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Moulin Rouge (Blu-ray Review)

“Welcome to a celebration of TRUTH, BEAUTY, FREEDOM, and above all things, LOVE.”  Hallelujah!  My “Holy Trinity” is now complete on Blu-ray!  Well, what I meant to say is that I could not be happier now that my favorite three films of all-time are ALL finally on the Blu-ray format.  Oh yeah, dummy me; I forgot to name the films, didn’t I?  I guess you can tell that I’m excited, huh?  Well duh!  Words can’t even describe how enraptured I was to receive this Blu-ray title for review.  Oh yeah, I almost forgot again, my three favorite films of all-time are Fight Club, The Dark Knight and finally, Moulin Rouge. And thank the Gods; I have also been blessed with the good fortune of having the privilege to review each of these three titles on the Blu-ray format (see here and here for the two first aforementioned titles) in the past few years during my tenure as a reviewer.  What more can a guy ask for?  Don’t answer that!

So here’s the deal.  I can already hear the snickering.  A guy who likes Moulin Rouge?  What is he, a fruit cup?  Come on.  Let it all out.  Let all the haters cast their stones.  Let all the people who hate the movie for what it appears, but have never even bothered to give it a watch, throw your proverbial tomatoes at me.  Are we all accounted for?  Done now?  Good.  Anyone else I missed can kindly click on a different link if they don’t have an open mind.  Good God!  That was a lot of people.  Now I can officially begin.

Okay, so what I am trying to say is that I pulled out my man card right here and I laid it upon my desk surface, next to my iMac 27” that I’m typing this review on.  You all see it (rhetorical question)?  In my opinion, Moulin Rouge is one of the most beautiful and romantic love stories to ever grace the silver screen, and it just happens to also be a musical too.  During its initial theatrical run back in 2001, I had zero interest in this film, whatsoever, but if it weren’t for my ex, I probably would have never been exposed to the glitter, glam and beauty that is the Moulin Rouge.  And quite frankly, that’s really the only kind thing I can think of when I reflect upon my ex.  Anyway, for those still with me, let’s talk about Baz Luhrmann’s Moulin Rouge.

Film  

The 2001 romantic musical was directed, produced and co-written by the visionary Baz Luhrmann. The film stars everyone’s favorite Master Jedi, Ewan McGregor, the ravishing Nicole Kidman, an uncanny performance by John Leguizamo and even a musical appearance by Kylie Minogue as The Green Fairy.   The movie was a huge financial success for Twentieth Century Fox and went on to be nominated for eight Oscars, including the coveted Best Picture.  Ultimately, it ended up only taking two home, but it was the first musical nominated for Best Picture in over 22 years.  That in itself is quite an accomplishment, if you ask me.

Luhrmann drew loosely from the Greek tragedy of Orpheus and Eurydice.  This is where it “gets smart.”  Orpheus was a musical genius whose talent trumped anyone in his respective world.  The filmmakers brilliantly replicated this within Moulin Rouge by using pop/rock songs from the late 20th century.  And if you know anything about this film, that’s obviously many decades (LOL) after the film’s 1899 setting.  By doing this, Ewan McGregor’s character (Christian) would appear to other characters as a brilliant songwriter and performer, with talent and skills light years beyond the competition, making him the true leader of the Bohemian revolution.

Moulin Rouge is set in 1899, the summer of love, within the Montmartre Quarter of Paris, France, and tells the tragic, but beautiful story of a young poet/writer, Christian (McGregor), who falls in love with the terminally-ill star of the Moulin Rouge, cabaret actress and courtesan Satine (Kidman).  Don’t worry; I’m not giving away any spoilers by telling you of Satine’s fate.  The film lets you in on what happens within the first five minutes.  If I had to put a label on it, then I would go on record by saying it’s sort of a narrative piece, so to speak.

So anyway, this Christian guy, he has a ridiculous obsession with love.  The only problem is that he has never been in love before and he incidentally breaks the number one rule, never fall in love with a woman who sells herself and is paid to make men believe what they want to believe.  However, Christian has a dubious ability to see into her true soul and despite promising herself to the Duke Monroth (Richard Roxburgh), who is financing the show (“Spectacular, Spectacular”) that will transform the Moulin Rouge from a night club to a real theatre and her into a real actress, she falls for the young writer/poet.  As you can imagine, this doesn’t bode well with the Duke once he uncovers their secret affair.  And what will happen to the fate of the Moulin Rouge, the production of the show and the terminal condition Satine is inflicted with?  All I am liberty to say is THE SHOW MUST GO ON!

