Moulin Rouge! (Blu-ray)
The first time I saw MOULIN ROUGE!, I wasn’t sure I liked it. To be fair, I wasn’t even sure what I had just witnessed and it left me dazzled and a little confused. The film moves by at such a lightning pace, the musical numbers are usually a hodgepodge of familiar songs and director Baz Luhrmann created his own reality which thrusts the audience into this crazy world with no pause to explain what’s happening. To put it mildly, Luhrmann’s MOULIN ROUGE! takes the old war tactic of “shock and awe” to the big screen, which is exactly what he does to the audience.
However, the movie has now become one of my favorite films, moving to the top of my “re-watchability” list and even after several viewings, I still love this movie. The glitz and glamour that was overwhelming on the first viewing is now a pleasure to watch and the songs that seemed “off” are now a staple on my iPod. There are numerous reasons why MOULIN ROUGE! is a breathtaking film, but the number one reason is that it’s incredibly original. Luhrmann never got enough credit for how great a job he did with this film, but crafting a film of this magnitude and adding a creative twist to virtually every aspect of a film is a remarkable feat. And doing it all while your actors are singing makes it even more impressive.
Credit has to also be given to Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor. Before the film was released, I don’t think anyone was excited about hearing Kidman and McGregor sing. Of course, before this, actors singing was more of a punch-line in the vein of Bruce Willis or Eddie Murphy in the 80’s. But Kidman and McGregor nail their songs and gain instant musical credibility in their opening numbers. Everyone has their favorite songs from the film, but McGregor belting out ‘Roxanne’ was the highlight for me, conveying a remarkable sense of pain and emotion.
That’s another feather in Luhrmann’s hat; his ability to create this fantastic world through music and still have depth within his characters. It doesn’t take long for the audience to fall in love with Satine and Christian. And the inevitable heartbreak that will come from their courtship is written on the wall, but it hits us hard nonetheless. It’s also something that a singer-turned-actor could not pull off, but an actor that happens to be singing can pull off beautifully.
If it has been a while since you’ve seen MOULIN ROUGE!, or if you’ve only seen it once and didn’t like it, I highly recommend picking up this Blu-ray. The film deserves a second viewing and after the initial shock and awe, it should become one of your favorites. The film has never looked better and the film is a must for any library.
Video (2.40:1 Widescreen): Beautifully transferred and even though there is a lot of black in the film, it still looks crisp and clean.
Audio (5.1 DTS-HD): Sounds excellent in both dialogue and song.
Commentary in Picture-in-Picture mode with Baz Luhrmann, Catherine Martin, Donald M. McAlpine and Craig Pierce: The main players here are Luhrmann and Martin and they have tons to say about their film. It’s a very entertaining commentary and was just as fun to listen to as watching the movie. Not a ton of technical stuff mostly talking about storyline and creative aspects.
A Creative Adventure (11:04): This is how Baz Luhrmann and Catherine Martin started working together on his films. It’s a bit of a mix of all their films to date and before they started making films. It was interesting to watch but I would watch the commentary for more in depth information on MOULIN ROUGE!.
The House of Iona (7:11): The House of Iona is to Baz Luhrmann what Skywalker Ranch is to George Lucas. This is a short featurette about all the creative departments in The House of Iona which is an old theater redesigned for Luhrmann. There are some behind the scenes choreography and sets from the film but overall it’s a bunch of random clips thrown together. Honestly, at times it’s nauseating to watch because it’s jumpy and fast and scratchy, but it is chock full of good information.
Introduction from Baz Luhrmann (1:58):This is just a short bit from Mr. Luhrmann about how much work went into the transfer of this Blu-ray and how much he hopes we like it.
Uncut Footage from the Bazmark Vault (37:07): Includes an alternate opening musical sequence to Cat Stevens Father and Son, which was cut at the artists discretion. The rest of the footage is good and worth watching if you just can’t get enough CanCan.
Production Featurettes and Inteviews: The Stars, The Writers, The Design, The Dance, The Music and The Cutting Room, Toulouse Tonight Web Series and Marketing (2:16:40): These are broken down into multiple segments and feature cast, crew and writer interviews. These are all like mini-featurettes, about a lot of little details. If you have a lot of time to select things on your BD player, this is the section for you. The best part of this section is the extended cancan and tango numbers. The Lady Marmalade music video can also be seen in The Music section.
The Making of MOULIN ROUGE! (25:55):This was one of the best making of featurettes I have ever seen. Although as per format it is full of film clips, it is mixed in with cast and crew interviews in such a way that it’s like watching a completely new film. This is what you should show someone who is skeptical of watching the whole movie, this will convince them.