Moulin Rouge! (/ËmuËlÃ¦n ËruËÊ'/, from French:Â [mulÉÌ ËÊuÊ']) is a 2001 Australianâ"American pastiche-jukebox musical film directed, produced, and co-written by Baz Luhrmann. It tells the story of a young English poet/writer, Christian (Ewan McGregor), who falls in love with the terminally-ill star of the Moulin Rouge, cabaret actress and courtesan Satine (Nicole Kidman). It uses the musical setting of the Montmartre Quarter of Paris, France.
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 the year 1900, a depressed British writer named Christian (Ewan McGregor) begins writing on his typewriter ("Nature Boy"). One year earlier, Christian moved to the Montmartre district of Paris to become a writer among members of the area's Bohemian movement. He encounters performers led by Toulouse-Lautrec (John Leguizamo); his writing skills allow them to finish their proposed show, "Spectacular Spectacular", that they wish to sell to Harold Zidler (Jim Broadbent), owner of the Moulin Rouge. The group arrives at the Moulin Rouge as Zidler and his "Diamond Dog Dancers" perform for the audience ("Lady Marmalade/Zidler's Rap (Can Can)/Smells Like Teen Spirit"). Toulouse arranges for Christian to see Satine (Nicole Kidman), the star courtesan, in her private quarters to present the work, unaware that Zidler is promising Satine to the wealthy and unscrupulous Duke of Monroth (Richard Roxburgh), a potential investor in the cabaret ("Sparkling Diamonds" medley).
Satine mistakes Christian for the Duke, and dances with him before retiring to her private chamber with him to discuss things privately ("Rhythm of the Night"), but soon learns he is just a writer; by this time Satine has fallen in love with him ("Your Song"). The Duke interrupts them; Christian and Satine claim they were practicing lines for "Spectacular Spectacular". With Zidler's help, Toulouse and the rest of the troupe pitch the show to the Duke with an improvised 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 see Satine. Satine contemplates on Christian and her longing to leave the Moulin Rouge to become "a real actress" ("One Day I'll Fly Away"). Christian goes back to Satine to convince her that she loves him ("Elephant Love Medley"). As the cabaret is converted to a theater, Christian and Satine continue seeing each other under the pretense of rehearsing Satine's lines. The Duke becomes suspicious of their frequent meetings and warns Zidler that he may stop financing the show; Zidler arranges for Satine to dine with the Duke that evening, but she falls ill from tuberculosis ("GÃ³recki"). Zidler makes excuses to the Duke, claiming that Satine has gone to confession ("Like a Virgin"). Zidler learns that Satine does not have long to live. Satine tells Christian that their relationship endangers the show, but he counters by writing a secret love song to affirm their love ("Come What May").
As the Duke watches Christian rehearsing with Satine, Nini, a jealous performer, points out that the play is a metaphor for Christian, Satine and the Duke. Enraged, the Duke demands the ending be changed with the courtesan choosing the maharajah; Satine offers to spend the night with the Duke 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/Tanguera"). The Duke tries to rape her, but she is saved by Le Chocolat, one of the cabaret dancers, and reunited with Christian, who urges her to run away with him. The Duke tells Zidler he will have Christian killed if Satine is not his. Zidler reiterates this warning to Satine, but when she refuses to return, he finally informs her she is dying ("A Fool to Believe"). Zidler tells Satine to tell Christian that she will be staying with the Duke and she doesn't love him to push him away to save his life ("The Show Must Go On"). Christian tries following her, but is denied entry to the Moulin Rouge, and becomes depressed, even though Toulouse insists that Satine does love him.
The night of the show, Christian sneaks into the Moulin Rouge, intending to pay Satine to return his love just as the Duke paid for her ("Hindi Sad Diamonds"). He catches Satine before she steps on stage and demands she tell him she does not love him. Suddenly 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 cries out, "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 the Duke's own attempt is stopped by Zidler. The Duke storms out of the cabaret as Christian and Satine complete their song ("Come What May (Reprise)", "Coup d'Ãtat (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 Christian is writing the tale of his love for Satine, a "love that will live forever" ("Nature Boy (Reprise)").
The storyline of Moulin Rouge can be traced back to Alexandre Dumas, fils' The Lady of the Camellias, although Luhrmann, as an opera director, was probably more directly influenced by Verdi's adaptation, La traviata.
When asked about his inspiration for Moulin Rouge!, Luhrmann remarked:
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 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 while filming one of the more complicated dance sequences; she also stated in an interview with Graham Norton that she broke her 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/MÃ½a/Lil' Kim cover commissioned for the film), Madonna's "Like a Virgin" and "Material Girl", 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 â" 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 187 reviews, and a 65% "Fresh" rating, based on 40 "top" reviewers. 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 â" Musical or Comedy, Best Actress in a Motion Picture â" Musical or Comedy (for Nicole Kidman), Best Actor in a Motion Picture â" 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 13 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."
