I absolutely love Moulin Rouge. I have never seen anything at all like this movie; it is nothing short of indescribable. Previews and descriptions offer only the smallest glimpse into the epic world of intense human emotion, amazing sets, and incredible music that is Moulin Rouge. The setting is Paris in 1900, where the Moulin Rouge is the place to be, a spectacularly unreal world wherein inhibitions are left at the door and beauty, truth, freedom, and love are pursued on an epic scale. Ewan McGregor plays Christian, a young, idealistic, penniless poet who has come to Paris to embrace the bohemian spirit flourishing there. He soon finds himself writing songs for a lavish production alongside a truly unforgettable cast of characters led by Toulouse Lautrec (John Leguizamo). His new friends are awestruck by the lines and lyrics he comes up with, all of which are drawn from the pop culture of our own modern day. A shot of absinthe and a vision of the Green Fairy (played by the lovely Kylie Minogue) later, he finds himself inside Moulin Rouge. Harold Zidler (Jim Broadbent) leads the way for one of the most lavish musical production numbers ever created on film, topped off by the appearance of Satine (Nicole Kidman) on a huge swing above the amazingly enthusiastic audience. Despite the odds, Christian and Satine fall in love, but they must keep their love hidden because the club's wealthy patron, The Duke (Richard Roxburgh), wants Satine for himself and is willing to make her the real actress she longs to be in return for her affections. I was rather surprised to discover such a deeply emotional tale at the heart of this movie; it is a beautiful but tragic love story that outshines even the incredibly lavish production numbers for which this film is most famous.
I love musicals, but I had come to doubt the ability of modern moviemakers to make one worth seeing. What director Baz Luhrmann has done is to actually reinvent the musical as audiences know it. It sounds strange to say that the music for a movie set in 1900 consists of modern pop, opera, hip-hop, and other songs of the late twentieth century, but it really works beautifully and draws the modern viewer more deeply into the world of "real artificiality" Luhrmann succeeded in creating. If you had asked my thoughts on having two guys who look like David Spade and Rip Taylor singing Madonna's Like a Virgin in a movie, I would have laughed you out the door, yet it actually works in Moulin Rouge. Each of the terrific songs included here does serve rather than detract from the story itself. Ewan McGregor and Nicole Kidman do actually sing their own songs, it is important to note, and I was amazed to discover that Kidman's singing voice is as beautiful as she is herself. Dialogue alone could never manufacture the power unleashed by the music of Moulin Rouge, and the great tragedy of the story is made even more poignant by songs such as the haunting Come What May. Don't think this movie uses its garish production numbers as a means of hiding a weak story because the love story of Christian and Satine is nothing short of breathtaking, heartbreaking, and somehow wondrously beautiful all at the same time.
A terrific movie deserves a terrific DVD release, and Moulin Rouge features more extras than I could even watch all at once. When you watch the movie, you will marvel at the sets and costumes and wonder how on earth this movie was made. There are features on just about every aspect of the making of Moulin Rouge included on Disc Two. I love the commentaries and interviews, but what I really love are the uncut dance sequences. The dance numbers in this movie are just beautiful and beyond amazing, but they cannot be shown uncut in the film itself because things are happening story-wise at the same time and those scenes take precedence over the dances. Here, not only can you watch each of these musical production numbers in its completeness, you can even watch each one from multiple camera angles.
I know there are some people who dismiss this movie out of hand because it is a musical or because the hedonistic themes revealed in the movie previews give the impression of gaudiness over substance. This is not a musical in the traditional sense of the word, and the sets, while opulently lavish, are actually less stunning than the plot itself. This is a love story for the ages, sprinkled with comedy but dominated by the deepest of human emotions. Even though I was interested in this movie from the time it was released, I myself did not expect story itself to be as powerful and moving as it is. Moulin Rouge is, in almost every conceivable way, one of the best motion pictures I have ever seen.
on December 5, 2001
I won't be reviewing the movie much except to say that I enjoyed it tremendously. The music, the choreography and the sets were wonderful.
