West Side Story aims to improve on original’s Latino representation

When Rita Moreno starred as Anita in West Facet Tale, the 1961 film during which 1/2 the characters are Puerto Rican, she used to be the one Latino performer among the forged.

Nonetheless, she — and her white colleagues — had been made to wear make-up that darkened their pores and skin.

It used to be a common observe back then. But in the 60 years seeing that, Moreno says Latino illustration in movie and television “hasn’t modified any place close to sufficient.”

“In a few respects it has gotten better,” she told CBC Information. “In some respects, it’s just about the similar … i think we’re represented so poorly in movies and television.”

Director Steven Spielberg says he desired to cast his model, in theatres now, extra “authentically” — to ensure the actors playing the famed musical’s Puerto Rican teens have been “had been 100 consistent with cent Latinx and young.”

Like the unique, his version relies at the 1957 level musical by way of Stephen Sondheim and Leonard Bernstein, recounting the forbidden romance of Tony, an American boy, and Maria, a Puerto Rican lady, in 1950s The Big Apple Town. Their affair is sophisticated by allegiances to rival teenage gangs: the Puerto Rican “Sharks” and the white American “Jets.”

West Side Story aims to improve on original's Latino representation

David Alvarez portrays Bernardo Vasquez. The Cuban-Canadian actor says there’s ‘such a lot pleasure’ in the new edition of the 1961 vintage. (twentieth Century Studios/AP)

Moreno, now 89, takes on a new position as Valentina, a scene-stealing shopkeeper.

One professional says that Latino performers were overlooked and stereotyped through Hollywood for years. The old West Aspect Tale used to be no exception.

It “appears to be like actually bizarre to us as of late as a result of we see that, and we think, ‘What is that?’ and, ‘Why does Moreno have such a lot make-up?'” said Charles Ramírez Berg, a professor of film research at the School of Texas at Austin and a professional on Latinos in American cinema.

“Again in 1961, that was once just the convention and that used to be simply how movies have been made.”

a new generation of Latino triple threats — all actors, dancers and singers — emerge in Spielberg’s adaptation. One is Canada’s David Alvarez, who plays Shark leader Bernardo, a task in the beginning portrayed by way of Greek actor George Chakiris.

WATCH | Moreno discusses each West Side Story films:

Alvarez, who’s of Cuban descent, says while he loves the original, it isn’t without its shortcomings.

“the one thing that I want have been the case is that the old film represented the Latin community a little higher,” Alvarez said. That’s why there is “so much satisfaction” in the back of this new film, he introduced.

“My oldsters struggled such a lot to try and provides me a better existence,” said Alvarez, whose folks moved from Cuba to Canada through the nineties.

“It makes me so glad that not only my oldsters get to see it, but just a complete complete community who have in mind the fight that Bernardo, Anita and Maria go through.”

Some Other modification: Spielberg’s West Aspect Tale forgoes subtitles when characters are talking Spanish.

“I felt that subtitling the Spanish would had been disrespectful to the second one language in this us of a, and that it will right away make English the dominant language,” Spielberg mentioned in an interview with Virtual Spy, a British leisure web site. 

West Side Story aims to improve on original's Latino representation

DeBose, left, director Steven Spielberg and Rachel Zegler attend the top-rated at the Rose Theater at Lincoln Center on Nov. 29 in Ny. Zegler performs Maria within the new film. (Charles Sykes/Invision/AP)

“It was out of entire appreciate, and to give the glory the place dignity is earned and deserved to accept.”

Alvarez says understanding Spanish-language scenes is an issue of context, no longer linguistics.

“All you have got were given to do is have a look at how it is being said. How am I saying it? Am I kissing Anita while I Am saying it? If I’m kissing Anita … maybe I’m saying one thing flirty.”

Audiences have more and more driven again against film and television that, whilst casting within a explicit ethnicity, favour gentle-skinned performers, shutting darker-skinned skill out of roles.

in contrast, 2021’s West Aspect Story has been lauded for casting Afro-Latino performers, together with breakout superstar Ariana DeBose, who portrays Anita — the same persona Moreno was made to darken her pores and skin for in 1961.

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Ethnic illustration on the reveal isn’t best, says Ramírez Berg. However in this day and age “it’s a lot better.”  

“persons are thinking and type of expanding their cinematic view of news that may be informed, of characters that may cling our attention for a movie, and actors who may play those characters.”

West Side Story aims to improve on original's Latino representation

Rita Moreno stars as Valentina in Spielberg’s version. in the 1961 original, she portrayed Anita, the sister-in-legislation of romantic lead Maria and was the only actor of Puerto Rican descent. (Niko Tavernise/20th Century Studios/AP)

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