Moulin Rouge 9/10
Moulin Rouge (PG-13) 2001
Reviewer’s Tilt (5)
Special DVD Features worth a look-Extended scenes
This is not your grandfather’s musical. Baz Luhrmann, the inventive director behind such movies as “Strictly Ballroom” and “William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet” brings his creative juices to bear on the notorious Parisian dance hall. Set a century ago, the plot revolves around Christian (Ewan McGregor), a would be writer with towering aspirations and few prospects. Along the way, he teams up with Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (John Leguizamo) and a band of bohemians. The plan to buffalo Christian’s way into a paying gig at the Moulin hits a snag when Christian spies the impossibly fetching, and hopelessly unattainable courtesan Satine (Nicole Kidman) performing at the theater.
Dying to resuscitate his dying venue, the theater’s cunning impresario Sidler (Jim Broadbent) marshals Christian, Lautrec, Satine, and the roving band of bohemians to impress the theater’s last hope of funding, the Duke (Richard Roxburgh). The Duke, of course, is interested in nothing other than Satine’s baser talents. With more than a passing nod to Jacques Offenbach's Orpheus in the Underworld, the characters all maintain a pretense, to forward their own aspirations. Do not look for any unusual twists--the story is pedestrian. What is new, and what makes the movie so endearing, is its presentation. Luhrmann repackages 70’s and 80’s standards in millennial wrapping and transplants some of the more famous hooks directly into the screenplay toward rewarding ends. Luhrmann also enlists the talents of director of photography, Donald McAlpine and editor Jill Bilcock. These two are true symbions, anticipating each other’s next move like professional dancers, creating some rather stunning celluloid.
Luhrmann’s wife, Catherine Martin shines through her magical production and costume design. Kidman and McGregor survive the duets with their honor intact, but just barely. They are good enough to get the job done, but not so good as to distract from the experiences. Criticized for its frenetic pacing and MTVesque editing, Moulin Rouge creates a conscience, rather than a parable. It would be a simple task to grab at its flaws as if they were loose threads and pull the movie apart at the seams. It is a little more difficult, but infinitely more rewarding, however to fall into the arms of this devilish endeavor and let it carry you along its sound and vision of love and ribaldry. Luhrmann speaks to his audience through Satine “I make men believe what they want to believe" Moulin Rouge is filled with all the right glitz, glamour, love and tragedy . . . but you still have to believe.
Format: Color, Widescreen Anamorphic, Closed captioned.
Sound: (DTS 5.1 Surround), (Dolby Digital 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround)
Extras: Production commentary by Baz Luhrmann, Catherine Martin, and Don McAlpine, Writing commentary by Baz Luhrmann and Craig Pearce, 8 behind-the-scenes branches, HBO's making-of featurette "Behind the Red Curtain", 5 star featurettes, earlier drafts of screenplay, 6 extended scenes, 4 re-cut dance sequences, interview with John "Cha Cha" O'Connell and Caroline O'Conner, dance pre-shoots, 3 multi-angle dance sequences, 2 music videos, design and marketing gallery, Easter Eggs, trailers, live MTV performance of "Lady Marmalade”.