I will just say a few things about the DVD edition. For one thing, it is given in it's original aspect ratio of 2.35:1 and not cut to 1.85:1 as stated in Amazon's website. It is an anamorphic transfer (enhanced for 16x9 widescreen TVs), although there is no mention of this on the box cover, or anywhere inside for that matter.
The casing unfortunately is a flimsy cardboard affair which cracked at the edges when I opened it.
The print used for the transfer is practically flawless and the picture quality is generally quite good. There is however quite a bit of edge enhancement seen in various scenes, especially the darker ones.
The sound is sumptuous and comes in both 5.1 Dolby Surround and 5.1 DTS.
The DVD had a tendency to default to displaying the subtitles when played on my RealMagic Hollywood Plus player but this wasn't a problem on other DVD players.
The extras make up the second of this 2 disc set and they alone are worth the price of the DVD. Unfortunately none of the material here has been enhanced for 16x9 TVs. There's a half hour documentary on the making of Moulin Rouge. There are separate interviews with all the main stars. There are full rehearsal sequences for all the major dance numbers. There are also sequences in the choregraphy section, of Ewan McGregor and Nicole Kidman rehearsing their dance routines and clowning around. There are extended sequences for all the major dance numbers and there are multiple camera angle shots for all these numbers. This allows you to view the dances from whatever position you like. Fascinating. Unfortunately the camera angle thingie works in a small window and not full screen.
The deleted scenes segment contains alternate sequences for several scenes. The "Come What May" sequence includes scenes of the lovers rowing on a lake and of the them in a hot air balloon a la "Around the World In Eighty Days". The "Dance Across The Sky" sequence is longer with heavier use of animation. There is also an extended Can Can Sequence and an alternate Green Fairy Sequence.
There is also a mini documentary showing Kylie Minogue rehearsing for her role as the Green Fairy. This is tucked away under the "Design" section in a sub-section under that titled "Smoke and Mirrors".
There are numerous other short documentaries on the special effects, costumes, artwork etc used to create the show and tonnes of photographs.
The music videos section includes a glorious full screen version of the Lady Marmalade music video which has razor sharp images compared to some of the other material here. There is also a live performance of Lady Marmalade taken from the MTV Awards which looks soft and almost blurry by comparison. After that there is a letterbox version of the "Come What May" video, the one featuring the insistent underlying thumping rhythm. For those who don't like this version, you can go to the Japanese Movie Trailer (it's in english) which features "Come What May" with a standard orchestral accompaniment.
This DVD release is fully packed and aside from the edge enhancement problem would be fully worthy of five stars.
on June 8, 2004
Most people I know either love or hate MOULIN ROUGE. People who are sticklers for accuracy probably won't like this DVD because it doesn't portray either Paris or Montmarte's "Moulin Rouge" accurately. That was fine with me. I loved the fact that MOULIN ROUGE is a fantasy and a very romantic one at that.
MOULIN ROUGE is the story of Christian (Ewan McGregor), a penniless writer who dreams of penning a play that will be performed at the "Moulin Rouge." It is Toulouse-Lautrec, himself (John Leguigamo) who gets Christian an interview with Satine (Nicole Kidman), the "Moulin Rouge's" star. When Christian meets Satine, he falls in love immediately, but even though Satine returns his love, everything isn't sweetness and light for this star-crossed pair. Christian isn't the only man vying for Satine's love. A wealthy duke (Richard Roxburgh) has promised the "Moulin Rouge's" owner, Zidler (John Broadbent) that if he wins the hand of Satine, both Zidler and the "Moulin Rouge" will have nothing to worry about ever again. And, even if Satine weren't under pressure from Zidler, she's not entirely healthy.
Despite some over-the-top special effects (like Christian and Satine dancing in the clouds in the midst of stardust), the love story that forms the plot of MOULIN ROUGE is both believable and touching, due to the first-rate work of McGregor and Kidman. Both play young lovers with such a wistful romanticism that it's impossible not to love them and their singing and dancing were not so elaborate as to look "forced." Kidman, especially, shines, and I think her role as Satine has been her best to date.
