Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Baz Luhrmann|
|Music by||Craig Armstrong|
|Cinematography||Donald M. McAlpine|
|Edited by||Jill Bilcock|
|Distributed by||20th Century Fox|
|Box office||$179.2 million|
Moulin Rouge! (/ /, French: [mulɛ̃ ʁuʒ]) is a 2001 jukebox musical romantic drama film directed, co-produced, and co-written by Baz Luhrmann. The film tells the story of a young English poet/writer, Christian (Ewan McGregor), who falls in love with the star of the Moulin Rouge, cabaret actress and courtesan Satine (Nicole Kidman). It uses the musical setting of the Montmartre Quarter of Paris, France. The film is the third part of Luhrmann's "Red Curtain Trilogy," following Strictly Ballroom and Romeo + Juliet.
At the 74th Academy Awards, the film was nominated for eight Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Actress for Nicole Kidman, winning two: for Best Art Direction and Best Costume Design. It was the first musical nominated for Best Picture in 10 years, following Disney's Beauty and the Beast (1991). In BBC's 2016 poll of the greatest films since 2000, Moulin Rouge! ranked 53rd.
In 1900 Paris, a man named Christian, who is suffering from depression, begins writing ("Nature Boy"). One year earlier, he moves to the Montmartre district to join the Bohemian movement. Meeting a troupe of performers led by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Christian helps them finish their show, Spectacular Spectacular, to sell to Harold Zidler, owner of the Moulin Rouge. They arrive at the Moulin Rouge as Zidler and his "Diamond Dog Dancers" perform ("Zidler's Rap Medley/Can Can Dance"). Toulouse arranges for Christian to present the work to Satine, the star courtesan, unaware that Zidler has promised Satine to the Duke of Monroth, his potential investor ("Sparkling Diamonds").
Satine mistakes Christian for the Duke, and they dance before retiring to her chamber ("Rhythm of the Night", "Meet Me in the Red Room"), but she learns he is merely a writer ("Your Song"). The Duke interrupts, and Christian and Satine claim they were rehearsing Spectacular Spectacular. With the help of Zidler, Toulouse, and the troupe, they pitch the show to the Duke, improvising a plot about an evil maharajah attempting to woo an Indian courtesan who loves a poor sitar player ("The Pitch (Spectacular Spectacular)"). The Duke backs the show, on the condition that only he may court Satine. Satine contemplates Christian and her longing to become "a real actress" ("One Day I'll Fly Away"). Christian returns, and he and Satine fall for each other ("Elephant Love Medley").
As the cabaret is converted to a theater, Christian and Satine meet under the pretense of rehearsing. When the suspicious Duke threatens to stop financing the show, Zidler arranges for Satine to dine with the Duke, but she falls ill from tuberculosis ("If I should die (Górecki)"). Zidler tells the Duke that Satine has gone to confession ("Like a Virgin"). Zidler learns from the doctor treating Satine that she does not have long to live, but keeps this from Christian. Satine tells Christian their relationship endangers the show, but he writes a song to affirm their love ("Come What May").
Nini, a jealous performer, reveals to the Duke that the play is a metaphor for Christian, Satine, and the Duke. The Duke demands the ending be changed to the courtesan choosing the maharajah; Satine offers to spend the night with him to keep the original ending. At the Duke's quarters, Satine sees Christian on the streets below, and realizes she cannot sleep with the Duke ("El Tango de Roxanne (Roxanne)"). The Duke attempts to rape her, but she is saved by the dancer Le Chocolat. Christian urges Satine to run away with him. The Duke tells Zidler he will have Christian killed if Satine is not his. Zidler warns Satine, but when she refuses, he informs her that she is dying ("A Fool to Believe"). Zidler explains that to save Christian's life, Satine must reject him ("The Show Must Go On"). Barred from the Moulin Rouge, Christian is heartbroken, though Toulouse insists Satine does love him.
The night of the show, Christian sneaks into the Moulin Rouge, intending to pay Satine her fee as a courtesan ("Hindi Sad Diamonds"). He confronts her backstage, but they find themselves in the spotlight; Zidler convinces the audience that Christian is the sitar player in disguise. Christian denounces Satine and walks off the stage. From the rafters, Toulouse declares, "The greatest thing you'll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return", spurring Satine to sing the song Christian wrote to express their love. Christian returns to the stage, joining her in the song. The Duke orders his bodyguard to kill Christian, but is thwarted, while Zidler stops the Duke's own attempt. The Duke storms out as Christian and Satine complete their song ("Come What May (Reprise)", "Coup d'État (Finale)").
