Moulin Rouge (2001)
Review by HTQ4

Written by Baz Luhrmann & Craig Pearce
Directed by Baz Luhrmann
Starring Ewan McGregor, Nicole Kidman, John Leguizamo, Jim Broadbent, Richard Roxburgh


Anamorphic: Yes.

My Advice: Own It.

Baz Luhrmann has done the impossible. He has made a popular mainstream movie musical in the 21st Century! "How did he do this," you might ask? He created a world in which it is perfectly believable that people break out into song (complete with orchestral accompaniment).

It’s 1899, and the Bohemian Revolution is in full swing. Christian (McGregor) is a young writer come to Paris from London in search of the Bohemian lifestyle, but winds up with more than he bargains for. He hooks up with a band of Bohemians led by Toulouse-Lautrec (Leguizamo) who are writing a stage show called “Spectacular, Spectacular” and are looking for benefactors. In a very short time, Christian finds himself writing the show. They go to the Moulin Rouge in the hopes of getting Harold Zidler (Broadbent), the owner of the Moulin Rouge to front the money and give them a place to perform. While they are enjoying the show, Christian falls in love with Satine (Kidman). Zidler, sets her up with a rendezvous with the Duke of Monroth (Roxburgh), but a classic Switcheroo® takes place and Christian finds himself in a private chamber, a larger than life elephant which is part of the Moulin Rouge compound. Another musical number and a classic scene of Hide the Lover® later and Satine finds herself falling in love with Christian. The Duke fronts the money for the new show and a new theatre, but his only stipulation is that he have exclusive rights to Satine’s services.

Rather than trying to write new songs to tell his story, Luhrmann instead draws straight from the pop culture of today and uses songs that we heard on the radio even just last week. Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” Madonna’s “Material Girl,” and Styne & Robin’s “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend” all blend beautifully to tell the story of the Moulin Rouge itself. The raw decadence of the gentlemen who frequent the club and the sumptuous super-stardom of the Moulin Rouge dancers is all but rammed dancing and singing down your throat through the fast-paced driving beat of Fatboy Slim’s remix of the Can-Can. All of the music works. In fact, it works so well, when the score’s one original song is sung, you can’t really differentiate it from the other recognizable tunes. I find it hard to make such a big deal about Ewan McGregor and Nicole Kidman singing the parts themselves, because it is what should have been expected. If you are going to make a movie musical, why not hire actors who can sing? It seems elementary to me. The fact that everyone else has made such a big deal out of it does nothing but speak to the fact that Hollywood usually takes the easy way out and dubs the singing parts in so they can get an actor that looks good on screen.

Arguably the best feature of this double-disc DVD set is the mini-documentary about the writing and directing of this movie. The bit that stands out in my mind the most is Luhrmann’s comment about the fast pace at which this movie changes gears. The deleted dance sequences are a visual treat when they stand by themselves, but after watching them, you certainly thank Mr. Luhrmann and his editor for cutting them down. The Making Of featurettes show the making of the some of the outstanding digital effects to create the “Punch and Judy Show” feel of some of the sequences. The “Behind the Red Curtain” is a Matrix style “Follow the White Rabbit” version of the movie. Instead of the “White Rabbit,” you get to click on the “Absinthe Girl.”

This DVD set is a wonderful presentation of the world of this movie. My only complaint is purely selfish. I love gag reels. I wish every DVD was forced by law to provide a gag reel. I don’t know why I do, but I do. Call me weak, call me shallow, call me Mr. Tibbs, but I love them. Everything else about this DVD is top notch. Even if you haven’t seen the movie yet, add it to your collection, you won’t be sorry.

Buy it on DVD Amazon! (UK) (CAN)
Buy the illustrated book from Amazon! (UK) (CAN)
Buy the soundtrack from Amazon! (UK) (CAN)

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