Rebel Without a CauseAt one point in La La Land, the star-crossed lovers are watching none other than James Dean in Rebel Without a Cause. It’s a movie that the duo watch on their first real date after Sebastian (Gosling) learns that Mia (Stone) hasn’t seen one of his all-time favourite movies. The movie is shot in Cinemascope, a film format that Chazelle used to shoot La La Land as well.
CasablancaThe similarities between Sebastian and Mia and Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman’s characters are too visible for cinema lovers to miss. From meeting as lost souls to breaking apart under the weight of expectations and never truly getting over one another, the references are all there. If that isn’t enough, Mia also shows Sebastian the iconic balcony where Bogart and Bergman shot a scene.
Singin’ in the RainThere is no denying that the songs and choreography make La La Land stand out from the sea of musicals out there. We can only cite one iconic movie for its dazzling song-and-dance sequence and a soundtrack that was fresh when it released in 1952 – Singin’ In The Rain. The iconic movie, starring Gene Kelly, Debbie Reynolds and Donald O’Connor, is still known for its elaborate sets, foot-tapping numbers and the enchanting chemistry between the lead actors. And let’s not forget the famous dance by the lamp post which Sebastian pays homage to in the song A Lovely Night.
The Band WagonFred Astaire plays an aging star desperate to make a comeback in The Band Wagon, much like Sebastian tries to bring old-school jazz back into the mainstream in La La Land. More importantly, Astaire along with Cyd Charisse performed the now-famous dance sequence on a staged moonlit studio featuring Central Park. It’s hard to miss the connection between Sebastian and Mia’s dance sequence in the planetarium and the one performed in The Band Wagon.
The Umbrellas of CherbourgThe parallels of love, longing and what might have been are hard to ignore between this Palme d’Or winner and La La Land. The Umbrellas of Cherbourg is a colourful musical with a very melancholy storyline about a young girl, Genevive, who falls for a mechanic before he is sent off to fight in the Algerian War. She marries someone else in his absence and the regret and sorrow in the final frames are hard to miss, just as in La La Land.
Funny FaceIf you’re wondering where the inspiration for setting a modern-day musical in Los Angeles came from, look no further than Funny Face. This Stanley Donen movie, featuring the eternally innocent Audrey Hepburn, tells the story of a shy bookstore clerk who turns into a sought-after fashion icon in Paris despite her humble background. The dream sequences and the famous montage of Paris’ iconic Arc de Triomphe makes this movie a great watch to this day.
An American in ParisBefore Chazelle made Los Angeles famous as the City of Stars in La La Land, An American in Paris, starring Gene Kelly and Leslie Caron, did the same for the City of Lights in 1951. If you loved the finale montage in La La Land, note that it’s inspired by this classic. In fact, it also inspired the tale Mia tells of an aunt in Paris at one of her many auditions that eventually lands her a starring role. Put simply, the aunt’s narrative is the entire story of An American In Paris, condensed.
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