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Moulin Rouge!
cast: Ewan McGregor, Nicole Kidman, John Leguizamo, Jim Broadbent and Richard Roxburgh

director: Baz Luhrmann

122 minutes (15) 2001
widescreen ratio 2.35:1
20th Century Fox DVD Region 2 retail

RATING: 10/10
reviewed by Ellen Cheshire
The year is 1900, the setting Paris. Christian (McGregor), a young Englishman newly arrived in Paris to pursue his dream of being a poet, becomes embroiled with Toulouse-Lautrec's (Leguizamo) madcap scheme to create a bohemian revolutionary musical for presentation at the world famous Moulin Rouge, run by the larger than life Zidler (Broadbent).
   Christian is inveigled into posing as a famous English writer in an attempt to impress Zidler's leading lady, Satine (Kidman). Unfortunately she herself was due to impress a famous (and rich) English count (Roxburgh), in an attempt to get him to fund the conversion of the Moulin Rouge from a den of vice and debauchery to a legitimate theatre, thereby transforming herself from courtesan and nightclub entertainer to a 'real' actress.
   Confusing the two English gents, Satine finds herself in Christian's arms and falling in love. Tragedy, farce, romance and a lot of singing and dancing follow in this spectacular musical for the 21st century. The plot is pretty straightforward, you know from the outset that Christian's and Satine's affair is doomed so there are no surprises there - just how you're going to travel the journey from Christian's hopeful arrival in Paris to the broken man we first see´┐Ż and the journey? Well, from the opening frame of theatrical red velvet curtain being drawn, to the closing credits, Moulin Rouge! is a feast for the eyes and the soul - it is pure cinematic heaven.
   Each moment is one to behold and cherish, there is so much of everything and yet it is still not enough. The characters tumble between high camp, tragedy and farce and yet still manage to move. Once you've engaged with the film's premise that people break into classic songs to express emotions, you'll soon be accepting that in this world it is possible for Jim Broadbent to 'seduce' Richard Roxburgh by singing Madonna's 'Like a Virgin'. Or for a young poet in the 1900s to get a writing gig by coming up with the immortal lines 'The hills are alive with the sound of music...'
   Ewan MacGregor and Nicole Kidman are both excellent singers and carry off their complex musical numbers with great panache considering that they are very classy actors as well. I can't do justice to the vibrancy and lushness of this film with mere words - I need songs, a singing moon, Parisian rooftops and a green fairy... See this film now and all will make sense. Of course, there are those that are going hate it and not be able to engage with the theatricality of it all but ultimately the world would be a poorer place without this film.
   And as for the DVD: Disc One features two audio commentaries (one with Baz Luhrmann, Catherine Martin and the cinematographer, the second with Luhrmann and screenwriter) as well as a Behind The Red Curtain feature which allows you at eight specific points throughout the film to branch out to see how they were put together. Disc Two features so much stuff that you will need to put aside at least four hours to get through it all. These extras include a making of (the film) featurette... interviews with the key five leads actors and key crew including the director, production and costume designers, screenwriter, musical director and composer, six abandoned scenes, dance numbers from various alternative angles, music videos, a making of (the soundtrack) featurette a design gallery of visual effects, trailers, promos, stills and poster gallery and news coverage. There are also rumoured to be 'Easter Eggs' on the DVD - any clues would be appreciated!

PS: If you couldn't tell, I rather like this film - so much so I bought the CD, the book, the poster, the T-shirt and, of course, the DVD which you can also buy as a box set with Luhrmann's previous film Romeo + Juliet.

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