La La Land – Shining in the City of Stars

April 17, PRAGUE—“It’s another Day of Sun”, and it’s about time for me to tell you the story that takes place behind the camera of a movie that left no one untouched.

The adorable film from Damien Chazelle (the youngest director to ever win an Academy Award) is a twirling and soaring kind of musical made in the style of the 1960’s. When Catherine Deneuve and Françoise Dorléac were swishing down sunny boulevards singing and glistening popular jazz numbers in sorbet-coloured dresses.

“La La Land” tells the story of Mia (played by Emma Stone), an aspiring actress, and Sebastian (played by Ryan Gossling), a jazz musician and pianist that dreams of having his own jazz bar one day. Both characters are struggling to make ends meet in a city that is known for crushing hopes and breaking hearts.  Set in modern day Los Angeles the film is about the beauty that comes from the relationship rather than just the relationship itself. It’s a movie that wants people to achieve their dreams.


“La La Land” takes you to a place where anything is possible, where time doesn’t exist and you forget that the action takes place in modern world. It’s timeless.

The camera operators did a great job keeping long takes alive and dynamic, making viewer’s head and fantasy spin out of the reality. Behind the comedy and happy music pieces, there is a complex, crisply written powerful love story, that becomes very fragile in the second half of the film where Mia’s and Sebastian’s life goals and relationships become very tricky to reconcile. After the viewer has waltzed through the night of the stars, just like the main characters do in amazing gravity-defying fantasy, the only way after that scene is the way down to the Earth.

It’s obvious straight from the beginning that the film is the musical full of attractive young people with ambitions and pipe dreams, jumping out of their cars in an impregnable traffic jam and start singing about LA’s daunting show-business heritage and the effort that it takes trying to measure up to it. That scene was shot in just two days with 150 dancers under the unbearable hot weather.  Marc Platt, the producer said at “Saturday’s Saturday’s Producers Guild of America”, that shutting down the freeway didn’t seem that impossible when he first read the Damien Chazelle’s script. Shutting down the freeway probably was not the hardest thing, for the filmmakers. One of the hardest things was making a scene the viewer would think was done in just one take and was completely uncut. It’s really hard to notice that the camera is not continuous and that the scene was actually edited.

Despite the infamous accident during the Oscar’s this year, “La La Land” was definitely one of the movies that could have won an Academy Award. Not only judging by the outstanding performances from Ryan Reynolds and Emma Stone, but also from a technical side.

“La La Land” is a location-driven movie. A lot of the scenes had to be shot during the dawn, which means that the crew had about 30 minutes to get the scenes, that are about 6 minutes long.

An outstanding job was done by the Art director and Director of photography of the film. Just to get the technological side of the film right “La La Land’s” departments had to communicate more than they usually do in order to choreograph the film’s big color moments. When planning the musical number where Emma Stone and her character’s roommates dress up for a night out, Reynolds-Wasco decided to make each bedroom in the 1920s Spanish-garden complex. It was done in order to complement the girls living that apartment. Reynold-Wasco explained that they decided to make each room correspond with the girls, only after they knew what the characters would be wearing (costume and jewel-tone-colors). They also explained that if they had a single-colored dress in a shot they would try to put it against the patterned wallpaper. The apartment ended up designed with French, thrift-shop-y items, like little metal ornate chairs.

Lastly “La La Land” is all about the songs and dance. Without it, the movie just would not be as successful as it is. Reynolds and Stone are undoubtedly not the best singers and they don’t need to be. Their acting skills are more than enough to perform a song that perfectly matches the storyline.

The simplest way to describe “La La Land” is simply to call it “an old-fashion musical”, that means love, sadness, joy, singing and dancing and all of this in long and uncut scenes. However, it would be a crime to call “La La Land” just an “old-fashioned” musical.

Doesn’t matter whether you are a film professional or just a regular person that walked into the cinema, you’ll be taken away with love, joy from the music, the dancing and acting which give the viewer the unexpected happiness.  You will be blown away with the wind of change that takes a viewer to the end of the movie, and changes the whole concept of “old-fashioned” musical and happy endings. The ending of the movie can be seen both as happy and sad. However, it all depends on the values that viewers personally have in life.

Written by Nino Aphakidze.