Moulin Rough (2001) (Fig 1), directed by Baz Luhrmann is renowned for being perhaps one of the best musical films to hit the film industry in years. It utilizes music from today’s and previous culture in order to provoke something from the viewer be it hate or love. It also does this by becoming a whirlpool of intense music, passionate performances and surreal imagery, all the while attempting to pull you into a strange, Burton-esque world of “Truth, Beauty and most of all… love”. This movie is all about the epic performances, the brightly coloured, extravagant visuals and the musical numbers that we’re all familiar with, but most of all, this movie is a love story.
The film is based upon ‘La Boheme’, an opera based upon the very same concept of love. Moulin Rouge’s story shows us the tale of a young writer from England who has moved to Paris to live among the people of the city during the new bohemian century. He stays next to the center of Bohemia for inspiration, which just so happens to be Moulin Rouge, a nightclub.
He meets up with a painter called Toulouse LeTrec when he arrives who then convinces him to write songs and a script for a performance, which, along with his ‘gang’ from Moulin Rouge, Toulouse is attempting to green-light. However, Toulouse tells Christian that he has to gain the approval from the center star for Moulin Rouge, Satine, before his role can be validated. The following few scenes are a classic issue of wrong-identity in which she mistakes him for the Duke, the main villain of Moulin Rouge, whom she has to seduce in order to protect the nightclub from going under. Eventually, both she and the writer fall in love (Fig 2). What follows during the rest of the film are frantic attempts to cover up their love from the Duke so that he continues to support the club.
Moulin Rouge’s visuals are stunning and it trends towards a very surreal, stylistic approach.
“Providing a backdrop for the music are highly imaginative sets - intense in detail and splendour, thanks to production designer Catherine Martin - with exotic trappings, deep shadows and the richest of possible colour schemes (with an emphasis on the titular rouge).” (<No Author>, <No Date>)
The art style that this film has going for it is almost Burton-like from its dreamy qualities and most definitely stands out from most other movies of the same genre (Fig 3).
However, like many other musicals, this film is on the same level in terms of extravagant, modern style, but the stigma associated with most musical movies is also part of its downfall in some people’s eyes, especially when you add music from today’s industry and the songs of previous eras that are well known and timeless. Phillip French from The Observer states his opinion on the matter.
"The film strikes me though as having different origins. It's been called 'postmodernist' in the way it compacts numerous contrasting styles and disparate strands, in the manner of a garbage machine crushing everything it receives into a neat package.” (French, 2001)
French’s opinion is one of many that has been affected by the way that Moulin Rouge breaks tradition. The written rule saying that musical movies must adhere to old standards is thankfully non-existent. Moulin Rouge takes these modern songs and transforms them into spectacular spectacles laced with plenty of Opera, ballads and orchestrated masterpieces. While doing this, it also merges the line between which era in time it is supposed to represent with these different music pieces. The cinematography in this movie also attempts to rip away from old traditions from previous musicals, filling itself with CGI shots and rapid zooms.
In conclusion, however, this isn’t a perfect movie but it does its best during the dramatic and climactic scenes. There is plenty of good humor for one to enjoy, but the scenes where they are included drag on for just a little too long. This film is one film that many either like to love or like to hate. For example, those who swoon at the phrase “The greatest thing you'll ever learn, is just to love and be loved in return!” or those roll their eyes and groan, but this movie is definitely to be seen as a feast for the eyes and for the sheer scale of the spectacle.
(No Author) http://www.film4.com/reviews/2001/moulin-rouge (No Date) (Accessed 27/10/12)
(French, Phillip) http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/2001/sep/09/philipfrench1 (No Date) (Accessed 27/10/12)
(Fig 1)(No Date)(No Author) http://www.filmtracks.com/titles/moulin_rouge.html (Accessed 27/10/12)
(Fig 2)(No Date)(Behnke, Mark) http://www.cafleurebon.com/histoires-de-parfums-1889-moulin-rouge-a-perfume-that-can-can/ (Accessed 27/10/12)
(Fig 3)(No Date)(No Author) http://www.thefancarpet.com/ActorGalleryPicture.aspx? mga_id=17773&a_id=283 (Accessed 27/10/12)