It's impossible to comment on this DVD without commenting on the music (and MOULIN ROUGE is a musical). Lurhmann has incorporated "modern" songs into the film, such as "Your Song" and "Roxanne." I know people who hated this aspect of the film, but because it's a fantasy, I loved it and I thought it worked wonderfully.
Despite it's ending, which I didn't mind and, which I think, is inevitable, I think MOULIN ROUGE is a lot of fun. It's a gorgeous, stylish fantasy and yes, there are excesses, but fantasy sometimes requires excess and I think MOULIN ROUGE did. Its production numbers are infused with an energy and love for life that's missing in so many other films, most notably CHICAGO.
Nicole Kidman was so good as the tuberculosis stricken Satine, I would have loved it if she had received her "Best Actress" Oscar for this film rather than for THE HOURS, in which she was equally brilliant, but in a much smaller role.
If you love Paris, fantasy and romance, then you'll probably love MOULIN ROUGE just as I did and definitely want to own it. If, however, you like your DVDs "reality based," then MOULIN ROUGE probably won't be the DVD for you. Whether you like MOULIN ROUGE or not, it really is a brilliant, and brilliantly conceived, film.
on March 19, 2012
A great package. The music is reworked fantastically to fit right in with every scene. The scenes, backgrounds and colours are spectacular and the storyline is sad but brilliantly conveyed.
on May 27, 2004
I could go on and on about Moulin Rouge, as it is one of my all time favs, but don't have the space to do so here. The following is thus some exerts from a paper I wrote on Moulin Rouge shortly after its release. The paper attempts to uncover and discuss what I feel Moulin Rouge is truly about.
Moulin Rouge is an exquisite example of a film that deals with a number of concepts that are highly important within the postmodern world. Quite simply, one of the key components of Moulin Rouge, and possibly the main theme of the film, is its questioning and reaffirming of the value of art within a postmodern culture. According to Jean Baudrillard in his essay "After the Orgy":
"When everything is political, nothing is political any more, the word itself is meaningless. When everything is sexual, nothing is sexual any more, and sex loses its determinants. When everything is aesthetic, nothing is beautiful or ugly any more, and art itself disappears."
Within the postmodern realm described by Baudrillard, art no longer has the value it once did, and whether or not it even has any value at all is a valid question. Moulin Rouge plays on this key notion of postmodern thought throughout the film, as it constantly questions this viewpoint. In order to do so, a number of classic pop-songs are recycled within the construction of the film. The songs (two important examples being "Your Song" by Elton John and "Silly Love Songs" by Wings) are present not only for nostalgic and emotional purposes, but for master-narrative purposes as well, as it is through the use of such songs that the film does its questioning of the post-modern. The songs (which are almost all directly connected to love) are obviously portrayed as still being important based on the lyrics that have been chosen. The most prolific example of this occurs in the medley sequence of the film in which Christian and Satine sing the following songs from "Silly Love Songs":
"You'd think that people would have had enough of silly love longs. But I look around me and I see it isn't so. Some people wanna fill the world with silly love songs. And what's wrong with that? I'd like to know."
Because they play such an important role in the film, the referenced songs, must be seen as advocating that love songs (and on a greater level, the notion of art itself) still have value today within the post-modern realm. Moulin Rouge can thus be seen as attempting to discredit the post-modern ideal at hand.
