In this section of our Colossus Movie Guide for La La Land, we look at important motifs that help us understand the film.
- Ryan Gosling – Sebastian “Seb” Wilder
- Emma Stone – Amelia “Mia” Dolan
- John Legend – Keith
- J. K. Simmons – Bill
- Rosemarie DeWitt – Laura Wilder
- Finn Wittrock – Greg
- Callie Hernandez – Tracy
- Sonoya Mizuno – Caitlin
- Jessica Rothe – Alexis
- Tom Everett Scott – David
- Damien Chazelle – Writer and director
Important motifs in La La Land
Jazz music is another essential motif in the film. Jazz not only serves as the backdrop for Mia and Sebastian’s love story but also represents the passion, creativity, and authenticity that both characters strive for in their respective careers. Sebastian’s dedication to jazz is evident in scenes like his argument with Keith about the future of the genre and his dream to open a jazz club. The music itself also plays a significant role in shaping the film’s overall mood and atmosphere, with songs like “City of Stars” capturing the romance and magic of their love story.
Dreams and Aspirations
Dreams and aspirations form a central theme in La La Land. Mia and Sebastian are portrayed as dreamers who are passionate about their respective crafts. Mia, an aspiring actress, struggles to land an acting role and create a meaningful career in Hollywood. Sebastian, on the other hand, dreams of opening his own jazz club. The film delves into the challenges of pursuing one’s dreams, as shown by the numerous auditions Mia goes through, as well as Sebastian’s financial struggles to maintain his artistic integrity. One significant moment that highlights this motif is when Mia performs “Audition (The Fools Who Dream),” illustrating the importance of dreams, no matter how absurd they may seem.
The use of color is a crucial motif in La La Land. The movie employs a bright and vivid color palette, which not only adds to its visual appeal but also serves to represent the emotions of the characters. For example, the colors of Mia’s dresses often match her emotional state: her yellow dress during “A Lovely Night” represents her blossoming feelings for Sebastian, while her green dress during “Someone in the Crowd” signifies her hope for success in Hollywood. The color palette also evokes a sense of nostalgia, connecting the movie to the classic Hollywood musicals it pays tribute to.
Nostalgia is a recurring motif in La La Land, with the movie often paying homage to the golden age of Hollywood musicals. The film’s opening sequence, “Another Day of Sun,” sets the tone with a vibrant dance number reminiscent of classic musicals. This motif is also evident in the film’s visual style, such as the scene where Mia and Sebastian dance in the Griffith Observatory, reminiscent of the iconic scene in Rebel Without a Cause. Additionally, Sebastian’s passion for traditional jazz highlights his nostalgia for the past and his desire to preserve the purity of the genre.
Love and Sacrifice
The movie explores the idea of love and sacrifice through the relationship between Mia and Sebastian. As the two fall in love, they also face the challenge of balancing their aspirations with their love for each other. A poignant scene depicting this motif is when Sebastian misses Mia’s one-woman play because of a photo shoot with his band, highlighting how the pursuit of dreams can sometimes demand personal sacrifices. Their ultimate decision to part ways so they can fully pursue their individual careers emphasizes the complex nature of love and the sacrifices it may require.
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