Why I Love the Moulin Rouge | Review of the 2001 Movie Version
The 2001 Moulin Rouge movie is one of my all-time favorites. When I went to see it at the cinema (age 13), the movie had just been released and the screening was packed. It is the only time I have been to a cinema and witnessed any audience participation; from one woman gasping "No!" loudly (and then everyone laughing), to the mass-crying at the end as everyone filed out staring at the carpet and blinking rapidly.
Now, I know that the movie isn't to everyone's taste, perhaps because of the surreal and sometimes frantic nature of some scenes, however in my view the best movies are always the ones that divide opinion - because then at least a strong opinion is evoked, rather than indifference!
The movie certainly isn't the usual type of musical - especially with the subject matter being the 'women of the night' working at the famous Parisian club - but I strongly recommend you watch it if you haven't already; it really is a feast for the eyes, and full of dark drama and passion. It's a creative mix of theater, circus and film, and if that's not enough to convince you, this movie was actually the first musical to be nominated for an Oscar for 'Best Picture' since the Disney movie 'Beauty and the Beast' in 1991. Impressive!
I'll try not to spoil the storyline too much, but with a location like the Moulin Rouge club in Paris, you know there will be excitement, sequins and great energy, as well as a dark and tragic side.
An innocent young writer named Christian arrives at the club and is dazzled by the entertainment provided by the can-can dancers, and he is especially enthralled with a performance by the star of the show; Satine. A mix-up leads to a meeting between Christian and Satine in private quarters of the club, where Christian is adorably intimidated and nervous about the whole situation, whilst Satine believes that Christian is actually a wealthy man referred to as 'The Duke'.
Almost immediately Christian falls head-over-heels in love and sets about wooing Satine with love songs, and unused to genuine feelings and kindness shown to her, she ends up falling in love with Christian too, which is forbidden in the club. This means that they must sneak around and only meet up in secret (which is a situation that always ends well...)
Unfortunately forces are working against them, in the form of illness as well as The Duke. Christian writes a play for the club which needs investment in order to proceed, and The Duke agrees to foot the bill. However, The Duke also desires for Satine to be his, and only his, and of course this leads to problems for Christian and Satine. I won't give away the ending but it really is a tear-jerker!
There is an excellent cast involved in this movie, including Nicole Kidman as Satine, Ewan McGregor as Christian (both showing off impressive voices), and Jim Broadbent as Satine's boss, Harold Zidler. There's even a cameo from Kylie Minogue!
(I have to admit at this point that this movie did start off a very long-lasting crush on Ewan McGregor, and I may have had a photo of him on my wall for many years. Just saying :))
There are also many brilliant supporting cast members, including The Duke (played by Richard Roxburgh) who is particularly oily and sleazy, and really makes you root even more for Christian.
Visuals & Graphics
If I didn't know that this movie was directed by Baz Luhrmann, I would certainly have guessed; from the vivid, saturated colors, to the frenzied action sequences, surreal scenes, humor, and camera shots that zoom quickly out from a room into the sky to show the whole of Paris. Baz definitely has a trademark style. In fact, one snippet where a gun flies through the air and ends up bouncing off the Eiffel Tower gave me serious Luhrmann vibes!
It's unconventional, it's unique and it's sometimes quite mad, and that's one of the many reasons why I love it. If you are into fashion you will also love looking at the costumes on show - and the movie actually won an Oscar for 'Best Costume Design'.
It really is the visuals that set this film apart from the rest.
I am a huge fan of musicals anyway, and a soundtrack can make or break a movie for me. The soundtrack for this movie is currently on my computer and I listen to it frequently, even 12 years later, which shows just how much I love it. It has some ballads, some extremely fast numbers and some particularly rousing love songs.
To this day, the version of 'Your Song' is one of my favorite songs of all time, and I also know every single lyric of the 'Elephant Love Medley' (and I'm not exaggerating - I even know the spoken lines off by heart!) The 'Roxanne' mashup is also one of my favorite-ever pieces of music, not least because it is played over the most dramatic scene in the movie.
"The greatest thing you'll ever learn is just to love, and be loved in return."
Here is the official movie trailer, plus a particularly mad scene at the beginning of the movie, and the 'One Day I'll Fly Away' song.