After the curtain closes, Satine succumbs to tuberculosis. Before she dies, Christian and Satine affirm their love and she tells him to write their story. A year later, the Moulin Rouge has closed down and was left in disrepair, and Christian finishes writing the tale of his love for Satine, a "love that will live forever" ("Nature Boy (Reprise)").
- Nicole Kidman as Satine (based on Jane Avril)
- Ewan McGregor as Christian
- Jim Broadbent as Harold Zidler
- Richard Roxburgh as The Duke of Monroth
- John Leguizamo as Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec
- Jacek Koman as The Narcoleptic Argentinean
- Caroline O'Connor as Nini
- Kerry Walker as Marie
- Lara Mulcahy as Môme Fromage
- Garry McDonald as The Doctor
- Matt Whittet as Erik Satie
- Keith Robinson as Le Pétomane
- David Wenham as Audrey
- Kiruna Stamell as La Petite Princesse
- DeObia Oparei as Le Chocolat
- Kylie Minogue as The Green Fairy
- Peter Whitford as The Stage Manager
- Linal Haft as Warner
When asked about his inspiration for Moulin Rouge!, Luhrmann remarked:
When I was in India researching Midsummer Night's Dream, we went to this huge, ice cream picture palace to see a Bollywood movie. Here we were, with 2,000 Indians watching a film in Hindi, and there was the lowest possible comedy and then incredible drama and tragedy and then break out in songs. And it was three-and-a-half hours! We thought we had suddenly learnt Hindi, because we understood everything! We thought it was incredible. How involved the audience were. How uncool they were – how their coolness had been ripped aside and how they were united in this singular sharing of the story. The thrill of thinking, 'Could we ever do that in the West? Could we ever get past that cerebral cool and perceived cool.' It required this idea of comic-tragedy. Could you make those switches? Fine in Shakespeare – low comedy and then you die in five minutes. ... In Moulin Rouge, we went further. Our recognisable story, though Orphean in shape, is derived from Camille, La Boheme – whether you know those texts or not, you recognise those patterns and character types.
Luhrmann revealed that he drew from the Greek tragedy of Orpheus and Eurydice in the DVD's audio commentary. The legend of Orpheus says he was a musical genius, far surpassing anyone in his world; the filmmakers chose to replicate this by using songs from the mid-to-late 20th century, many decades after the film's 1899 setting. In this way, Christian would appear to the other characters to be ahead-of-his-time as a musician and writer.
Leonardo DiCaprio, who worked with Luhrmann on Romeo + Juliet, auditioned for the role of Christian. Luhrmann also considered younger actors for the role, including Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal before Ewan McGregor won the part. Courtney Love auditioned for the role of Satine and assisted in clearing licensing rights for "Smells Like Teen Spirit" to be used in the film.
Production began in November 1999 and was completed in May 2000, with a budget of $52.5 million. Filming generally went smoothly, with the only major problem occurring when Kidman injured her ribs twice while filming one of the more complicated dance sequences and also suffered from a torn knee cartilage resulting from a fall during the "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend" production song; she also stated in an interview with Graham Norton that she broke a rib while getting into a corset, by tightening it as much as possible to achieve an 18-inch waist. The production also overran in its shooting schedule and had to be out of the Fox Studios in Sydney to make way for Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones (in which McGregor also starred). This necessitated some pick-up shots being filmed in Madrid.
In the liner notes to the film's Special Edition DVD, Luhrmann writes that "[the] whole stylistic premise has been to decode what the Moulin Rouge was to the audiences of 1899 and express that same thrill and excitement in a way to which contemporary movie-goers can relate." With that in mind, the film takes well-known popular music, mostly drawn from the MTV Generation, and anachronizes it into a tale set in a turn-of-the-century Paris cabaret. The movie also features editing that several critics compared to a music video, involving swirling camera motion, loud music, dancing, and frenetic cutting. Some of the songs sampled include "Chamma Chamma" from the Hindi movie China Gate, Queen's "The Show Must Go On" (arranged in operatic format), David Bowie's rendition of Eden Ahbez's "Nature Boy", "Lady Marmalade" by Patti LaBelle (the Christina Aguilera/P!nk/Mýa/Lil' Kim cover commissioned for the film), Madonna's "Material Girl" and "Like a Virgin", Elton John's "Your Song", the titular number of The Sound of Music, "Roxanne" by The Police (in a tango format using the composition "Tanguera" by Mariano Mores), and "Smells Like Teen Spirit" by Nirvana, a song rarely used in films. The film uses so much popular music that it took Luhrmann almost two years to secure all the rights to the songs.
Release and reception
Originally set for release on Christmas 2000 as a high-profile Oscar contender, 20th Century Fox eventually moved the release to the following spring so director Luhrmann would have more time during post-production. The film premiered at the 2001 Cannes Film Festival on 9 May – making it the festival's opening title.