Yet, at the same time in reconstructing pieces of old songs for a new purpose, the film also employs one of the key aspects of postmodernism. Because Moulin Rouge references and recycles so many ideas, it is in its construction a very post-modern film. Moulin Rouge is thus a postmodern film (in theme and in construction) that in some ways discredits one of the key driving notions behind postmodern thought (that art is dead) at the same time through its narrative choices.
on February 14, 2004
Well, today is Valentine's Day and love is in the air. Now is the time for me to write my long-awaited review for 2001's "Moulin Rouge." Set in the village of Monmarte in 1899, this film brings Baz Luhrmann's visual talents to the forefront, setting the stage for the return of musical cinema. Actor Ewan McGregor portrays a poor English writer named Christian, whose life is changed forever upon entering the Moulin Rouge. Underneath the flashing lights of the red windmill, the wild carnival barker Harold Zidler (Jim Broadbent) proudly presents to the rich an endless night of forbidden pleasures: sex, music, and alcohol. Thanks to the drunken antics of Toulouse-Lautrec (John Leguizamo) and a Narcoleptic Argentinian (Jacek Kaman), Christian falls madly in love with the show's star, Satine (Nicole Kidman). However, their blossoming relationship slowly turns sour due to two terrible facts. First, Satine isn't allowed to fall in love; as a courtesean, she is paid only to make men believe what the want to believe. Second, she is required to sleep with the violent, possessive Duke (Richard Roxburgh), who offers her money and a chance to become a legitimate actress. Soon enough, as she and Christian try desperately to hide the love they share, the vulnerable Satine could no longer hide behind the mask of the smouldering temptress. Then, when the Duke demands the deeds to the Moulin Rouge, she has to either forget Christian forever or risk living off the streets.
Audiences will be astounded by Baz Luhumann's use of dazzling cinematography, breathtaking sets, stunning costumes, and an eclectic score (which roughly incorporates elements of pop, swing, jazz, and opera). The can-can sequence alone was enough to draw me in; the rapid, kinetic editing of this dance number captures the whirlwind excitement of the club in action. Also, the two halves of the story bear the masks of comedy and tragedy, blending together farce, tongue-in-cheek sexual humor, heartwrenching suspense, and the gripping fear of abuse. From beginning to end, every emotion is pushed to the extreme.
However, "Moulin Rouge" is quite problematic in some areas. What I found to be most unfortunate about this movie is how the tale is far too predictable. Viewers will know ahead of time that Satine, the "Sparkling Diamond," will die of tuberculosis. After the tragic ending is revealed at the start of Christian's narration, the woman repeatedly wrestles with the disease, coughing up blood and fainting to the floor. The plotline itself centers around a disastrous love triangle between the beautiful Satine, the kind Christian, and the insanely jealous Duke. Such a concept has been rehashed too many times in television and literature. To make the sitution even more obvious, the real-life events of the three characters reflect Christian's "Spectacular Spectacular," an opulent play about a courtesean having to choose between a traveling sitar player and the cruel Maharajah. Another flaw in "Moulin Rouge" concerns how the songs were structured. Most of the contemporary pop lyrics were messily glued together. As a result, while some musical moments successfully resurrect elements of a Broadway show, other scenes aren't any better than overblown music videos. Finally, despite the fact that bittersweet love is the movie's main theme, it inflates itself to the point of slushiness. Still, there are some incredible moments one can look forward to; Ewan McGregor's performance of Elton John's "Your Song" brought me to tears. Jacek Kaman's tango in Sting's "Roxanne" escalated the tension between Satine and the Duke. Jim Broadbent's soliloquy of Queen's "The Show Must Go On" once again presented the theatre in all its splendor. And, of course, how can I forget Nicole Kidman's daring and carefree modernization of Marilyn Monroe's "Diamonds are a Girl's Best Friend?"
If you are a big fan of grand Broadway musicals, I recommend you try "Moulin Rouge" at least once. It whet the audience's appetite for better musical cinema, allowing "Chicago" to make a bang at the box office. Does anybody care for a glass of absinthe?
on December 10, 2003
With yet one more adaptation of the La Traviata (fallen woman) tale (how many more do we need?), I wasn't expecting much. And I got a little more and a little less than expected. This movie wasn't fabulous and I'm not raving mad about it. It was OK. and just OK. It took me two viewings to enjoy it, and addition of my favorite roommate (a Moulin Rouge-lover) to make it enjoyable.
