How ‘Babylon’ Roars Through the 1920s

The writer-director Damien Chazelle and the production designer Florencia Martin discuss how they captured the excess of a period when Hollywood was heading for a reckoning.

After he turned the streets of Los Angeles into a playground and a dance floor for the musical “La La Land,” you might think the writer and director Damien Chazelle would have little left to mine from the location.

But it’s a big, big city.

His latest film, “Babylon” (out Dec. 23), aims to be even more extravagant in capturing the indulgent, mythical nature of the place where starry dreams are made (and dashed). It follows multiple characters through a period in the 1920s when Hollywood, high on the success of silent films, began experiencing growing pains and significant collateral damage from the transition into the sound era.

But before those problems set in, very little about the period, or the way it is portrayed in this film, is scaled back. Instead, Chazelle and his team want to capture what it might have been like to be swirling around in the excess of those early days, when the movies were silent but the living was not.

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