Moulin Rouge! received generally positive reviews from critics. The film holds a rating of 66/100 at Metacritic based on 35 reviews, and a 76% "Fresh" rating at Rotten Tomatoes, based on 199 reviews, and an average rating of 7.10/10, and a 64% "Fresh" rating, based on 42 "top" reviewers, saying "A love-it-or-hate-it experience, Moulin Rouge is all style, all giddy, over-the-top spectacle. But it's also daring in its vision and wildly original." In December 2001, it was named the best film of the year by viewers of Film 2001.
Awards and honors
The film was selected by the National Board of Review as the best film of 2001. It picked up six Golden Globe nominations including Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy, Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy (for Nicole Kidman), Best Actor in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy (for Ewan McGregor), Best Original Score (for Craig Armstrong), Best Director (for Baz Luhrmann) and Best Song ("Come What May"). It won three including the coveted Best Picture trophy. A few weeks later, it received 12 nominations at the BAFTA Awards, making it the most nominated film of the year for that ceremony. It took home three, including Best Supporting Actor for Jim Broadbent.
The film received eight Oscar nominations, including Best Actress in a Leading Role and Best Picture. The film was not nominated for Best Director (Luhrmann); commenting on this during the Oscar ceremony, host Whoopi Goldberg remarked, "I guess Moulin Rouge! just directed itself." The film won the awards for Best Costume Design and Best Art Direction.
"Come What May" (the only original song in the film) was disqualified from nomination for an Oscar because it was originally written (but unused) for Luhrmann's previous film Romeo + Juliet and not written expressly for Moulin Rouge!.
Entertainment Weekly put it on its end-of-the-decade, "best-of" list, saying, "Baz Luhrmann's trippy pop culture pastiche from 2001 was an aesthetically arresting ode to poetry, passion, and Elton John. It was so good, we'll forgive him for Australia."(1079/1080).
- Nature Boy – Toulouse
- Complainte de la Butte/Children of the Revolution
- The Sound of Music – Toulouse, Christian, and Satie
- Green Fairy Medley (The Sound of Music/Children of the Revolution/Nature Boy) – Christian, The Bohemians, and the Green Fairy
- Zidler's Rap Medley (Lady Marmalade/Zidler's Rap/Because We Can/Smells Like Teen Spirit) – Zidler, Moulin Rouge Dancers, Christian and Patrons
- Sparkling Diamonds (Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend/Material Girl) – Satine and Moulin Rouge Dancers
- Rhythm of the Night – Moulin Rouge Dancers
- Sparkling Diamonds (Reprise) – Satine
- Meet Me in the Red Room
- Your Song – Christian
- Your Song (Reprise) – Satine
- The Pitch - Spectacular Spectacular – Zidler, Christian, Satine, The Duke, and Bohemians
- One Day I'll Fly Away – Satine and Christian
- Elephant Love Medley – Christian and Satine
- Górecki – Satine
- Like a Virgin – Zidler, The Duke, and Chorus Boys
- Come What May – Christian, Satine, the Argentinean and Cast of Spectacular Spectacular
- El Tango de Roxanne – The Argentinean, Christian, Satine, The Duke, and Moulin Rouge Dancers
- Fool to Believe – Satine
- One Day I'll Fly Away (Reprise) – Satine and Zidler
- The Show Must Go On – Zidler, Satine, and Moulin Rouge Stagehands
- Hindi Sad Diamonds (Chamma Chamma/Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend) – Toulouse, Nini Legs-in-the-Air, Satine, and the Cast of Spectacular Spectacular
- Come What May (Reprise) – Satine and Christian
- Coup d'État/Finale (The Show Must Go On/Children of the Revolution/Your Song/One Day I'll Fly Away/Come What May) – Christian, Satine, and Cast of Spectacular Spectacular
- Nature Boy (Reprise) – Toulouse and Christian
The following is a partial list of songs featured in the film along with the artist that popularized them.
- "Nature Boy" – Nat King Cole, covered by David Bowie and remixed by Massive Attack for the soundtrack.
- "The Sound of Music" – Mary Martin (and later by Julie Andrews) (from the Rodgers & Hammerstein musical of the same name, featuring overdubbed theremin played by Bruce Woolley)
- "The Lonely Goatherd" – also from The Sound of Music (but heard as instrumental)
- "Lady Marmalade" – Labelle, covered for the film, (by Christina Aguilera, Lil' Kim, Mýa, Missy Elliott, and Pink)
- "Because We Can" – Fatboy Slim
- "Complainte de la Butte" – Georges Van Parys and Jean Renoir covered by Rufus Wainwright
- "Rhythm of the Night" – DeBarge
- "Material Girl" – Madonna
- "Smells Like Teen Spirit" – Nirvana
- "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend" – Introduced by Carol Channing, made popular by Marilyn Monroe.
