Audiences in Middle East won’t be able to witness the epic love story between Maria and Tony. The countries’ censor boards decided to ban the film. This news disappointed the Disney fans in many of those countries.
Disney and 20th Century’s Collaboration project “West Side Story” is the adaptation of the classic musical, has been banned in Saudi Arabia, UAE and Bahrain. In some cases, like Qatar and Oman, Disney simply refused to comply with the censor cuts requested by the boards to grant a release certificate.
This move isn’t surprising as Middle Eastern countries have strict policies against sexuality, swearing and other aspects which don’t comply with the nation’s cultural views such as LGBTQ references.
“West Side Story,” directed by Steven Spielberg, isn’t profane. It’s understood censor boards weren’t comfortable with the content in the film. Most recently Disney’s “Eternals” was pulled from premiering from the same region because of the inclusion of same sex couple.
Chief film Critic Owen Gleiberman from Variety praised Spielberg’s adaption of the tale, by saying the director made the movie is own while staying true to what the audience love about the story’s Romeo and Juliet type romance. He wrote, “There are scenes in Spielberg’s version that will melt you, scenes that will make your pulse race, and scenes where you simply and revel in the big-spirited grandeur of it all”
“West Side Story” hits the theaters everywhere else on Friday. The new version comes 60 years after the original which was incidentally adapted from the 1957 Broadway show. The movie features Rachel Zegler and Ansel Elgort in lead roles. The romance between the two creates tension between warring street gangs, the Jets and the Sharks.