6. Moulin Rouge!

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Movie: Moulin Rouge!

Release Date: June 1, 2001

Director: Baz Luhrmann

Starring: Nicole Kidman, Ewan McGregor, John Leguizamo, Jim Broadbent, Richard Roxburgh.

Tag Lines: “No Laws. No Limits. One Rule. Never Fall In Love.”

“This Story Is About Truth.”

“This Story Is About Beauty.”

“This Story Is About Freedom.”

“Above All Things This Story Is About Love.”

“Truth – Beauty – Freedom – Love.”

“Club Moulin Rouge – an experience you won’t forget!”

“The show must go on.”

“The greatest thing you’ll ever learn is just to love, and be loved in return.”

“Every man wanted her. But One man dared to love her.”

“Believe In Truth, Beauty, Freedom, and above all things, Love.”

“This is a story about LOVE, Music is the food of LOVE, Nothing matters but LOVE.”

“Come And Get Me Boys!”

“This story is about love, overcoming all obstacles.”

“He entered in a world where fantasies are real.”

Relevance: If you paid close attention to my blog, you knew that ‘Moulin Rouge’ was headed here sooner or later. Released in the summer of 2001, ‘Moulin Rouge,’ the third and final entry in Baz Luhrmann’s “Red Curtain Trilogy” (see 324. Romeo + Juliet and 268. Strictly Ballroom), was already receiving early promotion that Spring thanks to the release of “Lady Marmalade” by Christina Aguilera, P!nk, Mya and Lil Kim. The song, produced by Missy Elliott and a remake of the 1974 Labelle hit, was a number one chart topper in the United States. The video was getting massive air play on MTV (when they played videos) as well as the radio and it seemed everyone was singing “Voulez-vous coucher avec moi, ce soir?” I most certainly was.

Already a fan of Baz Luhrmann as well as Nicole Kidman, that song and video really piqued my interest in the film. And then I saw the trailer. The fast paced visuals and music really got me excited for the movie. In May, right around the time the film premiered at Cannes, the soundtrack was released. I worked as a manager in a music and movie retail store and was thrilled to see it arrive. I was even more thrilled when it was approved for our in-store playlist. The moment I listened to the soundtrack, I knew that I was going to love the movie. I mean, the snippet alone of Madonna’s “Material Girl” in “Sparkling Diamonds” was enough to make me buy it. I loved every track on the CD, especially the ballad, “Come What May.” At that time I had a forty-five minute commute to and from work. I used that forty-five minutes to belt out that song from May through the entire summer. I already loved the film before even seeing it.

I did not see ‘Moulin Rouge!’ as soon as it was released. It’s not that I didn’t want to, I just was having difficulty finding the free time between work and private life. A few weeks after it came out and everyone in my life telling me that I needed to go see it, I did. I went to a late night showing with my then partner in a small little art theater in upstate New York. The theater was not very crowded, maybe six people including us, but I was excited to be there with my popcorn and Jujubes. Those first fifteen minutes of the movie were dizzying. It was like a music video on acid and I didn’t know what to think. Despite not knowing what to make of the film at that time, I was still riveted. Once the film settled down, or more I got used to Mr. Luhrmann’s direction and editing, I fell head over in heels in love with the story. For the next two hours, I was in heaven and left the theater in tears.

‘Moulin Rouge’ received positive reviews from critics but there were definitely some haters out there. It was a box office success, so it seemed there were more fans than those that turned up their noses to it. I was a huge advocate of the film and it was one that I talked about for months. I told everyone, family, friends and strangers, that they needed to see the movie and promoted the soundtrack at work non-stop. I listened to it incessantly, probably to the annoyance of my co-workers, but I didn’t care. I loved it. As mentioned already, I was a Nicole Kidman fan, but this movie made me love her even more. Still on a Ms. Kidman high thanks to ‘Moulin Rouge,’ I went to another movie starring her that August called ‘The Others’ (see 150. The Others). This solidified to me her incredible talent. Grace Stewart and Satine were two completely different characters and she played them both impeccably. She was no longer ex-Mrs. Tom Cruise. She was a star.

The film became the darling of awards season that year and was nominated for eight Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Actress. It eventually won two technical awards. It was released in December to home media as a rental and DVD. Up to that point I did not own a DVD player. I was still old school Mr. VHS. Unfortunately they were not releasing the VHS. So for Christmas that year I asked for a DVD player and ‘Moulin Rouge’ on DVD, and that’s exactly what I got. The movie prompted me to get with technology since I needed to own and re-watch this film as soon as possible. And that’s exactly what I did.