- "Diamond Dogs" – David Bowie covered for the film by Beck.
- "Galop Infernal (Can-can)" – Jacques Offenbach (tune for Spectacular, Spectacular)
- "One Day I'll Fly Away" – The Crusaders, later Randy Crawford
- "Children of the Revolution" – T.Rex (Covered by Bono, Gavin Friday, Violent Femmes, and Maurice Seezer)
- "Gorecki" – Lamb
- "Come What May" – Ewan McGregor and Nicole Kidman (written by David Baerwald)
- "Roxanne" – The Police (Title in film: "El Tango de Roxanne", combined with music "Tanguera" by Mariano Mores)
- "Tanguera" – Mariano Mores (Title in film: "El Tango de Roxanne", combined with music "Roxanne" by The Police)
- "The Show Must Go On" – Queen
- "Like a Virgin" – Madonna
- "Your Song" – Elton John
- "Chamma Chamma" – Alka Yagnik (Incorporated in the film song titled "Hindi Sad Diamonds"; originally performed by Alka Yagnik in the 1998 Hindi film China Gate, composed by Anu Malik).
- Elephant Love Medley
The following is a list of songs featured in the medley, along with the names of the writers and singers of the original.
- "Love Is Like Oxygen" by Sweet – Andy Scott and Trevor Griffin
- "Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing" by Sammy Fain – Sammy Fain and Paul Francis Webster
- "All You Need Is Love" by The Beatles – John Lennon and Paul McCartney
- "I Was Made for Lovin' You" by Kiss – Desmond Child, Paul Stanley, Vini Poncia
- "One More Night" by Phil Collins – Phil Collins
- "In the Name of Love" by U2 – U2
- "Don't Leave Me This Way" by Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes – Kenneth Gamble, Leon Huff, and Cary Gilbert
- "Silly Love Songs" by Wings – Paul McCartney
- "Up Where We Belong" by Joe Cocker and Jennifer Warnes – Jack Nitzsche and Buffy Sainte-Marie
- "Heroes" by David Bowie – David Bowie
- "I Will Always Love You" by Dolly Parton and later Whitney Houston – Dolly Parton
- "Your Song" by Elton John – Elton John and Bernie Taupin
The "Elephant Love Medley" also contains additional original lyrics by Italian pop tenor Alessandro Safina.. "Love Is Like Oxygen" and "Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing" are only spoken dialogue, they are not actually sung in the medley.
In the Blu-ray release, it was revealed that the song that was planned to open the film was originally Cat Stevens' "Father and Son", sung by Christian where he argues with his father for making him see that he has to go to Paris in order to make his dreams come true. Cat Stevens refused the permission for using the song in the film, therefore the song was changed to "Nature Boy".
Two soundtrack albums were released, with the second coming after the first one's massive success. The first volume featured the smash hit single "Lady Marmalade", performed by Christina Aguilera, Lil' Kim, Mýa and Pink. The first soundtrack, Moulin Rouge! Music from Baz Luhrmann's Film, was released on 8 May 2001, with the second Moulin Rouge! Music from Baz Luhrmann's Film, Vol. 2 following on 26 February 2002.
In 2002–2003, there was speculation about the possibility of a stage musical based on Moulin Rouge!, possibly in Las Vegas, but there had been no public talks in the years since. Some sources claimed in 2006 that the director, Baz Luhrmann, had approached the leads of the film, Kidman and McGregor, to star in the potential stage version. In 2008, a stage adaptation, La Belle Bizarre du Moulin Rouge (The Bizarre Beauty of the Moulin Rouge) toured Germany and produced a cast recording.
In 2016, it was announced that a stage musical was being developed by Global Creatures, with direction by Alex Timbers. Moulin Rouge: The Musical premiered on 10 July 2018 at the Colonial Theatre in Boston, MA. The book is written by John Logan with direction by Alex Timbers. It is starring Aaron Tveit as Christian and Karen Olivo as Satine. The Broadway production began previews at the Al Hirscheld Theatre on 28 June 2019, and officially opened on 26 July.
In popular culture
In the 2017–18 figure skating season, at the 2018 Winter Olympics, Canadian skaters Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir performed two selections from Moulin Rouge!, interpreting the story of Christian and Satine through "The Show Must Go On", "El Tango de Roxanne" and "Come What May". Their performance won the Gold in the team and the individual events. At this event, Virtue and Moir became the most decorated skaters of all time.
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