[box cover]

Moulin Rouge (2001)

Set in 1899 — "the summer of love" — Moulin Rouge tells the tale of Christian, (Ewan McGregor), a young English writer who arrives in Paris with stars in his eyes and a glorified ideal of Love. In his seedy Montmarte boarding house he meets a group of bohemian artists, led by Henri Toulouse-Lautrec (John Leguizamo), and is quickly drawn into their latest project — a musical entertainment to be titled "Spectacular Spectacular." In an effort to get the play produced at the Moulin Rouge, Christian is set up to meet with the courtesan/performer Satine (Nicole Kidman), the show's star attraction. Naturally, he falls in love with her at first sight and complications ensue. Of course, the above description doesn't really describe Baz Luhrmann's Moulin Rouge at all. From the very start we're made aware that this is going to be a highly theatrical production and thus should abandon all expectations of realism. What follows is hammy, exhilarating, sometimes annoying, at times positively vaudevillian... yet often engrossing. Luhrmann draws from an insanely diverse range of influences, including Gilbert and Sullivan, MGM musicals, the myth of Orpheus, '80s pop music, and Bollywood extravaganzas, and the result is jaw-dropping in its surreal frenzy of colors and sounds. However, four years in the making, Moulin Rouge suffers greatly from too much attention to detail. Everything passes by much too quickly, giving lightning-fast glimpses of costumes, sets, dance numbers, faces. Even the songs are truncated, with most being just a verse or two before the film speeds off to the next scene. The unfortunate result is that elaborate dance numbers, reduced to successions of three-second visuals, become just so much background color. But the delights Moulin Rouge has to offer transcend these quibbles. McGregor is a surprisingly good song-and-dance man, and he plays his role with such sincerity and conviction that it's impossible to not be swept up in his dewy-eyed fervor. Kidman is very much the movie star here, her flawless hair and make-up almost upstaging her in her own scenes, and she looks incredible in the costumes. Which is really what it's all about at the end of the day: Moulin Rouge is primarily a visual feast. If you can keep up without needing to reach for the Dramamine, you may find that you love it. Fox's two-disc Moulin Rouge was produced by director Luhrmann, who has crammed it with more than six hours of extras. The anamorphic transfer (1.85:1) is sparkling, and the Dolby Digital 5.1 audio presents the many-layered soundtrack to full advantage. The many supplements include two commentary tracks featuring Luhrmann and his production crew; the interactive "Behind The Red Velvet Curtain" version of the film with on-the-fly links to extra content (click on the "Green Fairy"); the 25-min. featurette "The Making of Moulin Rouge"; interviews with Kidman, McGregor, Leguizamo, and other stars; deleted scenes; full versions of the dances; still galleries on set design, costume design, graphic design, and special effects; Music videos and live performances of "Lady Marmalade"; and audio for the visually impaired. Dual-DVD digipak in paperboard slipcase.
—Dawn Taylor

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