Baz Luhrmann (2001, 20th Century Fox)
Starring Nicole Kidman, Ewan McGregor, Jim Broadbent, John
Leguizamo, and Richard Roxburgh
A poet falls in love with a beautiful courtesan, but must keep
their love secret from a jealous duke.
3rd, 2013 in the Theatre for the 6th time
Never having seen this
movie in the theatre, I jumped at the chance to see it when it came back
for the Summer of Musicals series. I sat through the entire movie
thinking that it was so much better than seeing it on the small screen!
The choreography was insane, and dizzying. The colors were still vibrant
after all these years. The visuals were quite simply spectacular.
The songs were already extraordinarily done, but in full surround
sound and high volume, they were absolutely wonderful. A shiver ran down
my spine during the Elephant Love Medley. A very close second is the
Roxanne Tango, with Ewan McGregor's chanting overlaid. Pure brilliance
and very effectively done.
I only wonder what the other people in the theatre thought. Viewers
really need to know what they are coming in for before seeing it, and if
they were not into silly comedy mixed with this incredible romance, I
can understand why they would walk out. But not me. I thought the
silliness only added to everything else.
12th, 2010 on DVD for the 5th time
I think it's amazing
how this movie changes tones, and it is very subtle, until the audience
realizes that it has happened. The beginning is very over-the-top,
introducing the Moulin Rouge as a character. My favorite parts are still
the romance during My Song and the Elephant Love Medley. Then it gets
more intense, until at the end the intensity is overwhelming. The
characters are written perfectly, and the actors pull this off, actually
breaking from the pressure. Not to mention that the two main characters
have great chemistry and voices!
May 6th, 2006 on DVD
for the 4th time
Still loving this
January 11th, 2003 on
DVD, for the 3rd time
It can be a very dangerous thing to
introduce a friend or family member to one of your favorite movies,
especially when it is as strange as this one. You are constantly looking
over to gage their reaction to things that you found funny or
intriguing. There are awkward moments when the really strange parts come
on the screen, not knowing if they will simply want to turn the movie
off, or if they have disgust on their faces.
This movie is one that you shouldn't praise too much before showing it to
people who haven't seen it before, because they will go in with an
attitude that is way too positive, expecting too much. Cautionary praise
is important, as is a warning that the movie is very strange, but if
open to it, can be very rewarding.
There are easily many scenes that qualify as awkward, such as when
Ewan McGregor starts singing "the hills are alive with the sound of
music...", and then later when Nicole Kidman starts screaming her fake
orgasm (inferior, of course, to the one in When Harry Met Sally) to
Ewan's confused face. Try watching that one with your parents.
Still, no matter what our friend thought of it (she was lukewarm), I
still loved it. The cinematics, the charisma, the chemistry between the
two lead actors, and above all, the singing, had me glued to the screen.
April 28th, 2002 on DVD
for the second time
Unfortunately, I was forced by circumstances to watch this movie piecemeal.
Fortunately, it didn't suffer much because of that. I still think this
film is brilliant, with terrific cinematography, choreography, directing, and of
I bought the soundtrack (and the sequel to the soundtrack) soon
after watching the movie for the first time. And I think I've been
listening to it pretty much non-stop. Of course, I have my favorite songs,
like Your Song and the Elephant Love Medley, as well as the beautiful Come What
May, or the passionate Roxanne. But the truth is that there is no bad song
here, even counting the hilarious impromptu "pitch session" for the duke after
he discovers Satine and Christian together, or Like a Virgin, which is also
I had not planned on watching this movie again so soon, but I had the
opportunity to buy the DVD for my collection, and so I did. And I always
check the new merchandise for flaws by watching them through. Upon a
second viewing, this movie lost nothing. I was actually worried that the
novelty of the movie would have worn off, because I was completely surprised at
the story and the method of telling it the first time. Thankfully, it
didn't. I was just as amazed by it all, and noticed more details, this
Now that I have the DVD at my fingertips, there is nothing to stop me from
playing my favorite parts (the ones that go along with my favorite songs, above)
again and again. This is one I'll treasure for a long time to come!
