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08 December 2021

Steven Spielberg chose not to subtitle Spanish in West Side Story remake as a mark of ‘respect’

08 December 2021

Steven Spielberg has spoken about why he deliberately chose not to subtitle Spanish dialogue in his upcoming remake of musical West Side Story, saying he felt it would be “disrespectful”.

Based on Shakespeare’s tragedy Romeo & Juliet, West Side Story tells the tale of two forbidden lovers caught up between rival street gangs: the Sharks, whose members hail from Puerto Rico, and the all-white Jets.

The original film adaptation was released in 1961 and went on to win 10 Oscars at the the 1962 Academy Awards, including for Best Picture.

Speaking about the lack of subtitles in the retelling, which is due to hit cinemas on Friday (December 10), director Spielberg, 74, told DigitalSpy: “I don’t know if anybody really questioned it, I don’t remember anybody saying you’ve got to subtitle it.

“I felt that subtitling the Spanish was disrespectful to the second language of this country.

“It would make English the dominant language because then there would be two being spoken: the English by the characters speaking and the English that would [be written] underneath the spoken Spanish words.”

Adding: “It was out of complete respect to give dignity where dignity is earned and deserved to be given.”

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