Six years after winning an Oscar for La La Land, director Damien Chazelle is gearing up for his return to the silver screen with his next feature film, Babylon. This time, he’s taking it back to the golden era of Hollywood, when silent films transitioned into talking pictures.
Of course, with a Hollywood film about Hollywood, the cast was always going to be star-studded. Playing a mixture of fictional and historical characters are Margot Robbie, Brad Pitt, Olivia Wilde, Samara Weaving, Tobey Maguire, Spike Jonze and Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
But what exactly is Babylon all about? Well, the film will mainly focus on the industry’s evolution into sound and how it impacted the careers of stars in the late 1920s. The first trailer revealed that it would celebrate the grandeur of the golden age and the “human cost” of the industry in its infancy.
Chazelle told Vanity Fair that Babylon was inspired by this idea of change and how it would impact the people involved. “Everything is shifting underneath people’s feet and I became really fascinated by the human cost of disruption at that magnitude, at a time when there was no road map when everything was just new and wild,” he said.
He hinted that ambition will be a running theme throughout the movie, and there will be some dark undertones to the hedonistic, party-hard themes. “It was really a wild west period for these people, this gallery of characters, as they rise and fall, rise, fall, rise again, fall again.”
In the film, first trailer, the hedonistic tone of the 3-hour epic was on full display, but it’s in the newly released second trailer that things really ramp up. The early roots of Hollywood — hard-partying, drug-taking chaos — are captured amid a grandiose big band soundtrack and appearances in the trailer for an alligator on a leash, topless women and Pitt fending off fans and falling off a balcony in his underwear. Now we can see why people describe the film as “The Great Gatsby on steroids.”
Pitt stars as Jack Conrad, an ultra-famous silent movie actor who is wondering what the changes in Hollywood will do for his career. Robbie, his former co-star from Once Upon A Time In Hollywood, is Nellie LaRoy, an ambitious young actress who finds herself in the spotlight.
Young starlet LaRoy appears to be the film’s muse and madness, usually on cocaine and at the centre of any party or premiere. The new trailer delves further into the good, bad, and ugly of her career, from standing ovations to icing her nipples off-camera and sobbing on a cold bathroom floor. While the first trailer focused on Robbie’s more decadent antics, the second offers new glimpses of her struggles with drugs, career competition, and her own self-worth.
Babylon will be released in UK cinemas on January 20th 2023.