March 24th, 2002 on DVD
Stunning, absolutely stunning. I couldn't get enough of this film. The
dancing, acting, directing style, and especially the singing were absolutely
amazing. That said, the movie is definitely not for everyone.
I went in forewarned. I knew the movie was strange, so perhaps had a lower
expectation. But I remember seeing the previews in the theatre and thinking this
was interesting. Especially with Ewan McGregor in a lead role. How interesting,
I had no idea. I didn't even know this was a musical! But it certainly is not
what one would expect. I don't even know how to characterize the movie.
But the fact that I've already watched several scenes two or three times must
The story is one about love. As I have mentioned before, I am a sucker for a
good love story. There are the usual characters -the man who has never really
known love, who falls for a beautiful woman, a prostitute, a courtesan at a
local nightclub for the rich and anonymous. By a mistaken chance, he ends up in
her bedroom, when she is expecting somebody else, a rich Duke who will make her
into an actress. But before the moment passes, she has also fallen in love.
Enter the Duke, who is an immensely jealous man. He agrees to pay for
renovations to the club so that it can become a hall for a live theatrical
performance. So the lovers hide their love, and the owner of the club keeps
making excuses for her behavior. When the Duke does figure it out, there
is a short conflict, and one of the two is taken out of the game. Which one? The
poor poet or the rich Duke? Although this is a tragedy, it is a story about
love. Of course she chooses the poor love of her life!
I was not prepared for how funny this movie is. Aside from the song elements,
which are the funniest parts by far, every character does their best work in
keeping the situation as ludicrous as possible. The Duke is very tight and
stern, talking with a high pitched, whiny voice that makes him look very
stuck-up, which he undoubtedly is. His blindness to the situation between Satine
and Christian is hilarious, as anybody with one eye could tell what is going on.
It takes another dancer to open his eyes, saying about the play they are
performing, "the ending is silly -why wouldn't the courtesan choose the rich
Maharajah over the poor writer -oops, I mean sitar player?" She sits down so
proud of herself that I wanted to strangle her! I can't figure out what Satine
and Christian did to her to deserve that, but it was wonderfully nasty!
The Duke even gets scary at one point, though, showing the range of acting. He
nearly rapes Satine after finding out about her lover, and when she can't go
through with her plan to save the play by sleeping with him. Luckily, she is
saved by an underused black stage dancer (he was terrific in the scenes he
Harold Zidler, the owner of the Moulin Rouge, was absolutely hilarious as well.
The actor played the part of the nervous owner very well. He became exciting
when the Duke wanted to make an actress out of Satine, when the Duke wanted the
deeds to the theatre as collateral. But his best quality was his improvisation
skills. I am sure he had no intention of ever hiring Toulouse-Lautrec to do a
play in his club. But when he finds Christian and a half-naked Satine in her
bedroom, and the Duke bursts in, Toulouse-Lautrec and his gang also enter and
pitch their idea for Spectaculaire-Spectaculaire! Zidler has no choice but to go
with it, or else endure the Duke's wrath. On the spot, they develop the entire
outline of the play, with contributions from everybody, even the Duke!
Toulouse-Lautrec's constant claim that the play should be set in Switzerland was
The rest of his troupe was set decoration, but interesting as well. The
Argentinean was the most serious one, though his disease (suddenly falling
asleep while doing even the most animated work) made him a funny character in
this situation, due to everybody else's exasperation. Toulouse-Lautrec, with his
slur of words was also fun to watch.
But the best characters were the leads. Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor were
outstanding! The chemistry between these two on screen was nothing short of
incredible. The way their eyes met, and the way she glances at him when she
first hears his real voice... sultry. I never knew they had voices like this!
Who knew they could sing! Sure, she was good, but without him, I'm sure she
would have been simply okay. Adding his voice to the mix made me sit up and take
notice. When he starts his rendition of Your Song by Elton John, the rest of the
entire set goes still, except for the lights suddenly turning on all over Paris.
I was as stunned as Satine was. Incidentally, this was my first realization that
this was no ordinary movie. Taking pop songs and reworking them into this turn
of the nineteenth century style is not something I thought would have worked.
But it was stunning, absolutely stunning!
