April 1, 2023

Moulin Rouge – Baz Luhrman’s take on 19th century Paris is a scream

Moulin rouge was released in 2001! How have I left it so long to revisit an instant classic of high tempo kitsch? Luhrmann has said that his initial inspiration came from watching a Bollywood movie and wanting to recreate the buzz and atmosphere in a Western musical. It was a big ask, but he managed to pull it off.

Because we can can can!

Following the tale of a young English writer who falls for a Montmartre courtesan, Moulin Rouge is a bright, festive romp through old classic pop songs, the Can Can, with lashing of farce thrown in to keep us entertained. And entertained we are, royally for the whole 127 minutes. Being a Jukebox musical it uses songs that the audience were already aware of, from Queen to Elton John and many more. The plot has been influenced by La boheme, La Traviata and Orpheus in the Underworld and manages to mix all three with a joie de vivre all of its own. With actors like Jim Broadbent supporting the two charismatic stars this is an epic musical that helped put musicals back on the movie-going map. In a way we have it to thank for future films such as Mamma Mia…

It is not every film-maker that could successfully pull off such an OTT film. Ken Russell at his peak maybe, but Baz Luhrmann has really created something that harks back to the old days of Hollywood film making, albeit with the fast cuts and camera angles of the music video. It was a huge risk, but the studios backed him and they were rewarded with Oscar nominations galore. It took guts, but they got glory!
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