Let’s talk about casting for a moment, in particular the roles of Satine and Christian.  I swear, Ewan and Nicole were born to play these roles.  Their onscreen chemistry together is the real showstopper here underneath the glistening lights and curtains of the Moulin Rouge stage.  I couldn’t imagine anyone else ever playing these roles.  That same thought goes for whenever I bring this production to Broadway one day too.  That’s an intangible dream of mine, but maybe, just maybe, I can make it come true one day.  Stranger things have happened, right?

Oh yeah, remember me talking about the inclusion of 20th century songs within this production?  Well both Ewan and Nicole carry the soundtrack with their near perfectly trained voices.  And oh yeah, I was talking about the songs.  Try this one on for size.  The “Elephant Love Medley” scene alone contains the following songs: “Love is Like Oxygen,” “Love is a Many-Splendored Thing,” “Up Where We Belong,” “Lovers Game,” “I Was Made for Lovin’ You,” “One More Night,” Pride (In the Name of Love),” “Don’t Leave Me This Way,” “Silly Love Songs,” “Heroes,” “I Will Always Love You” and “Your Song.”  You recognize any of these?  You should.  Even Gerard should (hint…hint…KISS).  And this is only one scene I am talking about here.  Did I mention that there are also renditions/performances of Madonna’s “Like a Virgin” and Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit?”  OMG!  I’m in heaven.  For a movie that spawned two separate soundtrack releases, there are just too many songs to list here.  This is, after all, a Blu-ray review.  I have an idea.  Let’s tackle the disc vitals right now because I can go on and on about my love for this flick, and I want to spare all of you from that.  You can thank me later.

Video  

Moulin Rouge makes its Blu-ray debut with a gorgeous eye-popping 1080p AVC MPEG-4 (AVC @ 20 MBPS) video transfer, presented in a 2.40:1 aspect ratio on a 50GB dual layer disc.  The feature was well worth the wait for me on the Blu-ray format.  What do I mean by that?  Well, quite honestly, I have not watched my #3 movie of all-time since 2006.  That was the fated year that I abandoned the DVD format, in favor of HD DVD and Blu-ray.  The video, like the movie itself, looks breathtaking (for the most part).  You noticed I said for the most part in parenthesis, huh?  It’s a little rough in the beginning, but a disclaimer needs to be made here.  It’s artist intent.  It’s supposed to look rough.  Don’t worry, once we get inside the Moulin Rouge, it’s “Spectacular, Spectacular!”  Upon entrance into the Rouge, things are acutely sharp, clear, crisp and detailed throughout.  The film’s set backgrounds are impeccably immaculate with intricate and exquisite artifacts adorning the walls and scenery everywhere.  And there’s also those elaborate costumes worn at the Moulin Rouge.  Needless to say, every stitch and bit of sequence can be easily seen and distinguished from the next.

Despite being blanketed by a very thin veil of cinematic grain, there are no visual blemishes or imperfections (specks, scratches, etc…) throughout the entire presentation.  The black levels are all consistently deep, the colors are as vibrant as I remember on the original DVD release and the set pieces, well they’re about as three-dimensional as they come.  There’s a bit of high contrast at times for skin tones, but nothing that will really distract you.  The use of CGI in some backgrounds is much more evident here than its DVD counterpart, but I think that’s an obvious deduction one can make and unarguably accept as truth.  The video is not perfect, but it’s the best Moulin Rouge has ever looked and I’m going to treasure this Blu-ray disc for a long time to come.  Heck, I have been sleeping with it ever since I got it last Thursday, LOL.

