Moulin Rouge

20th Century Fox and Bazmark Films Released 2001


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Movie Summary

Baz Luhrmann

Moulin Rouge is the 2001 highly stylized musical feature starring Ewan McGregor and Nicole Kidman, and is now available on Amazon. Theater legend and director Baz Luhrmann (Romeo + Juliet) focuses his extravagant vision on the bohemian streets of Paris at the turn of the century, where young British writer Christian (McGregor) is obsessed with freedom, beauty, truth, and above all love. He joins a bohemian theater band of crazy characters that lead him to the Parisian nightlife hotspot The Moulin Rouge. There Christian first sets his eyes on the beautiful Satine (Kidman), the star of the Moulin Rouge and escort for the most powerful bidder. Christian instantly falls in love with Satine, however the most powerful bidder in the room is non other than the Duke (Richard Roxburgh), who is determined to make Satine his - and his alone. Through a case of mistaken identity, Satine meets Christian (thinking he's the Duke) and offers herself to him. But when she learns the truth, something happens that she did not plan – she falls in love with him. They are interrupted by the eager and jealous Duke, but explain that Christian is writing a play for the Moulin Rouge and Satine is to be the star. As art imitates life on stage, the two forge a secret love that threatens to bring down their beloved Moulin Rouge, and may cost them both their lives.....but the show must go on.



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Metacritic Score

  • about the film

    It had great art direction and costume design.
  • Moulin Rouge: Wildly UNoriginal!


    Within the realm of cinema, there are three types of good films: "Decent!" "Acclaimed!" and "Guilty Pleasure!" Guilty pleasures are normally films that are so hammy, so over-the-top ridiculous, that you can't help but be drawn to them...

    And this film is very par for the course.

    "Moulin Rouge!" is a 2001 jukebox musical film directed by Baz Luhrmann (known for his Romeo + Juliet). The film follows an aspiring writer Christian who believes in truth, freedom, beauty, and above all things, love. He comes across a band of crazy Bohemian thespians led by Toulouse-Lautrec (who is actually a real person, but he wasn't cheery like the movie version) and they take him to the Moulin Rouge, a mesmerizing cabaret where fantasy overcomes reality. They need Christian to present their play, "Spectacular, Spectacular", to Harold Zidler and his star courtesan Satine.

    Zidler and his dancers are able to transform the bordello into a theater with a wealthy Duke's funding. The Duke agrees to fund the show as long as Satine is bound to him for an exclusive night of passion. However, trouble occurs when Satine and Christian fall in love, making it difficult to sleep with the Duke. Tensions rise and jealousy may lead to cold-blooded murder...or worse...

    This film didn't particularly frustrate me...but what did was the reception it got. People praised the film for being wildly original and revolutionary for its musical genre. In reality, it's a stylized mess that celebrates how it reminisces about familiar themes from "Titanic" and "Rocky Horror Picture Show".

    I can't say that the film is original if it recycles songs from 20th Century songwriters. I mean, that's probably the style Baz was going for, yet it doesn't work as effectively as it should. It feels more like it's trying to recite trivia rather than pull us into the film.

    But even if the songs were original, it's hard to get into the atmosphere. The editing goes by so fast, it's hard to understand what's going on. Anything could be edited into the shots and no one would notice. Baz, deviating from the standard directional style is fine, but be sure to remember you have an audience who want to feel the surrounding as well as see it.

    Combine those faults together, and you've got a well-known trope: Style Over Substance. Baz and the crew are spending their time celebrating how enthralling and artistic their design is when they should be putting a stronger effort in characters and plot. That's where the movie really shines, and without it, everything falls flat.

    "Titanic" had the similar problem: the filmmakers surrounded the cast with a gigantic set while failing to indulge in characterization as well as historical congruence. However, they still had something to offer. Instead, "Moulin Rouge!" tries to copy that. We have an intricately-designed set, but the characters do not have enough depth to blend into that environment.

    In fact, let's go over the character checklist for this film:

    The greedy villain who always gets what he wants? Check.

    The innocent artist/writer who is a fledgling lover? Check.

    The damsel-in-distress who's a hooker with a heart? Check.

    Okay, so we've got the main three characters in check, but do we have...

    A villain who's intense and engaging aside from a childish Bond villain? Nope.

    A writer with psychological insight aside from being a good-natured romantic? Nope.

    A desirable female not just for her looks, but for her logic? Don't even think about it.

    The Duke is one of the weakest villains I've seen. I didn't see him as a threat; actually, I thought he was a creep. His random outbursts are very laughable, and if it was shown that he had a psychological issue, that would've been very fascinating. But hey, this is a musical. Why suspect anything of the sort? Another annoying thing about him is his desire for Satine. They lacked enough interaction to build up to him trying to end her relationship with Christian (even the attempted rape felt very silly).

    Christian and Satine's relationship is bland and bipolar. When they first meet, it's Disney Couple At First Sight. They share only a few scenes together, but they're destined to be together. However, the Duke's wrath isn't the only thing that gets in the way.

    It turns out Satine is suffering from consumption (tuberculosis) and doesn't have long to live. Zidler doesn't tell her in order to continue the show. When she tries to run away, Zidler tells her she's dying and that Christian will be killed if she doesn't sleep with the Duke. Well, she'll have to tell Christian the truth, right? Wrong. Instead, she decides to break up with him under the pretense that she's fallen out of love with him. Yes, because spending your dying days with someone who tried to harm you is better than being with someone who truly cares about you.

    Fortunately for Satine, Christian completely falls for it and becomes immensely depressed. He then sneaks in backstage and ends up on stage with her. He humiliates her in front of the audience and leaves until Toulouse (one of the many background characters with sudden importance) calls out, "The greatest thing you'll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return!" So, the man that's in love with Satine can't figure that out, but a dwarf with face-paint and bedazzled clothes can? How romantic.

    Now, like "Rocky Horror Picture Show", the appeal of this movie is how unrealistic the characters are and how laughable the situation is. However, "Rocky Horror" was consistent. They stuck with poking fun at sci-fi/horror fiction cliches without having to change the format halfway through. "Moulin Rouge!" feels like two movies in one viewing. 50% of it is a goofy fairytale for adults that lacks logic and depth; the other 50% is the a poorly-executed melodrama that includes Satine dying, Christian depressed, and the Duke planning cold-blooded murder. The combination isn't very fluent.

    Also, this movie feels like it's explaining everything by repeating the word LOVE over and over. If you had to play a drinking game and you took a shot every time they said it, you'd be dead halfway through. Besides, for as much as they talk about it, they don't analyze it very well. All we know about love is that it's really awesome and whoever is unable to feel it should be damned into the pit of Tartarus.

    Okay, for as much as I've ashamed all the fans of this movie, why am I giving it a 6.5? Because, putting all the flaws aside, I still really enjoy this movie.

    The performances are enjoyably over-the-top as well as the singing. Even though I griped about the songs being unoriginal, they manage to sing them okay (especially Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor). They're not professional, but it's not meant to be. Plus, if you let your down your intellectual defense, you don't have to think too hard. It's a fairytale meant for adults. It may not be executed by adults, but that makes it easier to watch.

    Bottom line, this film is a guilty pleasure of mine. If you get the chance, check it out and see for yourself if you love it or hate it.moreless

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More Info About This Movie


Arts, Drama, Music


Love & Romance, young love, Musicals, unrequited love, musical numbers