La La Land Breakdown: Part 1, City of Stars

Two trailers have been released for La La Land, and I’m more in love than ever. The songs are stuck in my head daily, and I find myself humming them or singing at random times. Of course I know all the words, and it’s completely, totally normal and not obsessive. I don’t need your judgement. Anyways, after watching each trailer for the umpteenth time, I started noticing connections and the storytelling going on between two trailers. I’ve been wanting to do a trailer breakdown since the first teaser, “City of Stars,” was released, and “Audition” provided me with a reason to dive deeper.

Before we get started, I’ve seen a few theories floating around that the next trailer could be a duet, taking my musical-loving little heart straight to the grave. I don’t know how I’m supposed to wait until December, but alas. Onward with the tender melodies, let’s dive into hidden layers of these beautiful trailers.

Teaser Trailer #1: City of Stars

lalalandiris

Oh Damien Chazelle, how did you know Iris Shots make me weak in the knees? If there is anything that sets the tone of Classical Hollywood, it is an Iris Shot. But more than anything, these specific shots seem to serve as an introduction to La La Land’s characters. With the far glance of the city and the romantic blue haze that illuminates the setting, Ryan Gosling‘s Sebastian might as well be marked as a Pisces because he is a dreamer. The full sound of piano brushing your ear drums during this scene matches the feeling established in this shot: while LA is crazy beast that can devour you in one bite, it is also a place where dreams begin and the greatest of love stories are born.

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With the sound of sweet humming flirting around, we are officially introduced to our two main characters: Emma Stone‘s Mia and Gosling’s Sebastian. We soon see that it is Gosling’s melody that is gliding us along, dawning on us that this specific trailer is his story.

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smooth

“City of Stars,” the words eagerly flow into the rhythm of the trailer. While this shot is established early on, I have a feeling that this particular scene is towards the end of the movie (more on that later). But the feeling of longing between Stone’s eyes and Gosling’s piano strokes, we know we are in for a story of two lovers.

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What follows next are two dreamy shots of Stone: one where she is making her way through a “chaotic” party, and the other where she is staring longingly out of a cafe window. But just as dreamy as they are, I think it also establishes a strong tone with her character; she’s the one trying to figure out her path.

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Gosling’s character on the other hand seems pretty settled into what his life revolves around: music. It seems fair to say that while Sebastian doesn’t feel like he has struck it big, he is rather comfortable in his way of life. He isn’t trying to reach for more, he’s attained the level of satisfaction that he was aspiring for.

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But Mia is the struggling character that is trying to find her way. Really driving this point home, folks.

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It feels like Sebastian is trying to help Mia establish her way. While this next bit of info is gathered more from pictures, it looks like this matches the setting with them on a date at a movie. If I know my movies like I think I do, that is James Dean and they are seeing Rebel Without a Cause, which totally comes into play later on. Plot wise, this is still early on in the movie and in the relationship. Sebastian helping Mia realize what she wants? Or that she is better than how her circumstances are at the moment?

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The next shots establish a taste of the Hollywood lifestyle, and it feels like maybe Mia is starting to catch her break or maybe just showing Sebastian why acting is important to her. I’m leaning to the former. I bet this is when we start seeing the cracks forming in their bond.

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Continuing her no good, very bad day spirit, Mia is on the next level of fed up. And the huge coffee stain emblazoned on her shirt might be why. Matched in between these two scenes, this feels very out of place. Maybe to fully establish that Mia isn’t where she wants to be in life.

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Because in this shot, it’s back to another reality with Sebastian.

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Because love is real, and the chemistry between Stone and Gosling is palpable. I haven’t even seen the movie and I can feel the Katharine Hepburn, Cary Grant vibes through my monitor. Maybe I’m crazy, but this movie is an ode to Classical Hollywood and an open love letter to Los Angeles. And these scenes, in their simplistic form, scream the film bonds that have eluded us for such a long time.

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This feels like the peak of their relationship. Mia is starting to blossom as an actress, her makeup and clothing has already started to change. Sebastian looks like he is in the prime of his career. They’re happy. Who knew…

dreamlike

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Is this the start of something wonderful and new? All these glitzy shots of their beautiful relationship. From the riches of blues, to the brightness of the day and we end on an subtle red hue that is creeping into their love story. While this musical might be based on some of the golden eras of film, it seems like this will match place with real life struggles and triumphs, meaning it won’t venture too far into the dreamland of musicals past.

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Leaving this scene to echo of a couple that is no longer in the company of one another. Why? Gosling is a hot mess, his hair no longer groomed as it was before. Stone is starting to look the full transition of an actress who has arrived at her big break. Coming to reminiscence over her long lost lover, Mia sees the mess that was caused by her departure.

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Glistened up by their lighthearted melody, the series of shots end with Mia running away down the middle of the street. I also want to highlight that it is snowing in this scene, or maybe it’s leftover glitter from the one before. Or one last dream…

fuckedup

frontflip

That I cannot make true. Although these are a lot of highly stylized shots of Stone and Gosling, I’m fairly confident this pool shot is Finn Wittrock‘s Greg. This feels like it might be the same party we see Mia entering towards the beginning of the trailer.

observatory

Sidetrack from the last few shots suggesting sorrow, we enter into the Observatory. The same one from Rebel Without a Cause. My heart beats with excitement for these little nods to the classical era.

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Then it explodes when it feels like it is reaching Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers territory. Side note: I’m a huge Astaire and Rogers fan, and I feel like La La Land has played on their dynamic more than any other of the Classical Hollywood duos.

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Insert Gosling to tell us his story is coming to an end (for now).

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Which leads us to mirage of dazzling shots, including the introduction of John Legend‘s Keith. Please note, that Legend’s character is the only supporting character to have a established introduction. Of these shot, my favorite is the top one, which seems to be a continuation of their first date. They look like they are running through a Monet styled painting. My hope is that the bottom picture lead us in to the closing of the trailer.

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Before we get to that, Gosling and Stone get their last look at each other. This seems to be from the scene where I felt like they were no longer together. My hopes that this is the climax of the movie, and not the actual ending.

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Because if there is one thing that is imperative to a Classical Hollywood movie, it is an over-the-top happy ending. But perhaps this isn’t a Classical Hollywood movie, it is just a nod to a genre that is no more.

LaLaLand

So let’s tie my jumbled mess of thoughts together. Gosling’s Sebastian sings of falling in love with Stone’s Mia. He feels like she is a gift from the galaxy, but fears that she will slip away because nothing in life is guaranteed. Based on the images throughout the trailer, we can probably conclude that they depart from one another for awhile causing Sebastian to slip into self destruction. While the City of Stars can cause broken hearts, it is also known as the City of Dreams, leaving me to believe that they find their way back to each other. Point of the story? No matter how much you may be struggling in life, it is better to struggle together than struggle alone. There’s a hidden magic when you are in the company of the one you love. And with that:

This is Sebastian’s take on La La Land.

Next up, La La Land’s “Audition” Teaser Trailer.

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