he undisputed critical darling of the 2016 Awards season, Damien Chazelle’s La La Land is the first original movie musical that Hollywood has seen in years. The film wowed audiences worldwide with its spectacular choreography and eye-popping color palette, but it was the jazz-infused musical numbers that constituted the film’s beating heart. While some critics praised the film for its originality, eagle-eyed musical theater fans have noted the movie musical allusions peppered throughout the numbers.
Rather than seeing the film as a complete cinematic innovation, then, the view of The Evening Standard‘s David Sexton is perhaps the most apt: “They don’t make films like this anymore? [Chazelle] just did.” With several near-replications of scenes from movie musicals from several decades of Hollywood – among them Top Hat (1935), Broadway Melody of 1940 (1940), Singin’ in the Rain (1952), West Side Story (1961), Sweet Charity (1969), and Moulin Rouge (2009), – is La La Land innovative in its intertextuality, or derivative in its repetition? Watch our video below and decide for yourself.