Rita Moreno on the lack of Spanish subtitles in West Side Story

Rita Moreno as Valentina and Ansel Elgort as Tony in 20th Century Studios' West Side Story, directed by Steven Spielberg.  Photo courtesy of 20th Century Studio.  © 2021 20th Century Studio.  All rights reserved.

there are many things to appreciate Steven Spielbergnew remake of story of the west, which officially hits theaters on December 10. The film, which is based on the 1961 film, focuses on the romance between two young lovers: a Puerto Rican girl named Maria (played by) Rachel Ziegler) and a white boy named Tony (Ansel Elgort), formerly part of The Jets gang.


Spielberg, along with screenwriters Tony Kushner and Rita Moreno, who served as executive producers as well as playing the new character Valentina, were very careful about removing the harmful stereotypical portrayal of Puerto Ricans we see in the original film. lets see. The one thing they were so intent on was Spoken Spanish conversation throughout the movie without including subtitles, The Valentina remake features a new character that was not present in the original film. She is the Puerto Rican widow of Doc, who owns the candy shop The Jets.

Spielberg noted that the decision to not include subtitles for any Spanish dialogue was “In honor of the inclusivity of our intention to hire purely Latinx actors to play the boys and girls of Shark.“It was his way of showing respect for the language and the Spanish-speaking communities.

“I asked Steven and Kushner, ‘Why didn’t you do the title?’ And he said, ‘With respect.’ Let people wonder what’s being said, and you know, it’s hard not to because it’s emotional baggage that happens with Bernardo and Maria — and it’s obvious,” Moreno exclusively told POPSUGAR. “Ariana keeps saying, ‘Speak English – speak English!’ You know what it’s about, and it’s a sign of such deep respect that they chose not to do subtitles. And a lot of critics picked it up and liked it. And they said some people might not like it, But they’ll live with it. They’ll live with it because the rest of the film is. It was just a scene where a little bit of Spanish and English is spoken, so you know what it’s about.”


Rita Moreno as Valentina in 20th Century Studio's West Side Story.


Moreno said Spielberg and Kushner were determined to get this version story of the west Well, especially when it comes to the portrayal of the Puerto Rican community. It was equally important to Moreno that all of the Puerto Rican characters in the film were actually played by Latinx actors.

“People tell me there are a lot of Latino names when they see the list of names at the end of the movie. It makes me so proud, and it makes me so thrilled and grateful that Steven thought of me,” she said. That said, explaining how he shared with Spielberg and Kushner that not all Puerto Rican characters in the film were to be played by Puerto Ricans, he requested that they all be played by at least Latinx actors. “It’s like, they don’t have to be Puerto Rican, but they definitely all have to be Hispanic. That was my point as a producer,” she said. “Because Steven came up to me and was like, ‘I love this little girl who got tested for Mariah, but her last name is Ziegler — Rachel Ziegler, I was like, ‘Is he Hispanic?’ He was like, ‘He’s from Colombia.’ I was like, ‘It’s okay. He doesn’t have to be Puerto Rican. It would be nice, but he would have to be Hispanic. She needs to be able to speak Spanish, and if she can’t, she needs to learn to speak.'”


In a recent interview, Spielberg declined to cast anyone who was not Latinx for any of the Puerto Rican roles. ,That was a mandate I put in front of Cindy Tolan who cast the film, that I wasn’t going to entertain any auditioners who weren’t parents or grandparents or themselves from Latinx countries,” he said in an interview with IGN. “Puerto Rico in particular, We saw a lot in Puerto Rico, we have 20 Puerto Rican actors in our film or they’re Nuyoricans.”

Such decisions not only make the remake worth watching but also exceeds the expectations of the audience and critics for the film. The story feels a lot more authentic about what was really happening among those communities in NYC during the late 1950s, and it’s a lot more respectable in its portrayal of the Puerto Rican community. To this, we say – it’s just a matter of time!

Rita Moreno Shares Why West Side Story Didn’t Have Spanish Dialogue Subtitles
Originally posted on POPSUGAR Latina



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