Here’s what the ‘West Side Story’ remake looks like side-by-side with the original

29 April 2021, 14:49 | Updated: 4 May 2021, 16:35

West Side Story: 1961 vs 2021
West Side Story: 1961 vs 2021. Picture: United Artists/20th Century Fox

By Maddy Shaw Roberts

How it started… and how it’s going.

At the 93rd Academy Awards, the world got a first glimpse of Steven Spielberg’s stunning film remake of the great 1959 Leonard Bernstein musical, West Side Story.

It’s a story of forbidden love between the two main characters, Maria (Rachel Zegler) and Tony (Ansel Elgort), and the warring gangs that divide them, the Sharks and Jets – but with a fresh, 2021-coloured lick of paint.

Set in Puerto Rico, the remake has cast only actors with Hispanic backgrounds for the film’s Hispanic characters, in contrast to the 1961 film version starring Natalie Wood and Richard Beymer which cast a number of white actors in makeup to play Puerto Rican characters.

There was also a lot of excitement for the striking shots of the Sharks and Jets’ ‘rumble’ scene in Spielberg’s remake.

Read more: First look at Spielberg’s West Side Story as teaser trailer revealed in Oscars ceremony >

As for the music, asking Venezuelan maestro Gustavo Dudamel to conduct the score was an absolute money shot. The sweeping strings and build-up of Bernstein and Sondheim’s timeless ‘Somewhere’, heard in a delicate rendering by Rita Moreno, is shiver-inducing.

But to help us get a clearer idea of how the remake will differ visually from the 1961 film, someone has put together a pristine side-by-side, shot-for-shot comparison.

“This side-by-side is intended to show the different choices made by two groups of filmmakers sixty years apart when adapting the same work,” YouTuber Matt Skuta said.

'Tonight' scene in West Side Story: 2021 vs 1961
'Tonight' scene in West Side Story: 2021 vs 1961. Picture: United Artists/20th Century Fox
Sharks and Jets' rumble scene in West Side Story: 2021 vs 1961
Sharks and Jets' rumble scene in West Side Story: 2021 vs 1961. Picture: United Artists/20th Century Fox
Tony and Maria scene in West Side Story: 2021 vs 1961
Tony and Maria scene in West Side Story: 2021 vs 1961. Picture: United Artists/20th Century Fox

Watch Skuta’s great work in full below.