Songs performed in the film:
- "Nature Boy" â" Toulouse
- "The Sound of Music/Children of the Revolution" â" Christian, The Bohemians, and the Green Fairy
- "Lady Marmalade"/"Zidler's Rap (The Can-Can)"/"Smells Like Teen Spirit" â" Zidler, Moulin Rouge Dancers, and Patrons
- "Sparkling Diamonds"/"Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend"/"Material Girl" â" Satine and Moulin Rouge Dancers
- "Rhythm of the Night" â" Valeria
- "Your Song" â" Christian
- "The Pitch (Spectacular Spectacular)" â" Zidler, Christian, Satine, The Duke, and Bohemians
- "One Day I'll Fly Away" â" Satine
- "Elephant Love Medley" â" Christian and Satine
- "GÃ³recki" â" Satine
- "Like a Virgin" â" Zidler, The Duke, and Chorus Boys
- "Come What May" â" Christian, Satine, and Cast of Spectacular Spectacular
- "El Tango de Roxanne" â" The Argentine, Christian, Satine, and Moulin Rouge Dancers
- "Fool to Believe" â" Satine and Zidler
- "The Show Must Go On" â" Zidler, Satine, and Moulin Rouge Stagehands
- "Hindi Sad Diamonds" â" Nini Legs-in-the-Air, Satine, and the Cast of Spectacular Spectacular
- "Come What May (Reprise)" â" Satine and Christian
- "Coup d'Ãtat (Finale)" â" Cast of Spectacular Spectacular
- "Nature Boy (Reprise)" â" Toulouse
The following is a partial list of songs featured in the film along with the artist that popularized them.
- "Nature Boy" â" Nat King Cole, covered by David Bowie and remixed by Massive Attack for the soundtrack.
- "The Sound of Music" â" 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" â" also from The Sound of Music (but heard as instrumental)
- "Children of the Revolution" â" T. Rex
- "Lady Marmalade" â" Labelle, covered for the film, by Christina Aguilera, Lil' Kim, MÃ½a, Missy Elliott, and Pink)
- "Because We Can" â" Fatboy Slim
- "Complainte de la Butte" â" Georges Van Parys and Jean Renoir covered by Rufus Wainwright
- "Rhythm of the Night" â" DeBarge
- "Material Girl" â" Madonna
- "Smells Like Teen Spirit" â" Nirvana
- "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend" â" Carol Channing
- "Diamond Dogs" â" David Bowie covered for the film by Beck.
- "Galop Infernal (Can-can)" â" Jacques Offenbach (tune for Spectacular, Spectacular)
- "One Day I'll Fly Away" â" The Crusaders, later Randy Crawford
- "Children of the Revolution" â" T.Rex (Covered by Bono, Gavin Friday, Violent Femmes, and Maurice Seezer)
- "Gorecki" â" Lamb
- "Come What May" â" Ewan McGregor and Nicole Kidman (written by David Baerwald)
- "Roxanne" â" The Police (Title in film: "El Tango de Roxanne", combined with music "Tanguera" by Mariano Mores)
- "Tanguera" â" Mariano Mores (Title in film: "El Tango de Roxanne", combined with music "Roxanne" by The Police)
- "The Show Must Go On" â" Queen
- "Like a Virgin" â" Madonna
- "Your Song" â" Elton John
- "Chamma Chamma" â" 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 â" Andy Scott and Trevor Griffin
- "Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing" by Sammy Fain â" Sammy Fain and Paul Francis Webster
- "Up Where We Belong" by Joe Cocker and Jennifer Warnes â" Jack Nitzsche and Buffy Sainte-Marie
- "All You Need Is Love" by The Beatles â" John Lennon and Paul McCartney
- "I Was Made for Lovin' You" by Kiss â" Desmond Child, Paul Stanley, Vini Poncia
- "One More Night" by Phil Collins â" Phil Collins
- "Pride" by U2 â" U2
- "Don't Leave Me This Way" by Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes â" Kenneth Gamble, Leon Huff, and Cary Gilbert
- "Silly Love Songs" by Wings â" Paul McCartney
- "Heroes" by David Bowie â" David Bowie
- "I Will Always Love You" by Dolly Parton and later Whitney Houston â" Dolly Parton
- "Your Song" by Elton John â" Elton John and Bernie Taupin
The "Elephant Love Medley" also contains additional original lyrics that are unattributed.
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 for "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, MÃ½a 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.
For a while in 2002â"03, there was speculation about the possibility of a stage musical based on Moulin Rouge!, possibly in Las Vegas, but there have 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 (In the Beautiful and Bizarre Moulin Rouge) toured Germany and produced a cast recording.
- Official website
- Moulin Rouge! at the Internet Movie Database
- Moulin Rouge! at Box Office Mojo
- Moulin Rouge! at Rotten Tomatoes
- Moulin Rouge! at Metacritic