Damien Chazelle Considers Babylon A ‘Darker Companion Piece’ To Singin’ In The Rain [Exclusive]

Chazelle admits that “Singin’ in the Rain” is one of his favorite movies, and that he hadn’t considered the painful silent-to-sound transition that 1920s Hollywood was forced to make until he saw it. When he started doing his own research into the era, however, he found a litany of death and misery. Through his own studies, Chazelle discovered that many, many careers were ruined by the introduction of sound and that some people in Hollywood even ended their own lives over the tumult. In his words, real-life saw “an entire way of life and way of making movies really being obliterated.”

Chazelle then blended the real-life opulence and misery of ’20s Los Angeles with the fantasy of “Singin’ in the Rain,” creating the excitable animal that is “Babylon.” In his words: 

“[I]t felt like there could be space for this almost darker companion piece. Someone joked the other day to me — I want to steal it now — [that “Babylon” is] the evil cousin or evil twin to what had been depicted before. I think that got me going and got me looking at the period in a different way, and then really looking at what came before sound and looking at the insanity of the period that preceded it and realizing, in some ways, that the reason that sound was such a cataclysmic event for this society was that it was such a seat-of-your-pants, circus-like society […].”

The film industry was already nearly 20 years old at that point, and the glorious world of pre-Depression America did indeed allow for “the wild wealthy” to emerge. These days, one can find any number of historical exposés about the mad sex parties of the jazz age. 

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