The six-time Oscar-winning musical La La Land has one of the most inventive endings in recent film history, thanks to its resurrection of an old Hollywood trope: the dream ballet. In this featurette from the home video release of La La Land (available in Digital HD April 11 and on DVD and Blu-ray April 25), director Damien Chazelle explains how that unforgettable epilogue came to be. Warning: Spoilers follow.
“I knew that I wanted the movie to end with them not together, but seeing each other again after some time had passed. In that case, I was chasing The Umbrellas of Cherbourg. It’s my favorite movie ending of all time,” Chazelle explains, citing the 1964 French musical about young lovers played by Catherine Deneuve and Nino Castelnuovo.
His other desire for the ending was to complete his love story — about two Los Angeles dreamers, actress Mia (Emma Stone) and jazz musician Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) — in a music-and-dance sequence, much like the dream ballets in classic musicals like Singin’ in the Rain, The Bandwagon, and An American in Paris.
“It’s incredible to think today that the dream ballet was actually a thing in Hollywood. Mainstream Hollywood movies would do this as a regular thing in the ’50s and ’60s,” he explains. “It’s this incredible moment in movie history where the pinnacle of commercial, business-minded, factory-system moviemaking coincided with the most avant-garde experimental approach to cinema you can possibly imagine. It’s never happened since in movie history.”