DVD & Blu-ray Reviews

Moulin Rouge, Blu-ray (2001/2010)

Baz Luhrmann's wild and woolly film musical using current pop tunes.

Published on October 23, 2010

Moulin Rouge, Blu-ray (2001/2010)

Moulin Rouge, Blu-ray (2001/2010)

Starring Nicole Kidman, Ewan McGregor, John Leguizamo, Jim Broadbent
Director: Baz Luhrmann
Studio: 20th Century Fox [10/19/10]
Video: 2.40:1 anamorphic/enhanced for 16:9, 1080p HD
Audio: English DTS-HD Master Audio, English descriptive 5.1, Spanish/French/Portuguese DD 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, Portuguese
Extras: “Spectacular, Spectacular” PIP mode with audio commentary by Luhrmann and others, behind-the-scenes footage and stills; “A Creative Adventure” new featurette; “A Word from Baz;” Footage from the Bazmark Vault: incl. Father & Son alternate opening tune & Nicole Kidman’s vocal test; Other featurettes and interviews: “The Stars,” “The Writers,” “The Design,” “The Dance,” The Music,” “The Cutting Room;” Featurette “The Making of Moulin Rouge;” BD-Live; “Live Lookup;” more…
Length: 128 minutes
Rating: ****(*)

I had heard that this was a very popular movie musical that many people raved over – similar to the recent fuss over Mama Mia. What I wasn’t aware of was that the primary reason for its popularity seems to be that it uses not songs that would be appropriate to the c.1900/Paris setting of the musical, but instead pop song hits such as “Nature Boy,” “Material Girl,” “The Hills Are Alive With Music,” Elton John’s “Your Song,” and the one that threw me the most: Kidder as the Moulin Rouge songstress star on a swing, singing “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend.”

Baz Lhurmann is an Australian industry all by himself. His previous big hits were Strictly Ballroom and Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet.  He specializes in over-the-top “red curtain” musical extravaganzas that come on super-strong with an orgy of fantastic sets, costumes, dances and editing tricks that make all other movie musicals look plodding. Some have identified his films as two-hour music videos. I hadn’t known they were doing extravaganzas like this in Australia.

The somewhat thin plot is basically a love story concerning a young handsome and struggling British writer who comes to Paris in 1899, attracted by the bohemian aspect. He quickly meets up first with some fellow bohemians – including Toulouse-Lautrec – and then with the prime entertainer and courtesan of the Moulin Rouge – Satine – and sparks fly. But there is a wealthy duke involved who gets awfully jealous. The over-indulgent, in-your-face approach of Luhrmann’s is certainly a unique style, but it could have you feeling exhausted halfway thru.

The stars all sang their own parts and in some of the scenes are actually singing while doing their dancing and other actions, and all are excellent.  There’s nothing like Pierce Brosnan’s cringeworthy singing in Mama Mia.  I can see how the younger generation find this the most enjoyable musical they’ve ever seen, but I’m an old fart.  The transfer is perfect and the noisy soundtrack – with added electronics and turntablist effects – comes across in surround with full impact. I think one would have to be a rabid fan of Baz Lhurmann’s whole special world to sit thru all the bits and pieces of the extras. I did like his opening of the film – with a hard-working little conductor at the bottom of the screen leading the orchestra for the usual 20th Century Fox intro playing behind the red curtain.

 – John Sunier

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