Audio  

This took me two viewings of the Blu-ray before I finally decided upon a score of 4.5 here.  I wanted to give it a 4, but I enjoy this feature way too much to short sell it for the fact that it’s not an action/adventure film that is going to continuously rattle and pound your surround system/speakers throughout the entire presentation.  Moulin Rouge sings and dances its way onto the Blu-ray format with a gleeful and spirited 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio surround track.  Dialogue and dramatic scenes can be very front heavy, but when the music starts, watch out!  The songs and vocal tracks seize precedence and infiltrate your surround sound system, taking it hostage as the rears buzz with excitement.  The subwoofer perfectly complements the soundtrack by bringing it to life with depth.  Watch out for that Green Fairy buzzing behind you.  Kylie will get ya!  Oh, maybe you want her to get you, huh?  Dialogue is always clear and intelligent.  No worries there.  Like the video, I can’t imagine wanting anything more from this long anticipated Blu-ray release.

Also available on the Blu-ray disc are 5.1 Dolby Digital surround tracks in Spanish, French and Portuguese.  You can also find subtitles in English, Spanish and Portuguese.  Where’s the French?  I don’t know.  Now…the Special Features!

Special Features  

I normally don’t care much about this section, but when it comes to my favorites, I tend to be a bit biased, if you can’t tell.  I’m sorry.  I’m only human.  The original DVD release, back in the day, was a 2-disc set, so you know there has to be some extras, albeit probably in standard definition.  However, the real question should probably be whether or not these are all just repackaged DVD extras or if there are any new illustrious treasures to be discovered here.  Let’s find out!  There’s a lot of ground to cover here.  Hope you can hang in there.

  • Spectacular, Spectacular Picture-in-Picture Mode with Audio Commentary (HD) – This is obviously exclusive to the Blu-ray edition of Moulin Rouge.  The audio commentary features Baz Luhrmann, Catherine Martin, Donald M. McAlpine and Craig Pearce.  The Picture-in-Picture mode showcases behind-the-scenes footage, stills and trivia across the bottom while the movie plays.  One thing I really like is how the P-I-P window is never static.  It’s always moving.  This one is a must-see for all Moulin Rouge fans.
  • Audio Commentary by Baz Luhrmann, Catherine Martin, Donald M. McAlpine and Craig Pearce (HD) – This is obviously the audio commentary only while watching the film.
  • A Creative Adventure (HD, 11:04) – Baz describes the creative forces that went on behind the scenes with Catherine Martin to create the design of Moulin Rouge.  This featurette is new for Blu-ray.
  • A Word from Baz (HD, 1:58) – This very short featurette is a quick look into Baz’s thoughts about bringing Moulin Rouge to the Blu-ray format.
  • The House of Iona (SD, 7:11) – Like George Lucas’ Skywalker Ranch, The House of Iona is Baz’s place where his creative team works their movie magic.  It’s quite interesting!
  • The Stars (SD) – Here’s a short set of featurettes that include Nicole Kidman as Satine (3:44), Ewan McGregor as Christian (3:23), John Leguizamo as Toulouse (2:31), Jim Broadbent as Zidler (2:29) and Richard Roxburgh as The Duke (2:44).
  • The Writers – There are two short featurettes here: Interview with Writers Baz Luhrmann & Craig Pearce (4:09) and Craig Pearce Reads Early Treatment (2:29).
  • The Design (SD) – Wow!  I’m not even sure if I should list everything you are going to find in here, but oh, what the hell.  Check out the following featurettes within this menu: Interview with Production Designer and Co-Costume Designer Catherine Martin (6:49), Interview with Co-Costume Designer Angus Strathie (2:22), The Evolution of the Intro (4:38), The Green Fairy (3:57), The Windmill (2:12), Christian’s Garret (2:35), The Main Hall (2:56), The Garden of Earthly Delights (3:04) and Gothic Tower (1:44).
  • The Dance (SD) – The following dances from the movie are fully restored here: Extended Can Can (4:49), Extended Tango (5:58), Extended Hindi (3:39), Extended Coup D’Etat (0:57) and Interview with Choreographer John “Cha Cha” O’Connell (6:14).  O’Connell shows us footage from the film’s first dance rehearsals.  What more can you ask for people?  Wait!  Hold that thought because there is so much more!
  • The Music (SD) – Here’s my favorite section of the Special Features.  The following music videos/sequences are contained here: The Music Journey (9:54), The Love Medley Music (4:28), Interview with Fatboy Slim (3:56), “Lady Marmalade (4:33),” “Come What May (4:15)” and “One Day I’ll Fly Away (3:57).”
  • The Cutting Room (SD) – The following two featurettes are here: Interview with Editor Jill Bilcock and Baz Luhrmann (3:46) and Director’s Previsualisations (4:40).  Film editor Jill Bilcock talks about the miles of footage that didn’t make it into the movie.
  • The Making of Moulin Rouge (SD, 25:55) – Well what do you think this about?  It’s initially a history lesson to be had as it describes the roots and origins of the real Moulin Rouge and the borrowed elements that were fused into one of my favorite love stories of all-time (sigh).  But mostly, this short documentary is filled with film clips, behind-the-scenes footage and cast interviews.  And if I might add, Nicole is looking mighty fine in these interviews.
  • From the Bazmark Vault (Mixture of SD/HD) – Most notably, we have an exclusive uncut look at the alternate opening titled the Father & Son (6:22) scene and Nicole Kidman’s First Vocal Test (1:38).  But these are only two of the titles to be found here.  There are literally too many sequences to list here.  You are just going to have to witness all of these for yourself.
  • Toulouse Tonight Web Series (SD) – The extras just never stop!  There are a slew of web extras to watch here.  Once again, there are simply to many to list in this medium.  But definitely, make sure you check these out!  And just in case you forgot, Toulouse is John Leguizamo’s character and he hosts all of these.
  • Marketing (SD) – Here you can join the bourgeoisie as you view advertising, poster concepts, theatrical trailers and TV spots.
  • BD-LIVE – “Live Lookup” powered by IMDb.

