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Moulin Rouge

2001 musical directed by Baz Luhrman, starring Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor as star-crossed lovers in France.

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Moulin Rouge - 2001

  • Apr 9, 2002
Pros: Most music, most acting, and the costumes

Cons: too loud, too busy, too confusing

The Bottom Line: It is a good love story, there are some unique twists to older songs

When I look at the others, and the credits and awards for this movie I again shake my head and wonder what rock I scurry under to sleep. Beauty? Of course there was beauty – the story of undying love between the head courtesan Satine (Nicole Kidman) and the struggling writer Christian (Ewan McGregor). Not only was their love beautiful, but they are as well.

There was music – it virtually swelled from every fiber of the movie. From the opening chords as the majestic red curtains parted until they swept shut at the conclusion, scarcely 10 minutes passed without someone breaking into music and song. It was a crashing crescendo of sound and lights.

It was opulent, virile, seductive. It bombarded the senses, the very core of your being and thoughts. It urged you to move and shake and shimmy. It brought thoughts of love and desire, longing and pain, and yes, remorse.

Satine, the ‘sparkling diamond’ of the bordello-like Moulin Rouge, wants nothing more than to be an actress. There is a stumbling block in her way. She’s talented, she has looks, body and voice to become so much more but the Rouge is holding her back. As a tawdry dancehall that caters to the wealthy and decadent, she stands little chance to be recognized for other than a well paid lady that makes men believe she loves them.

Watched over and ruled by her pimp, Zidler (Jim Broadbent), her only avenue of escape is to woo the likes of the wealthy and simpering Duke of Monroth (Richard Roxburgh) and convince him to invest in their ‘Spectacular Spectacular’ stage play.

Waiting in the wings is her downfall, in the guise of the writer, Christian, who she mistakes for the Duke. Facing love for the first time in her shoddy life, she must make the choice between becoming an actress and being a woman. But forces beyond her control rule the outcome of this union.

Zidler, in true pimp fashion, sells Satine to the Duke, using Moulin Rouge as collateral, guaranteeing that she will be his on opening night. In the background slithers the Duke’s ‘man servant’ that will kill Christian if things do not go the Duke’s way. Satine makes her choice, in order to save Christian she will go to the Duke.

But ……. the greatest thing you will ever learn is to love and be loved in return …….

In the end, Satine’s heart rules but something even more powerful takes precedent.

So, there you have a great love story, full of promise and song and beauty. But perhaps too much. You are slammed with dizzy, twirling sights and sounds. Whirling skirts and flying acrobats. Slamming music constantly bombarding the ears. Constant scene flips that leaves one confused before realizing ….. ah …… that’s what is meant to be going on.

What I did like was some unique camera angles and shots. When Zidler and Marie tell Satine she is dying, they show a profile of Satine then ever so gently slide the face of Marie into focus behind Satine, except Marie is facing full camera. The juxtaposition of awareness from Satine’s face to the pain of truth in Marie’s is quite nicely done.

Another intriguing angle was the tri-camera shot of Jacek Koman (the narcoleptic Argentinean) singing ‘Roxanne’ while the dancers perform the Tango, Christian is crossing through the dancers singing a much slower (and more melodious) song, the Duke and Satine together in his tower room. The marriage of these three scenes, the temperament, the styling, and the sexual energy really was outstanding.

I purchased the CD long before I watched the movie. I knew this would be fast and thrusting but I never assumed it would be so overwhelming. There were times I could barely adjust from the madness and debauchery of the Rouge to the naiveté of the love between Satine and Christian. For once I did not demand more, but really would have enjoyed less.

There could not have been two more charming people for this movie than Kidman and McGregor. Both possessing very expressive eyes, Luhrmann was wise enough to use this to his advantage with countless closeups. As well, their singing was outstanding and transferred much better in the film than it did on the CD.

Roxburgh, the Duke, worked my last nerve, but I suppose it was intended to do that. The simpering, prissy little snake, I wanted to feed him to the dragons that surely lurk below the confines of the Rouge. Likewise, Broadbent (Zidler) aggravated me to no end. Again, we probably weren’t supposed to like him. If that was the intention in casting these two stars, it worked and worked well.

