27 April 2001
A star courtesan with a secret yearning for true love, a young writer who's truly ahead of his time, and the real and imagined characters who populated Paris' most infamous dance hall, circa 1899: It's all part of writer-director BAZ LUHRMANN's unconventional new song-and-dance film, 'Moulin Rouge.'
Like Luhrmann's last film, the 1996 hit 'William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet,' this long-anticipated drama-musical is set in a world far from our own, a world in which modern pop culture and past history blend together. Using the real Moulin Rouge nightclub as its backdrop, the story is set during the "Belle Epoque," a cultural highpoint in the history of Paris, that spanned the late 1800s and early 1900s.
Luhrmann lures us into the story of Satine, (Nicole Kidman), the most famous courtesan in the City of Lights and the star of the Moulin Rouge stage. When a young writer and poet named Christian (EWAN McGREGOR), leaves behind his bourgeois upbringing for Paris' Montmartre district, he becomes part of the club's bohemian, sex and drug-fueled underworld. Mingling with such period historical figures as the artist Toulouse-Lautrec (as played by JOHN LEGUIZAMO), Christian falls into a passionate but doomed affair with Satine as the society around him braces for changes and the 20th century.
After trips to Paris to research the topic, the Australia-based Luhrmann and his production-costume designer (and wife), CATHERINE MARTIN, painstakingly recreated turn-of-the-last-century Paris on a Sydney soundstage. The film also incorporates fully choreographed dance numbers -- some to the tune of rock songs that hadn't even been written yet in 1899 -- and marks Kidman's vocal debut.
Luhrmann explains about his unusual and anachronistic filmmaking style: "We [use] universally familiar myths. In 'Moulin Rouge,' it's the Orphean myth: a myth about idealism and adulthood and the recognition that life throws [out] things beyond our control: the death of loved ones, relationships that don't last. According to the Orphean myth, this will either destroy you or you'll face it and come out having grown. Next, we take this recognizable myth and set it in a heightened, created world far away ... that is at once familiar yet exotic."
Sounds exotic enough for us! See for yourself in 'Moulin Rouge.'