In his analysis of the Babylon catastrophe, Deadline‘s Anthony D’Alessandro writes that Paramount, the financing studio, thought that Damien Chazelle‘s 1920s Hollywood-in-transition epic would basically be The Wolf of Wall Street meets Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.

I’m sorry but whoever told that to D’Alessandro is either lacking in perception or, you know, a bullshitter.

Any Paramount exec who’d read Chazelle’s script (I read a 2019 draft) knew from the get-go that it was basically a vulgar Fellini Satyricon meets a 1920s Wolf of Wall Street, but minus the Scorsese-DiCaprio humor, charm, irony and the Tarantino wit and charisma…basically a general atmosphere of toilet-bowl downswirl. It was obvious on the page that none of it was funny like, for example, Scorsese and DiCaprio’s big quaalude scene.

It was obviously going to be a big-canvas Hollywood Guernica…a tour of orgiastic behavior (the emphasis was less on filmmaking and much more on drinking, cocaine-snorting and other degenerate indulgences) and stylistically intensified by whatever directorial panache Chazelle could muster. It’s a story about two major self-absorbed characters (Margot Robbie‘s Nellie LaRoy and Brad Pitt‘s Jack Conrad) suffering through the silent-to-sound transition period, and a neutral observer character (Diego Calva‘s Manny Torres) who doesn’t fare all that well either.