West Side Story: Why Steven Spielberg didn’t want to subtitle the dialogues in Spanish

“I had to respect the language enough not to impose subtitles on it.”

Barely released at the cinema, the West Side Story of Steven spielberg is acclaimed by critics, both in France and across the Atlantic. And this despite a “detail” which usually annoys American audiences: the film is shot in both English and Spanish, and the dialogues are not subtitled. A way of paying tribute to the Latin American community which is at the heart of the film, explains the filmmaker to IGN : The Sharks are mainly from Puerto Rico, and the Jets are of Irish origin. Origins that it was imperative to honor, according to him.

“We wanted to respect as much as possible our intention to hire only Latino actors to play the boys and girls of the Sharks. This is something that I specifically asked of Cindy Tolan, the person in charge of the casting. audition only actors whose parents, grandparents or themselves were from Latin American countries.In the end, we have a lot of artists from Puerto Rico, at least 20 actors, who come directly of the country or who are Nuyoricans (New Yorker of Puerto Rican origin, editor’s note). It was very important, and it went hand in hand with my intention not to subtitle Spanish. If I had, then it would have increased the power of the English language, it would have taken precedence over Spanish. This was not supposed to happen in this film, I had to respect the language enough not to impose subtitles on it. “

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