The first teaser for Steven Spielberg’s hotly awaited adaptation of iconic musical West Side Story premiered during the Academy Awards last night, and it reaffirmed the director’s status as a presenter of beautiful American cinematic stories. The characters, music and themes of West Side Story are known to audiences young and old, but never have we seen such a visually lush presentation of the story as we can immediately glimpse in this 90 seconds of footage. Indeed, this version of the story, arriving in theaters on Dec. 10, 2021, promises to be unlike any West Side Story we’ve ever seen before.
The original 1957 Broadway musical is of course the Romeo & Juliet-style love story of Tony and Maria, two teenagers from different ethnic backgrounds, caught in the middle of a street gang conflict in their 1950s blue collar New York neighborhood. Together, they dream of bringing an end to the conflict around them and escaping to a place where their love will be free to take wing. Spielberg’s film stars Baby Driver’s Ansel Elgort as Tony, alongside Rachel Zegler as Maria. The film also stars Ariana DeBose, David Alvarez, Mike Faist, Josh Andrés Rivera, Ana Isabelle, Corey Stoll, Brian d’Arcy James, and Rita Moreno, one of the stars of the classic, much-loved 1961 film adaptation.
But with all apologies to director Robert Wise, the 1961 version of West Side Story doesn’t look anything like the gorgeous HD cinematography on display in this brief trailer. Spielberg seems to have shot in a highly atmospheric and evocative style this time around, as the midnight meeting between the Sharks and the Jets (presumably for the “rumble”) makes clear. The way the two gangs’ shadows intersect as they stride toward one another is a beautiful, chilling image. Even those on the fence about another West Side Story adaptation will probably be much more interested after watching this one.
Check out the full teaser below.