With Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story coming to HBO Max and Disney Plus on March 2, fans have been sharing some favourite shots and clips on social media. One scene, in particular, has gone viral – with over 3 million views and 32 thousand likes – and esteemed critics and creatives such as Guillermo del Toro have been weighing in, to show their appreciation for Spielberg’s direction.
West Side Story made $70 million at the box office, which was seen as disappointing, but it is likely to see a surge in popularity once it’s available at home. It’s nominated for seven Oscars, including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Cinematography. Ariana DeBose is considered a front-runner for Best Supporting Actress.
The shot in question is a fluid one in which the camera follows Anita (DeBose), Bernardo (David Alvarez), Maria (Rachel Zegler) and Chino (Josh Andres Rivera) into the gym where a local dance is taking place (this will be the fateful location where Maria meets Tony). The camera smoothly floats above the dancers in one continuous shot, then back down amongst them, picking out figures such as Riff (Mike Faist), Anybodys (Iris Menas) and Officer Krupke (Brian d’Arcy James).
The cinematography by Janusz Kaminski is certainly one of the stand-out elements of West Side Story and Spielberg’s direction shows that at age 75, he’s still innovating and being wildly creative, not just resting on the laurels of his 50 year career.
You can read Guillermo del Toro’s enlightening thread about the shot, and West Side Story as a whole here;
Extremely hard to execute. Pure, masterly clockwork precision and a lot more complex than “seamed” shots or steadicam-to-crane “relay” shots. Baffling, virtuoso- but one of so, so many shots that make the camera “dance” with each musical number. https://t.co/rjzdit0Mak
— Guillermo del Toro (@RealGDT) February 26, 2022
Spielberg is showing no signs of retiring, or even slowing down, as reportedly he’s going from rumbas and rumbles to shoot-outs and car chases, with a planned Bullitt movie. Find out if your favourite Spielberg movie made the cut on our list of the best Spielberg movies.