The plus is Luhrman's comic-book, super-colorful, nearly grotesque blur of action and characters. It is well cast, and Ewan is always cute, and my they all can sing!! And as much as I don't like musicals, this one was not bad. The oddness of incorporating modern songs into this traditional story works surprisingly well.
My big irritation spot with this movie: Nicole Kidman's portrayal of consumption is LAUGHABLE. A couple coughs and some wheezing before she falls on the floor? C'mon, people. If you thought she was really sick and that she could die from THIS affliction, please refer to your medical dictionaries.
As an actress, the stunningly beautiful and talented Kidman is well capable of coughing believably! She just didn't deliver. I blame the director.
TB should have been portrayed as the horrible debilitating disease that it is: racking, painful, horrid-sounding wheezing, phlegmy coughs that make the victim unable to stand much less dance, as well as the presence of Abundant blood, not a couple drops on a hanky, and PAIN and frailty. Fainting daintily isn't something a consumptive would do. Falling down hacking as though they were coughing out a lung would be much more believable. Gaity, drinking, parties and emotional and physical exertion would also bring on these fits. It irritates me that this wasn't well depicted in a movie which centers SOLELY around a consumptive prostitute. In order to breathe even slightly normally after one of these fits, a woman would have had to undo her corset and sit just breathing for a long time. She would not have recovered well otherwise, as the first wheezing scene with Kidman seems to suggest.
Read Dumas fils' Camille: The Lady of the Camellias for the more realistic story.
Or, get cultured and watch the REAL La Traviata (Verdi's opera with Solti conducting, and the beautiful Gheorghiu as a spot-on believable Violetta. find it here at amazon.)
on February 25, 2003
What a frustrating movie! This may be remembered as the film that hastened the return of musicals, and it features dazzling costumes, sumptuous colors, and imaginative film techniques, but there are so many problems that I came away feeling cheated.
It was a creative and daring idea to set a musical in 1900 Montmartre's famed "Moulin Rouge" using contemporary music of the late 20th century. Unfortunately, the film is seriously undermined by the lack of plot development, a contrived romance, and the have-it-both-ways mocking and celebratory treatment of the "Bohemian." The movie alternates between a tongue-in-cheek farce and a serious declaration of the importance of love and other ideals. When the company performs Madonna's "Material Girl" or "Like a Virgin," it plays wonderfully as camp (except for the Duke's ridiculous mugging in the latter song). However, only Jim Broadbent as the master of ceremonies and manager of the nightclub consistently understands the difference between witty camp and lowbrow, diluted, burlesque.
The movie's very promising opening has Toulouse-Lautrec and Satie writing an absurd, avant-garde play, but their original idea for "Spectacular, Spectacular" is co-opted by the financier, the Duke (a buffoonish caricature who is simply too broadly loutish to believe). And yet, Toulouse-Lautrec and Satie still seem to love the production as much as the one they had originally planned. It would have been intelligent and fun to satirize the commercialism of the eventual play, but that opportunity is never taken. Musical tastes will differ, of course, but as the two lovers exchange snippets of love songs of the last 30 or so years, it feels like the pending CD was in mind. The songs that fit best (e.g., "Nature Boy") are repeated ad nauseum. OK, we get it! Kidman and McGregor are excellent given the material (although their characters' romance seems contrived). Both sing well, though Kidman, who often sounds too amped up, is best when singing softer, more intimate songs.