There was that one little ‘prossy’ that worked the Rouge, I didn’t get her name but she is the one that danced the Tango with Koman and the one that dropped the nickel to the Duke about Christian and Satine. Now I wanted to slap that witch senseless, jealous mean-hearted wench that she was! Sorry, personal rant there.

Obviously this is a well loved movie, awards cascaded over it like ‘sparkling diamonds’. Although I liked the love story woven throughout, I was just overwhelmed. Please don’t tell me to watch it again and give it another chance, I have, but I will recommend it for the music, love and costumes alone. Now, the envelope please:

Nominated - 50 awards it did NOT win. Nominations were from dang near every contingent in the world of awarding. I didn’t know there were that many award ceremonies going on out there in the nether regions.

Won - 49 awards WON.

What surprised me, all the reviews I’ve read, no one talked about the friggin elephant. One of the central features of the dang film, nary a mention. It was the most unique and intriguing home I have ever seen. I loved the outside staircase to the copula on the top, the fact the tail was obviously so long it could be used for anyone that desired to climb it, the color and the naughtiness of it. So there! And why did I think that Toulouse-Lautrec was simply a painter, not also an actor? My shortsightedness boggles even me.


Again – the participants all rated a Bacon #2 – I strive to find a 4 or better (sigh)


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More Moulin Rouge! reviews
review by . November 25, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
**** out of ****    I believe the first Baz Luhrmann film that I ever saw was "Romeo + Juliet". I viewed it in an English class after we had finished reading Shakespeare's legendary play on-paper; and we enjoyed that one (the source material) very much. Most people in the class were, however, divided about how good the movie was; the girls seemed to enjoy Luhrmann's vision the most, while the guys - myself included - were in equally distracting states of both disgust and guilty …
review by . January 06, 2006
Hmmm.........Boy meets girl, boy gets girl, boy loses girl. That's basically the plotline of "Moulin Rouge" in a nutshell, but the way Baz Luhrmann interprets this story on screen has to be seen to be believed. Lots of lavish color, movement, sights and sounds explode on the screen like a Toulouse Lautrec painting on acid. Baz has captured all the excitement and decadence of 1800s Paris, given it a modern twist and reinvented the classic movie musicals of days gone by. And the result? A truly unique …
review by . December 15, 2002
This is a wonderful movie. The music, the acting, the drama, what more can you ask for? Nicole Kidman surprised me withe her performance. I admit at first I was a bit skeptical about the movie. But then I saw it adn it was just wonderful. The soundtrack is just as good. The costumes, the setting makes everything so peculiar. The movie is unique and the acting superb.  "All you'll ever need is love"
review by . March 31, 2002
posted in Movie Hype
Pros: Pretty colors induce a euphoric state, Nicole Kidman is in it     Cons: Where or how did they work up the nerve to destroy those great songs?     The Bottom Line: Hey, folks, shut off the music, I'm getting a headache... Wait, did I say that or write that?      Upon my first viewing of Moulin Rouge, I really didn't know what to think. The only thing I knew for sure was that this was a spectacle if there ever was one. There's lots …
review by . February 14, 2002
posted in Movie Hype
What are the folks out in tinsel land thinking? Moulin Rouge was awful--yes, just awful, not even worthy of the one star I have given it. Yes, it may be an extravaganza, but what does this word really mean? Is it meant to portray this garish concoction of fin-du-ciecle cabaret pierced with groteseque 21st century sexuality and voiced with the modern songs of Elton John etc. ? The skewed camera angles peeking up the voluminous skirts revealing fish-netted thunder-thighs (Ugh) gave me the frantic, …
review by . March 26, 2002
How interesting that a movie such as Moulin Rouge could have such a deeply divided audience - you'll rarely hear anyone say they "liked it," only that they loved it or hated it.Assuming you're even looking at this product and/or its reviews insinuates that you're on the "loved it" camp, so I will skip the obligatory thematic review and skip right to the plusses of the format.The DVD version of the film lives up to expectations, as this was quite a technically stunning film. Lots of work went into …
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Susi Dawson ()
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About this movie



Genre: Music, Musical
Release Date: June 1, 2001
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 2hrs 6min
Studio: 20th Century Fox
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