Newest Review: ... and know all the songs and most of the script. I have no intention of stopping watching it and will pop the DVD on whatever mood I'm in a... more
A bohemian flight of fantasy
Moulin Rouge! (DVD)
Member Name: Renza_e
Moulin Rouge! (DVD)
Date: 30/05/10, updated on 30/05/10 (69 review reads)
Advantages: The beautiful Ewan McGregor, cast, musical numbers, choreography, cinematography and more!
Disadvantages: I would avoid it if you're not a fan of musicals. It may not be to your liking.
Last decade brought us the revival of the film musical - Chicago, Dreamgirls, Sweeney Todd, Rent and Hairspray, to name but a number of the best. Arguably, Moulin Rouge was the success story which triggered this film musical revival.
Upon its DVD release, Moulin Rouge became a bit of an obsession of mine. I watched it every day after school for several weeks after I first saw it. I eventually gave it a rest after I realized I was living in my own little Moulin Rouge fantasy world and was probably driving my parents a little insane.
I still love the film today. Some will not agree with me. Opinions on the film are not without a smattering of complaints as critic reviews suggest. Some people cannot stand the film.
Essentially, the film tells the story of a poor English writer, Christian (Ewan McGregor) and a beautiful courtesan, Satine, who fall in love at the Parisian night club Moulin Rouge. Their love, however, is one that is marred not just by the fact that she makes her living attending to the pleasures of wealthy men but because she is pushed into attending to the pleasures of a wealthy duke - a new financier of the club. However, it does seem that there is a lot more going on than this alone. Driving the story are layers of song, dance and a vibrant kaleidoscope of colourful scenery and costumes. It is a film that is so energetic and rich it NEEDS an exclamation mark. Undoubtedly, people may find the film to be a little bit too much, even a little bit nauseating for the senses, particularly if they are not a fan of musicals. There are those who complain that it is merely a pop culture panache, throwing together a bunch of contemporary songs with only one original song in order to make an excuse of a musical.
However, I feel that those who voice these criticisms have missed the point of the film which is pure entertainment. It is clearly a film which is heavily romanticized, driven by an idealistic notion of love and it's absurdly fantastical. Nevertheless, it is still brilliantly entertaining. Fin de siècle Bohemians didn't see visions of a Kylie Minogue green fairy when they had their absinthe and people don't usually go about bursting into song to express their emotions. It's exactly what a musical should be - camp, bold and out of touch with reality but able to engage with our emotions.
Moulin Rouge allows us to revisit the spectacle which musicals used to be. - lavish affairs with rich and vibrant costumes and set designs. Moreover, it is done in Baz Luhrmann's unique style - I was and am still blown away by his imagination - the creativity of the man is dazzling. Just as he transported Shakespeare into a modern setting in 'Romeo + Juliet' he has catapulted the musical into the 21st century. The mix of live action, CGI and ambitious camera shots creates a visual feast. It is for this reason that this film really stands out and I fail to think of an example of any other film which is so rich, creative and fantastical as Moulin Rouge.
*~Song and Dance~*
As for the music, Moulin Rouge does borrow from various rock and pop hits of the past 60 years but it does so in such an ingenious manner. Only in this film will you hear people make a song and dance of Nirvana's 'Smells Like Teen Spirit' and only in this film can you find such a well put together tribute to some of last century's best love songs in the space of four minutes. Each song is carefully chosen in Moulin Rouge to suit the scene and each song is more than a mere cover. 'Hindi Sad Diamonds' for example, takes 'Diamonds are a Girl's Best Friend' and gives it a bollywood makeover. The musical producer really has done a wonderful job on putting together the musical numbers and each actor seems to bring something special to everything they sing. In addition to this, there is Craig Armstrong's original song 'Come What May'. This is Christian and Satine's love theme and is an enchanting song and probably one of the best musical features in the film.
Each musical number is also complemented by amazing choreography. Whoever was in charge of the dance, I applaud them. The Tango de Roxanne, for example, shows that, even when the scene is stripped of colour and flamboyant costumes, the choreography and skill of the dancers is amazing...
*~The Characters & Cast~*
Who knew that Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor could not only act but sing. The minute McGregor first opens his mouth to sing a line from 'The Sound of Music' I melted. Moulin Rouge is where my love for him began - his mischievous grin, his shy vulnerability and his voice. That man should sing more often! Even if he didn't sing that well he could carry a song on the basis of charisma and good looks alone (A bit like Heath Ledger in '10 Things I hate about you').
Kidman also appears to know how to carry a song. Never have I seen the actress so alluring and glamourous. Her version of 'One Day I'll Fly Away' is both delicate and powerful. As an actress I've never understood criticisms of Kidman. She has always struck me as a versatile and talented actress. The role of Satine seems perfect for her. With her voice and beauty, she reminds of a classic film star throughout. In addition to this, Kidman and McGregor have amazing chemistry, quite possibly one of the best screen couple chemistries in a long time. You really believe that they love each other.
The rest of the cast is also rather brilliant. Jim Broadbent plays the loud and jolly proprietor of the Moulin Rouge, Harry Zidler, which suits Broadbent to a tee. The villain of the film, the duke (Richard Roxburgh), is also rather fantastic - he manages to embody a whole host of detestable characteristics - pitable and pathetic with an ugly little wiry moustache and quivering mouth. Throughout the film he's like a pantomine villain but he becomes increasingly more sinister when he soon discovers that his desire for Satine is not reciprocal.
*~The DVD Extras~*
Being such a fan of the film, I got the 2-disc DVD set and it is definitely worth the money. The 2nd disc is packed full of behind the scenes features including deleted scenes, screen tests, cast interviews and the making of the film. I particularly enjoyed the feature which allowed you to view the 'Tango de Roxanne' from various angles. The extras on the second disc are very interesting for the fan and show just how much work was put into this film.
I adore Moulin Rouge. It tops my list of favourite films. It is a film which excels in terms of song, choreography and story-line. It is an engaging film which takes you through many emotions. One minute you will be laughing and next you will be welling up in tears (prepare the hankies for the finale). It is a film which has resonances of the old-style musical and gives it a modern edge. It is a fitting homage of classic musicals and hits of the past half-century. It is a beautifully crafted film done in Baz Luhrmann's unique exuberant style and I would recommend it to any fan of musicals.
*~Thanks for reading :) x ~ Also published on Ciao, May 2010~*
Summary: A musical for the 21st century