‘Moulin Rouge’ has remained one of my favorite musicals and films in general of all time. I have watched it countless times and I never tire of it. I also purchased volume two of the soundtrack when it was released and all of those songs are still played on my iPhone often. “Come What May” has become one of my favorite songs from any genre and I still belt it out in my car when it shuffles on. Steven Spielberg has been sited as my favorite director with nine (of the thirty plus that he has directed) included on my list of most influential movies of all time. Mr. Luhrmann has three on my list, but has only directed five thus far. I obviously have a thing for Baz as well as his films are delightful, fun, different and innovative. ‘Moulin Rouge’ was his crowning achievement and has remained close to my heart since 2001. So much so that I made sure that I saw the original cast of the Broadway show last year. It was just as fantastic as the film. In my opinion, ‘Moulin Rouge’ is as close to perfect as you can get.

Today’s Thoughts: “We have a dance in the brothels of Buenos Aires. It tells the story of the prostitute and a man who falls in love with her. First, there is desire. Then, passion. Then, suspicion. Jealousy. Anger. Betrayal. When love is for the highest bidder, there can be no trust. Without trust, there can be no love. Jealousy, yes, jealousy will drive you mad.”

I own the Special Edition of ‘Moulin Rouge’ on DVD and have watched it numerous times throughout the years. As I said, I never, ever get tired of it. Today, with my son off to work and my husband napping, I watched this hyper active, tragic love story again. And again, I fell in love and cried like a baby.

‘Moulin Rouge’ is still a frenetic yet satisfying watch. I still love the songs, the costumes, the sets and especially the acting. Ms. Kidman is glorious as Satine, but it is Ewan McGregor that breaks my heart every single time. “Thank you for curing me of my ridiculous obsession with love.” I can’t help but weep every time he says that line. This is a big Kleenex movie for me. The film is just so magical and although heartbreaking, makes me smile. That tango scene a la “Roxanne” is still my favorite scene in the movie. (It was equally fantastic on Broadway.) The choreography (of both) is just kick ass. I could watch that scene alone over and over again.

If you are one of those readers that dislikes ‘Moulin Rouge,’ you are dead to me. We can’t be friends. This film is what movie magic should be all about. Original, artistic, moving and larger than life. It really is a fantastic film and I will love it until the day I die. It is not a holiday movie, but because I originally got it as a Christmas gift, it always reminds me of this time of year. So make it part of your Boxing Day tradition and check it out. You won’t be disappointed.

Awards: Academy Award for Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, Catherine Martin, Brigitte Broch (winner), Academy Award for Best Costume Design, Catherin Martin, Angus Strathie (winner), Academy Award for Best Picture (nomination), Academy Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role, Nicole Kidman (nomination), Best Cinematography, Donald McAlpine (nomination), Academy Award for Best Film Editing, Jill Bilcock (nomination), Academy Award for Best Makeup, Maurizio Silvi, Aldo Signoretti (nomination), Academy Award for Best Sound, Andy Nelson, Anna Behlmer, Roger Savage, Guntis Sics (nomination), Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical (winner), Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical, Nicole Kidman (winner), Golden Globe for Best Original Score – Motion Picture, Craig Armstrong (winner), Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical, Ewan McGregor (nomination), Golden Globe for Best Director – Motion Picture, Baz Luhrmann (nomination), Golden Globe for Best Original Song – Motion Picture, “Come What May,” Dave Baerwald (nomination), BAFTA Award for Best Film Music, Craig Armstrong, Marius DeVries (winner), BAFTA Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role, Jim Broadbent (winner), BAFTA Award for Best Sound, Andy Nelson, Anna Behlmer, Roger Savage, Guntis Sics (nomination), BAFTA Award for Best Film (nomination), BAFTA Award for Best Direction, Baz Luhrmann (nomination), BAFTA Award for Best Screenplay – Original, Baz Luhrmann, Craig Pearce (nomination), BAFTA Award for Best Cinematography, Donald McAlpine (nomination), BAFTA Award for Best Production Design, Catherine Martin (nomination), BAFTA Award for Best Costume Design, Catherin Martin, Angus Strathie (nomination), BAFTA Award for Best Editing, Jill Bilcock (nomination), BAFTA Award for Best Achievement in Special Visual Effects, Chris Godfrey, Andy Brown, Nathan McGuiness, Brian Cox (nomination), BAFTA Award for Best Makeup/Hair, Maurizio Silvi, Aldo Signoretti (nomination), Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by the Cast of a Theatrical Motion Picture (nomination), Directors Guild of America Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion Pictures, Baz Luhrmann (nomination), Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award, Best Supporting Actor, Jim Broadbent (winner), Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award, Best Production Design, Catherine Martin (winner), National Board of Review Award for Best Film (winner), National Board of Review Award for Top Ten Films (winner), National Board of Review Award for Best Supporting Actor, Jim Broadbent (winner), PGA Award for Outstanding Producer of Theatrical Motion Pictures, Baz Luhrmann, Fred Baron, Martin Brown (winner), Writers Guild of America Award for Best Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen, Baz Luhrmann, Craig Pearce (nomination).

Ways to Watch: Hulu, HBO Max, Amazon Prime, YouTube, Google Play, Vudu, DVD Availability.

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