Moulin Rouge!


Director: Baz Luhrmann
Writer: Baz Luhrmann and Craig Pearce
Released: 2001
Starring: Jim Broadbent, Nicole Kidman and Ewen McGregor

“Truth, beauty, freedom and love.”

I have never been a fan of sappy romance, and I still am not. Because Moulin Rouge! is not at all sappy or unbelievable, nor does the music break the suspension of disbelief. I think that it is because the acting is not over the top or overly theatrical at all.

Ewan McGregor plays the protagonist, Christian, a writer who wants to write about love, but with one problem being that he has never been in love. That is until he meets Nicole Kidman’s character, Satine, a courtesan at the Moulin Rouge. Satine is forbidden to fall in love, so they must keep their relationship secret.

Christian_SatineUnfortunately, the fairytale romance unravels due to the Duke (Richard Roxburgh)  – an investor in Satine and the Moulin Rouge – attempts to put an end to their love affair. Christian and Satine’s love turns into a concoction of “desire, suspicion, jealously, anger and betrayal”.

Yet, “the show must go on!”, as a beautiful parallel between the new production that the Moulin Rouge is performing called Spectacular, Spectacular and the couple’s forbidden love is intertwined with the on stage play resulting in disastrous consequences.

Moulin-Rouge-moulinIt is, however, full of high energy! It feels like you’re right there in the Moulin Rouge with them. The lighting is incredible with Baz Lurhmann‘s trademark choppy edits and steadicam footage. This all added to the excitement on the dance floor with the colourful dresses and cabaret dancers.

Want an idea of what I mean? Watch this scene at the beginning of Moulin Rouge!:

In among this is the serious and unfortunate events for each character which is again reflected in lighting and music with very fantastical scenes. Some are metaphors such as the feeling of being on top of the world being acted somewhat literally. Plus, the over all performance by the people who run the Moulin Rouge show such as Jim Broadbent‘s character Harold Zidler, who although a father figure to Satine, has the priority of keeping the facarde of the shows convincing to the paying customers which is at the expense of Satine’s love for Christian.

ewan_moulinrougeThe music is fantastic! It’s not songs that describe the mundane things that the characters are doing but in sing-song, it’s actually modern songs by incredible artists such as Bowie, Rufus Wainwright and Elton John as well as bands such as T.Rex, Queen and Nirvana, in an orchestral fashion, and/or medley mash-up of multiple songs, sometimes in a Satine-Moulin-Rouge-femaleMoulin Rouge party style.

I have many favourite songs in this film including Your Song originally written and performed by Elton John and The Show Must Go On originally by Queen. But I have to say, I prefer the Moulin Rouge! version of every song. Elephant Love Medley is very cleverly put together with lyrics from various songs including All You Need Is Love by The Beatles, Silly Love Songs  by Wings and Hero by Bowie, the collage of twelve infamous songs is seamless!

See if you can pick out various lines from the different songs. It really picks up 2 minutes in, which is my favourite part of the song:

An example of the more serious scenes is the El Tango de Roxanne scene where some of the best dancing shown. Absolutely amazing lighting too.

Moulin Rouge! is a tragedy that reminds me of a Shakepeare play, – ironic since the director Baz Lurhmann also directed Romeo + Juliet (1996) – but the sincere romance is based within the “underworld” of cheap, make-believe love. It is layered with so much detail to notice in every scene.

Forget that it’s a musical, it’s more of a movie with a ton of music in it. Each song sung very well by Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor and with convincing sincerity to keep the audience hooked. Moulin Rouge! is a pretty heavy and emotional story – so certainly not a movie you would unwind to, despite there being some comedic scenes that almost mock the life of theatre. However, I think there is something in this film for every person to appreciate whether it’s the incredible costumes, the music, the romance or Ewan McGregor’s face.


That face…

This has always been in my top five favourite movies, its uplifting wonderland of a set as well as a deeply moving story acted out by authentic and convincing actors. Clearly, romance is not everybody’s cup of tea – it certainly isn’t mine – but this is not just another silly Hollywood love story.

Jodie’s rating: 9.5/10
Pretty close to being a ten. However, due to having to be in the right kind of mood to watch it means it is not always convenient. Plus, there’s a couple of songs that are a bit average.

This is the WORST trailer of all time. That voice over is ridiculous. Seriously, this makes it look like Moulin Rouge! sucks. Which it doesn’t. You should see it.


About Jodie (NZ Film Freak)

I am a journalism graduate (2014) from New Zealand. I enjoy writing on my blog about films and songs, plus the odd random thought. Currently working as a writer in UK. Follow me on Twitter @NZFilmFreak and like my Facebook page NZ Film Freak. Follow my travels around the world
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11 Responses to Moulin Rouge!

  1. Popeye says:

    Romance, comedy, danger, and music – all rolled into one colouful jolly jape that’s worth watching again and again (in that order).

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