Why There Are No Subtitles in Steven Spielberg's West Side Story

Why There Are No Subtitles in Steven Spielberg's West Side Story ...

Steven SpielbergsWest Side Storyreinvents the iconic 1950s musical for a contemporary audience. While the Spielbergs version is still set in New York City of the 1950s, it does differ from the previous one in many ways. Natalie Wood, achild of Greek immigrants, played Bernardo.

The actors in the new film portray Puerto Rican characters completely by Latinx. Many of the Sharks'' scenes are played in Spanish, although the dialogue isn''t subtitled for English-speaking audiences. Even when dialogues are all Spanish, the acting and direction are totally clear.

Still, it''s an unusual choice. Spielberg explained toIGN the reasoning behind it, stating that from the start he permitted his casting director to mandate that all actors who play the Puerto Rican characters must be non-parents or grandparents or themselves from Latinx countries... especially Puerto Rico, we looked a lot in Puerto Rico, we have 20 performers from Puerto Rico or they are Nuyorican.

That decision went hand-in-hand with not subtitling the Spanish, which was explained thus:

If I subtitled the Spanish, I would simply double down on the English and giving English the authority over the Spanish. This was not going to happen in this film, but I needed to respect the language enough not to subtitle it.

The impact of leaving the Spanish dialoguewithout subtitles has on the audiences, particularly given the difficulty of understanding the native language used in the film. (There are no subtitles in real life, but the whole film, for example)

On December 10, West Side Story will be released in theaters. You may read it here.

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