remakes, especially of something that's held up as a classic, like West Side Story. And I do hate cynical remakes, whose sole reason for existence is money. Still, if there's a better way to tell a story, then I'm all for it; and as much as I love West Side Story as is, a better version could be out there somewhere. (Some day. Some way.)