The student newspaper of Strath Haven High School. The Panther Press is first and foremost a reflection of the opinions and interests of the student body. For this reason, we do not publish any anonymous or teacher-written submissions, and we do not discriminate against any ideology or political opinion. While we are bound by school policy (and funding), we will not render any article neutral, although individual points may be edited for obscene or inflammatory content. Finally, the articles published in the Panther Press do not necessarily reflect the views of the editors or advisors.

Panther Press

  • Junior Prom on 4/22!

  • Varsity Arts Ceremony on 4/21

Movies to See Before La La Land

Sofia Sheehan, '17, Editor

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






When I saw La La Land, I began to recognize that this film was not just made by a master film director, but rather by a huge fan of movies himself. It quickly became evident that throughout his modern musical masterpiece are influences from the great films of the past. So, before you see La La Land in theaters, consider seeing the impactful films that gave life to this recent masterpiece and give you just a little bit more context before enjoying the newest movie hit.

The Umbrellas of Cherbourg: In 1964, the world was introduced to this operatic romance masterpiece and the future French superstar, Catherine Deneuve. This has influenced La La Land the most with its color schemes, cinematography, theme music, and even ending. The musical directed by the incomparable, Jacques Demy, follows a young couple in Cherbourg. Guy is a poor boy who works at a gas station and Genevieve works at her mother’s umbrella shop. The two live in a perfect, love filled world until Guy is forced to deploy to fight in Algeria for two years, separating them. Like La La Land, it includes dreamlike imagery but not a dreamlike story. This is all British “Kitchen Sink Realism” stuck in a French musical. Chazelle even includes a subtle nod to the film when Mia shows Sebastian around the lot where there is a French umbrella shop. If you enjoy The Umbrellas of Cherbourg then you should also watch Demy’s next film, The Young Girls of Rochefort which also includes similar dance numbers and production design.

Singin’ in the Rain: Hopefully, you have all heard of this Hollywood Classic. For those who have not seen it, now is the time to get acquainted with it especially since the last of the three stars, Debbie Reynolds, has died just recently. The film tells the story of Hollywood’s biggest actor (played by Gene Kelly) trying to save his career during the transition from silent films to “talkies” while falling in love along the way. Just as Gene Kelly tries to keep his job alive in a changing world, Sebastian tries to keep his career as a jazz musician alive in a world that continuously sees jazz music as elevator or Kenny G music. Both films show us that whether we love it or hate it, Los Angeles is the one place for dreamers.

An American in Paris & Daddy Long Legs: Of course I have to put some more Gene Kelly and Fred Astaire movies on the list! An American in Paris follows Gene Kelly as a starving artist who falls in love with Leslie Caron. Daddy Long Legs follows Fred Astaire as an older heir who falls in love with Leslie Caron. The plots are very predictable and not eccentric but the shots and musical numbers are beautiful and extremely original. Both include dream like sequences of just dance for an extended period of time. Gene Kelly forever revolutionized the American musical movie with this 17 minute jazz ballet and was soon followed by the less innovative but equally entertaining, Daddy Long Legs. La La Land uses these exact extended dream sequences to detail the dreams of Mia & Sebastian.

Top Hat: This is one of the early great American musicals and Damien Chazelle knew when he cast the film that he had to get two people with that “Fred & Ginger” chemistry. Like most musicals of its time, the musical lacks an intricate story. Boy likes girl. Girl doesn’t like boy. Girl likes boy. They have a misunderstanding but all is well in the end. The one thing that Fred & Ginger bring to the table is their banter. When Mia meets Sebastian, she finds him repulsive just as Ginger finds Fred and says so like a true screwball actress, but over the course of a tap number they begin to like each other. In Top Hat, it’s “Isn’t it a Lovely Day to be Caught in the Rain” and in La La Land, it’s “What a Waste of Lovely Night.” Coincidence? I think not.

The Films of Ingrid Bergman: These are not necessarily required viewing in order to understand La La Land, but since Mia’s favorite actress is Ingrid Bergman, I thought I would add a couple titles. Her best is probably the famous, Casablanca. Though a bit outdated, it can still bring tears to my eyes. Notorious is a bit chauvinist (as all Hitchcock films are) but still great fun to see Bergman shed her good girl look and play an alcoholic. During the 50s, she was banned from Hollywood due to her affair with Italian director, Roberto Rossellini, while making the film Stromboli. She was cast as a refugee alongside a man who was not an actor at all but a fisherman. It is very different from her other Hollywood films, but brilliant nonetheless. If you are still interested in Ingrid’s incredibly interesting life then you should also check out Ingrid Bergman:In Her Own Words, a documentary narrated by Alicia Vikander. It finally gives the long needed portrait of an independent woman ahead of her time.

Now hopefully not only will these films improve your viewing of La La Land but they will also provide a glimpse into some of the greatest movies that have come out of Hollywood. Looking to the past at these old hits may even inspire more movies like La La Land, which is something we can all hope for in the future. While La La Land is a film that can be appreciated by all who watch it, these additional old movies will definitely create a viewing experiance of greater depth, understanding, and hopefully enjoyment.

The student newspaper of Strath Haven High School. The Panther Press is first and foremost a reflection of the opinions and interests of the student body. For this reason, we do not publish any anonymous or teacher-written submissions, and we do not discriminate against any ideology or political opinion. While we are bound by school policy (and funding), we will not render any article neutral, although individual points may be edited for obscene or inflammatory content. Finally, the articles published in the Panther Press do not necessarily reflect the views of the editors or advisors.
Movies to See Before La La Land