The art direction and sets are beautiful, and there's a luminescent caricature of Montmartre that recalls "Babe, Pig in the City." Techniques reminiscent of early photography and silent movies are superbly done, but limited mostly to the beginning. There are also redundant shots of our woeful hero and the Paris skyline, and so much forced glitter and dazzle that it's like an overdose of the Disney electric parade. Conversely, the cuts are sometimes too quick; one yearns to bathe in more atmosphere. The moments of magic and beauty are too often offset by a banal plot, as well as hollow, self-congratulatory celebrations of freedom, truth, and love. As Satine declares, "diamonds are a girl's best friend," but it feels like box office receipts have the upper hand here.
on November 30, 2002
The woeful acting from Kidman is what lost me, not the sets, costumes, singing, editing which I thought were passable. I am yet to watch Nicole Kidman convince me of a character or her ability to act in any movie she has done. To Die For was her other majorly overacted, overrated attempt that springs to mind. Her method is stoic, forced, almost unnatural. Her screen emotions ALWAYS look like they were read from a teleprompter. She needs to let go and cut with what she "thinks we want" as opposed to letting us see what we want. We NEED to feel it is she who is really crying, dying, laughing, hurting, loving as many wonderful actors are capable of doing. Nicole is just unable to capture my heart or mind in any film she has done. She tries too hard with every line, every look...all heavily exaggerated. A true craftsman should not have to try so hard and when done right it is flawless, effortless and completely natural no matter what the unlikely and corny subject matter (I totally believed Sigourney Weaver was going to kick some Alien ass as Ripley!! Tom Hanks was truly in space making that movie Apollo 13!! For God's sake, I believed the horses in Braveheart were really killed they did such a great job falling down on cue!!) But I cannot believe Nicole Kidman. Funny thing about the word acting. We know you are acting, but we don't want to feel anything other than what we are seeing could be real and true. We simply do not want to see the mechanics of human acting such as emotion and voice training. She is so methodical in her delivery, it is like she is practising pulling faces and lines in front of the mirror.
I am sure she is a lovely person and great Mum to her kids with many other talents to take on the world with.....but she is not an actor. Moulin Rouge is lost in the tragic trash category in my opinion because of her.
on November 21, 2002
Turn-of-the-20th-Century Paris, by way of the iMac, 15 whirling-dervish cameras, and 1,000,000 jump cuts. I knew I would hate *Moulin Rouge* even before I sat down to watch it, if only because Baz Luhrmann and John Leguizamo were involved (Luhrmann and Leguizamo -- Together Again!). Masochistically, I watched the entire film, no matter how often the impulse came over me to simply eject the wretched thing from my DVD player and sail it across the room. The first thing a perceptive film critic will notice about *Moulin Rouge* is the absence of any real can-can dancing throughout the movie's duration, which arguably defeats the whole purpose of making a movie about the Moulin Rouge. Luhrmann's utter lack of taste doesn't retard his commercial savvy, however: he knows that an honest-to-goodness can-can would bore today's audiences, who've been brought up on the gyrating likes of Madonna and Britney Spears. So, out with the can-can; in with the anachronistic slam-dancing and funky r&b-inspired undulations. The same goes for the music. What? -- you think they'd actually use music that was popular 100 years ago? Fuggedaboudit! The aforementioned Madonna is plundered, as is Elton John, Rodgers & Hammerstein, Nirvana . . . basically anything that has "cool" Pop baggage attached to it. The fact that Luhrmann was either unable or unwilling to find songwriters to write original songs for his movie (well, there IS one "original" song, something about a show playing on the boards for 50 years -- dream on, Baz) only illustrates the irrelevance of his attempt to revive a genre that died a natural death decades ago. The notion of simply making a film about a modern-day nightclub would never occur to an "ariste" like Baz. No. He must legitimize his lack of talent by leeching off the illustrious past, whether that past includes the theatrical traditions of the Moulin Rouge OR the Hollywood musical. Of course, all my comments are based on the general IMPRESSION I got from the movie: the damn thing was so insanely edited that the camera never lingers on any one person, set, or tableau for more than a split second. It begs the question: what is Luhrmann afraid of? Why won't he let us LOOK? As it is, the movie is nothing more than a very long music video -- an OVER 2-HOURS-LONG music video. If that's what you want, I recommend *Moulin Rouge". I also recommend to Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor that they should stick to their day-jobs. (Though they'd definitely win 1st-prize on Karaoke Night at my neighborhood bar.)