So I guess you can see, there’s a lot of stuff here to keep you busy for hours on end.  These literally took me near the better part of a day to get through them all.  Not since my 2008 Dark Knight review do I ever remember giving a Blu-ray disc this high of a score in the Special Features department.  Gregg will be so proud of me!

I do want to point something out real quick that I thought was really cool here before wrapping this up.  All of the Standard Definition material listed above is played within a special window on your HDTV screen thus giving the material a sharp looking presentation, despite its SD roots.  You will just have to see for yourself what I am talking about here.  Kudos to Baz and team for doing this!  It takes away the blurry mess that would have been seen had this footage been stretched full screen.

Final Thoughts  

In its simplest form, Moulin Rouge is an orgy of sight and sound.  It offers a kaleidoscopic ride through a world of song, dance, romance and drama.  There is enough raw energy, eccentric sets and artistic vision to warrant many repeat visits to the Rouge.  With one of the greatest love stories and musicals to ever be told on film (my opinion), a cornucopia of colors and sights to behold, songs to be sung and a multitude of special features to be discovered, the only question is why wouldn’t you make room in your Blu-ray collection for Moulin Rouge?  So I guess what I am trying to say is that hell yeah, move your mouse immediately to the link below and pre-order Moulin Rouge on Blu-ray today, choose expedited shipping and start enjoying the truth, beauty, freedom and love that is undeniably the Moulin Rouge.

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The Moulin Rouge arrives on Blu-ray October 19th.

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Pre-order your copy today!

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Owner/Writer/Reviewer/Editor, Dreamer, Producer, Agent of Love, Film Lover, Writer of Screenplays and a Devoted Apostle to all things Ford Mustangs (the real ones with V8's!). Some of my favorite films include FIGHT CLUB, MOULIN ROUGE, THE DARK KNIGHT, STAR WARS alongside television shows such as SEINFELD, 24, SANFORD & SON and even the often loathed in the geek community BIG BANG THEORY. Outside of my three lives I live I also enjoy spending time with my girlfriend and our three girls (of the furry kind).

3 Responses to “Moulin Rouge (Blu-ray Review)”


  1. Gregg

    It’s on my Netflix list!

  2. Sean Ferguson

    I’ll have to add it to mine too. This is a great movie!

  3. Brian White

    I ended up watching this film a fourth time last night while finishing up my Blu-ray review and let me tell you…there’s nothing like that scene in the Elephant where Nicole Kidman’s eyes light up Blu-ray blue when she hears Ewan belt his first notes of “Your Song.” Unbelievable moment in cinema history for me. Love it!