MOULIN ROUGE is the most audacious effort yet from director Baz Luhrmann,
who last, in ROMEO + JULIET, imagined two Shakespearean lovers in a modern
Verona Beach setting. This time, Luhrmann turns his considerable talent to
bringing back the movie musical, an art form whose obituary had supposedly
long since been written.
Starring Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor, as Satine and Christian, two
star-crossed lovers, this fairytale of a movie is a cornucopia of singing
and dancing. In fact there are probably enough songs in it for three
musicals. McGregor's big role of late was as Obi-Wan Kenobi in THE PHANTOM
MENACE and Kidman's was in EYES WIDE SHUT. She is, however, perhaps best
known these days for her well publicized contract dispute with a guy who has
The movie's phenomenal sets look like a Tim Burton production of WILLIE
WONKA AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY. Among many imaginative and magical scenes,
one has Satine and Christian standing on a cloud between the starry, deep
blue sky and the twinkling apartment lights of Paris in 1899 -- "the summer
The film opens with such a long cacophony and montage of blurring images
that it seems that the picture might be one of those near storyless movies
like PINK FLOYD THE WALL. This all changes when McGregor and Kidman begin
to sing, "The Hills Are Alive With The Sound Of Music" in his case and
"Diamonds Are A Girl's Best Friend" in hers. To answer your first question:
Yes, they sing all of their own songs. And to answer your second: Yes, they
are quite good, especially McGregor. Best of all are their love duets, and
their chemistry together is both credible and touching.
The story, which is filled with humor as well as love, concerns a
fantastical nightclub called the Moulin Rouge, which is run by an impresario
named Zidler (Jim Broadbent from TOPSY-TURVY). He transforms his nightclub
into a theater in order to put on a play called "Spectacular Spectacular,"
written by Christian. The leading role will be sung by Satine, a courtesan.
In order to get the funding Zidler gives the deed to the Moulin Rouge, and
effectively to Satine as well, to the evil Duke of Monroth (Richard
Roxburgh). This deal might have worked out, had Christian and Satine not
fallen in love. A hopeless romantic, Christian's fundamental believe is,
"The greatest thing you'll ever learn is just to love and to be loved in
return." The tragedy of the story comes from Satine's health -- she's dying
of consumption -- and Christian's self-acknowledged "ridiculous obsession
Operatic in scope, the film assaults our senses with the sumptuous music,
costumes, sets and story. With its rapid pacing, jump cuts, speed ups and
slow downs, the film will leave you emotionally drained and exhilarated by
the end, which does more with the "show must go on" than you could ever
imagine. It is also a rare film that is such a crowd-pleaser that you're
likely to hear, as we did, spontaneous applause during the movie.
MOULIN ROUGE runs 2:10. It is rated PG-13 for sexual content and would be
acceptable for kids around 12 and up.
My son Jeffrey, age 12, gave the film ***. He had trouble with the
intensity of the dying part but liked the music and the dancing.
Copyright © 2001 Steve Rhodes