Moulin Rouge (2001)
WHY MOULIN ROUGE?
Love is a many splendored thing, love lifts us up where we belong, all you need is love. And for me, as I sat down full of sugar and caffeine, Baz, Ewan and Nicole sang to me exactly what my heart was singing itself.
It was during the honeymoon period of new love, and if ever there is a time to watch a film in which the main character believes in “above all things, Love”, then this would be it.
Beginning with the tiny conductor of the 20th Century Fox fanfare, right through to Spectacular Spectacular, there isn’t a single frame for the first 42minutes that is out of place nor a single moment given to breathe. It is a roller coaster of velvet, feathers, electricity and every love song you’ve ever known all mashed up into one, intense ride.
Having managed the mean feat of avoiding the trailer, or any of the pre-press back in my not so movie-filled early twenties, I was utterly unaware of the musical tricks Baz was about to unleash on my ears, and only as Christian is interrupted by the unconscious Argentinian falling through his roof and the dwarf dressed as a nun who insisted on speaking, surely not, the lyrics to The Sound of Music, did the pop-influences dawn and warm.
Whilst some modern day musicals might drip feed you crowd pleasers, Moulin Rouge drowns you in them, and none so powerful as El Tango De Roxanne, soaked in drama and edited within an inch of its choreographed life.
Of course, this might just lead some to label it as no more than a glorified music video, and well, be that as it may, I see it as one of its strengths. Not even Moneybags Jackson was able to sustain a two hour music video – see Moonwalker for proof.
The story might be somewhat simplistic, but its knowing and smart in the telling, as is the story-within-a-story on which their grand Spectacular Spectacular is based.
The actors deliver a wonderfully earnest and emotional performance in and amongst some truly hilarious slap-stick and farce. It’s Ewan at his most adorable, and, the crazy thing is, I’m not even a Nicole Kidman fan; quite the opposite, her presence in a film will more often than not leave it a wrinkled nose away from going unwatched.
As a filmmaker, watching Moulin Rouge as an evolution of Baz Luhrmann from Strictly Ballroom, through Romeo + Juliet to arrive here, is revelatory, giving me three films that I would swap any number of diamond dogs to make. The love and admiration these three films inspire in me meant I forgave Baz for Australia in a heartbeat.
Of course. For me. I like to stop Moulin Rouge five minutes before the end; it’s one climax I don’t want to see. I prefer to see Christian, Satine and all the whores happy…
Oh, I know, this one is always a bit contentious, right? On hearing my number two, people often screw up their faces and raise an eyebrow – really Moulin Rouge?