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(Credit: Press)


Steven Spielberg film ‘West Side Story’ will not be screened in parts of the Middle East


Steven Spielberg is the iconic director of countless 20th-century classics including Jurassic Park, Jaws, Saving Private Ryan, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial and Raiders of the Lost Ark among many more. His 21st-century efforts have been less than impressive, however, often failing to reach the heights of his previous films with Ready Player One, War Horse and The Adventures of Tintin falling flat to commercial and critical indifference. Spielberg’s remake of the classic musical West Side Story looks to change this trend, with the film already garnering generous reviews from the lucky few who have already seen the film. 

Starring Ansel Elgort, Rachel Zegler, Maddie Ziegler and Ariana DeBose, the film is a musical retelling of William Shakespeare’s classic romantic tragedy Romeo and Juliet, originally conceived by Jerome Robbins with music by Leonard Bernstein and lyrics by the late Stephen Sondheim. With the brand new adaptation ready to roll out in international movie theatres from this week, it has recently been announced that the film will not be showing in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman, Kuwait, or the UAE. 

An official reason for the lack of distribution in these countries is not yet understood, though it is believed to have something to do with the character, Anybodys played in the film by Ezra Menas. A transgender tomboy, it is believed that the aforementioned countries did not approve of the character, requesting cuts in order for it to be passed by the censors. In refusing such edits, the film will therefore not show in many regions of the Middle East. 

This situation is unfortunately not a new one, with the Marvel ensemble film Eternals also passing unreleased in Saudi Arabia due to the scene including a same-sex kiss. In the UAE, Eternals was released, though had all references to sex removed, no matter if they were in a heterosexual or homosexual context.