I adore this film so much. Its so much fun, its beautifully shot and is an incredible blend of comedy and tragedy. Oh, and it has one of my favourite soundtracks and favourite song of all time. I bow to you Baz Luhrmann, you did it again.
For my A Level Film Studies course, I studied Baz Luhrmann’s Red Curtain Trilogy and the style of Red Curtain Cinema so I know a little about it and now you will too. There are three rules to Red Curtain Cinema; have an underlining myth or story that the audience recognizes so they know how its going to end, set it in a heightened created world that seems very far away and theatrical yet still familiar and keep the audience in contract so they don‘t forget they‘re in a cinema and they can participate. The underlining myth/story for Moulin Rouge! is the orphan story; the journey from youthful idealism into the underworld, confronting the notion that there are things you cannot control. The heightened created world is 19th century Montmartre, Paris and to keep the audience in contract, the characters burst into song to allow the audience to participate in the story. These characters may be in a different time zone [and country] but they sing modern songs with theatrical/musical twists. Luhrmann and Craig Armstrong managed to turn these popular songs to fit with their story in such a perfect way that you tend to forget the original versions. You have such ‘remastered’ songs as The Sound of Music, Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend, Roxanne, The Show Must Go On and Your Song. Thing is, you will either love these new versions or hate them and stick to your loyalty of the originals. I, for one, LOVE THEM! I have the soundtrack and have listened to it countless times. My favourite song from the movie [and of all time] is El Tango De Roxanne. Its so powerful and moving that you find yourself stopping what you’re doing and imagining the film with the tango dancers and The Duke with Satine. I’ve actually paused writing this review so I can listen to the song again!
Sorry, back to the review. This movie is so colorful and vibrant. It has all the colours of the rainbow, though I’d say the main focus is probably red. I think there’s red in pretty much every scene that’s not a sad scene. In my eyes, the red symbolizes the love, it is always there. It will leave you wanting to sing, dance, fall in love and cry all at the same time. It has one of the most heartbreaking endings I’ve ever seen in a movie, even more heartbreaking than Brokeback Mountain. I could never watch the ending of Moulin Rouge! with my family because I didn’t want to cry in front of them! But it’s a good thing! It just shows how powerful this movie is and how strong these two character’s love is. We feel so connected to the characters that we burst into tears at this tragic ending. It’s a perfect tragic comedy that would make William Shakespeare proud.
Throughout the movie we get a sense of theatre and imagination not only through the characters bursting into song but because of the settings and editing. In Elephant Love Medley [an amazing blend of modern songs], at one point they’re in the elephant house type thing then the next minute they’re singing and dancing in the clouds with the Eiffel Tower poking through and a opera-singing moon. The editing gives it a fantasy-like feel as there are a lot of jump-cuts [where the scenes don’t ‘flow’ from one clip to another narratively] and fast-motion. Everything is over the top like the theatre should be, everything from the costumes, the lighting, the singing and The Duke’s evil moustache.
Do you believe in beauty? Freedom? Truth? Love? Nicole Kidman singing whilst being the most pale woman in the world? Ewan McGregor looking incredibly hot whilst singing with one of the most beautiful male voices ever and you can’t help but think “OMG Obi-Wan Kenobi can sing!”? Are you one of the few people in the world who hasn’t seen Moulin Rouge!? Watch this movie. Its one of the most visually and narratively beautiful movies you’ll ever watch. And it has some incredibly catchy tunes that you won’t be able to help but sing!
The greatest thing you’ll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return.