As it turns out, people actually do love musicals. At least, they do when they have Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone in them. Let’s be honest, no other movie in recent memory has made us want to learn a piano tune, a dance number, or anything that would make our lives at least bit more like golden age Hollywood, as much as this Damien Chazelle’s flick did. Just add Gosling’s shattering speech at the Golden Globes 2017, and you have the movie event of the year! However, there’s a huge Hollywood history behind La La Land, starting from Gosling and Stone waltzing in the Griffith Observatory and leading up to the coloruful choreography of the opening sequence! My-Picture.co.uk sways into the glorious iconography of musicals!
Fred Astaire is probably the most famous cinema dancer ever, and quite understandably so. His tremendous talent and natural charisma pretty much veiled the fact that the movies themselves were rarely half as good as the dance numbers featured in them. Regardless, they remain cinema classics with Swing Time (1936) being no exception. Though initially not as warmly welcomed as other Fred Astaire & Ginger Rogers-led outings, it spawned one of the greatest dance sequences the screen had ever seen at that point. Gosling and Stone pay their dues with a beautiful interplanetary waltz!
Singing in the Rain
This was to be expected. Singing in the Rain (1952) has become pretty much the ultimate musical, a piece rarely anyone these days has actually seen, yet one that has somehow become synonymous with musical culture in general. Just like La La Land, the film initially was slow to take off, despite boasting an impressive cast with actors like Gene Kelly and the much loved and sadly recently deceased Debbie Reynolds. In no time, however, the musical became an absolute classic, featuring some of the most easily recognisable and yet physically demanding dance numbers on the silver screen!
An American in Paris
Another Gene Kelly-led movie that was heavily referenced in the latter part of La La Land, namely, in the flashback “what could have been” sequence at the very end of the film. Now, you should know that the 17-minute long ballet sequence at the end of the movie alone cost one million dollars (in 1951 dollars). The movie itself has a very decorative, intentionally naive vibe about it – something that’s really showing up quite frequently when you watch the thus far most talked-about movie of 2017 – La La Land. More than Paris itself, it’s an impossibly wonderful Hollywood dream, and one that inspired Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling to keep pursuing their dreams!
The Umbrellas of Cherbourg
A European counterpart of the otherwise more American-centered musical culture, The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (1964) is probably the most famous film made by the legendary French director Jacques Demy. This film features not only the very young and beautiful duo of Catherine Deneuve and Nino Castelnuovo but also boasts an incredibly bold colour palette, as well as a perfect final crane shot (another feature La La Land elaborated on). If you opt to see it, get ready for an incredibly inspiring experience, albeit one that might take a bit of gettting used to. The whole thing is sung like an opera piece, even the most casual lines of dialogue.
West Side Story
Far away from the warm beaches of the West Coast, this modern interpretation of Romeo and Juliette takes place in the urban jungle of New York. An absolute must-watch, not only for fans of musicals but for also everyone who considers him/herself a true cinephile, West Side Story (1961) has everything for contemporary musicals to borrow from. Bold tones, an easy, lighthearted spirit, perfectly executed dance numbers and a bit of a tragic twist to remind us that sadness is an integral part of beauty. If only rival gangs these days would solve their differences with energetic dance-offs. Anyhow, reserve your next movie night for this one!
La La Land is truly something of a cinematic phenomenon. Released to a rather tame audience reception (yet those who saw it initially left the cinema crying and dancing at the same time, as is evident here), the film’s popularity simply exploded in 2017. And why not, because if anything, cinema should sometimes be sincere, dreamy and impossible, just like it used to be back in the day. My-Picture.co.uk meanwhile reminds you of something important – to reach your dream you have to see it first. A huge canvas of Gene Kelly singing in the rain should do the trick!
Here’s to the ones who dream!