The two main actors did an incredible job of showing the emotions that their
characters were going through. I never noticed Nicole Kidman's blue-blue eyes
before, but her seductive smile, her gorgeous hair (not to mention all the
well-fitting and low-cut dresses) did everything to draw me in. She was at her
most beautiful. Ewan McGregor, for his part, is as handsome as can be (I get
this from a reliable source -Joanne also thinks Sean Patrick Flannery -Young
Indy- and Goran Visnjic -Dr.Kovac in ER- are similarly handsome, and Ewan
resembles both). His smile showed a giddy sort of school-boy happiness and glee,
his eyes lit up just as much as Kidman's did, and that voice... wow!
This version of Your Song, sung entirely by Ewan McGregor in an incredible
voice, was enchanting, especially when he first starts up. Their dance was no
less amazing, as they hopped across the sky, swinging from the Eiffel Tower.
After the Duke leaves, they engage in a love song medley, which is also
outstanding. It is incredible to hear those songs sung as an argument between
two people, or even as a duet. The fun of this part at first was simply figuring
out which songs they were going through. But on a second watching, I just
enjoyed it immensely for the singing and dancing. The newly mixed themes for
these songs, with the powerful bass and passionate undercurrents, were
outstanding. But I still can't get over Ewan McGregor's voice!
There are two major songs that are not sung by Satine or Christian. One,
Roxanne, was sultry and intense, extremely passionate, and fit so well with the
scenes that were taking place that it looked almost like it was written for this
movie. Christian sings counterpoint to the song, so that the entire movie was
filled with passion. It was amazing! The other song was the most hilarious of
them all! Like a Virgin sung between two men, with Zidler speaking about Satine,
explaining how she feels towards him. The dance routines and the singing, the
expressions on their faces, were hilarious.
In the end, in order to save him, Satine has to make Christian think that she
has chosen money over love. The Duke will kill him if Christian sees her again,
and it is revealed to her (though we knew very much earlier) that she is also
dying of consumption. Christian comes back, though, and is nearly killed by the
Duke's thug. But Satine cannot resist him, and she starts to sing their secret
song, the one that they created together to show that they were still in love,
even though she had to do things that they would not agree with. This is a
haunting song, the only really original track on the soundtrack. It's quite
beautiful. The Duke and his thug are knocked out, but Satine dies in Christian's
arms as the curtains close.
It is a sad story, but it is a story of love. For the first time, Christian knew
love, and was loved back in return.
The first half of the movie was pure energy, from the Lady Marmalade theme to
the raucous dancing in the club, through Your Song and the story pitch. The
second half slowed the energy down somewhat, but it was always very interesting,
and sometimes erotic. It was never boring.
I have nothing bad to say about this film at all. I was taken by surprise at the
use of pop songs here, but I found it hilarious. I was totally blown away by the
performances. Perhaps the cutting in the club scene was a little too fast, and I
was just as awkward during Satine's orgasm scene as Christian was, but I think
it gave a sense of the intensity and absurdity to both. I watched the love song
medley, Your Song, and Like Virgin four times!
As for the DVD, I think I'd need another month to see everything. There is a
good making-of video, very interesting. There are interesting interviews with
the actors, director, and several crew members. I didn't watch all of it, but
they seemed well made. The series of rehearsals, multiple angle dance scenes,
music videos and performances, alternate scene cuts, and more, were things that
I browsed through. I perused several of these, but I think I barely touched the
surface. I listened to a (very) little of the audio commentary, and checked out
some of the behind the scenes "green fairy" tidbits in a couple of my favorite
scenes. But I know that I barely saw any of the extra features. I was not as
interested in the dance scenes as I thought I would be, but for somebody who is
interested in that, I think it's amazing. The special effects shots were
wonderfully done. I think, even if somebody didn't really enjoy the movie much,
the special features on this DVD are enough to interest anybody who is
interested in film. There is something for everybody.
But I loved the film, so the extras simply extended my enjoyment. I think this
is a movie that people will either LOVE or HATE. I don't know if
there is an in-between. Certainly, from people that I've talked with, there is
no middle ground. For me, this was immense and powerful, and this movie is one
that I will return to.