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Moulin Rouge! (2001)

Why they didn't just call it Red Windmill I'LL NEVER KNOW
Why they didn't just call it Red Windmill I'LL NEVER KNOW

Genre: Musical Romance Comedy Drama (USA, Australia)

Starring: Ewan McGregor (The Pillow BookTrainspotting)Nicole Kidman (Dogville Cold Mountain)

Directed By: Baz Luhrmann (Romeo + JulietStrictly Ballroom)

Overview: During the early days of the rise of the Nazi party Bohemian Art Movement in 1932 Berlin 1899 Paris, an English teacher poet rooms next to falls in love with a zanny sexy cabaret performer with dreams of the good life. Damn.

Squish, that's me your host, hates musicals, even non-musicals with just a couple of songs in them. Ok not HATE - I mean capital Eff 'Film' typically trumps Genre but as Genres go, Musical is right down there with Romantic Comedy. Squish, that's me your host, absolutely loves a historically accurate film. In fact when period films aren't historically accurate, he doesn't see them, and rails against them. Moulin Rouge! is a musical that is very very musical. Furthermore, set in 1899, is it anything but, if I'm right about Elton John's age. Somehow this has caused some sort of double negative in the brain of your host, because he absolutely loved it.
 
The story isn't very original, in fact it's campily unoriginal. We begin with Christian, a man who has moved from England to Paris to indulge in the Bohemian tradition, and write about love. Not having been in love himself, he seeks it out, finding it in Satine, the most popular courtesan in the Moulin Rouge. He serenades her, they immediately fall in love and then it gets complicated. The Duke, a rich patron of the arts - but more a patron of Satine - agrees to transform the Moulin Rouge cabaret into a theater. Satine dreams of becoming an actress and of being adorned in diamonds. The Duke can make it all happen for her, but she has already given her heart to another. Predictable as the rest of the plot may be, the trip to the end credits is epic in cinematography, set and costume design and choreography, and there's even a few unexpected twists that take it out of the purely formulaic.
 
Highlights include John Leguizamo as short-statured Parisian artist, Moulin Rouge cabaret patron and comic relief Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, the ever-gorgeous Nicole Kidman as sexy courtesan made even more beautiful by elaborate costumes, like this one below. There's a freakish little cameo by Kylie Minogue too. 
 

The songs in Moulin Rouge! themselves were not original music, using instead previously published music, including "The Sound of Music", "Lady Marmalade", "Like a Virgin", "Smells Like Teen Spirit", "Roxanne", and Elton John's "Your Song". Surprisingly, bastardizing these songs and sticking them in a comedy musical to be sung by Ewan McGregor and Nicole Kidman works, and coming from me, that's saying a lot.

 Yeah... she's alright I guess.
Yeah... she's alright I guess.

Performance: 8 Cinematography: 10 Script: 8 Plot: 8 Mood: 9

Overall Rating: 86% (You're As Surprised As I Was)
Aftertaste:
Stuff that Moulin Rouge! taught me:

A jukebox musical is a musical that used previously published music, not original stuff. Moulin Rouge! uses the song "The Hills Are Alive", from The Sound of Music, whereas The Sound of Music was original. Get it? Mama Mia! is ABBA's stuff. Across the Universe uses all Beatles' songs. Now you get it.
 
French painter Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec was quite the patron of the original Moulin Rouge. Also he was inbred and was only 5'1" because his thighs didn't heal properly when they both broke in his adolescence. He became a raging Girl Drink Drunk, prefering cocktails over wine and was such a lush that he had a cane that could hold liquor. Poor lush died at 36.

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Boy, do we disagree on this one! I typically dislike musicals about as much as you do and tend to be surprised when I like one. This one...me no likee so much. It felt like an assault on my head, and I was pretty happy when it was done.

 Great link on the KitH skit--one of my favorites. 


I Think this movie is cool, with great songs.

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