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Moulin Rouge

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#1 Ed Waffle

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Posted 03 April 2002 - 01:46 PM

I saw the movie “Moulin Rouge” six times last summer. Here are few reasons why I loved it:

Nicole Kidman

Jim Broadbent

There are over fifty named cast members credited as “dancer” .

It is the only movie that features the vocal stylings of both Placido Domingo (the man in the moon) and Kylie Minogue (the Green Fairy). By the way, that is not Placebo on the soundtrack album the rules being different, apparently, for CD reproduction.

Nicole Kidman’s voice; Ewan MacGregor’s voice; they show that there is a lot more to being a successful singer than a beautiful tone. Kidman’s voice has a bottled up tone, no real chest and a very thin top. She “manages” her low notes as opposed to really singing them. Her mid-voice has a three or four note range that is pleasant. Partially due to the lack of chest voice there is no register break, so it is evenly produced throughout its range.

Her attacks are sharp and seem to be on key. Her diction is superb and she sings on the beat. Her training as an actor probably helps with all this. Occasionally her sound opens up (aided, possibly, by digital magic in post-production) and her emotional commitment to communicating through music is riveting.

MacGregor has a better instrument with a decent range and a not unpleasant reedy tone. His voice blooms in the upper mid-range and his breath support is quite good. He sounds capable to sustaining tone over a long line if necessary (it really isn’t in this score). Possibly due to his character his singing lacks the core of compassionate truth that one might wish for, although there were stretches in which he was ardent and impassioned.

Both sing with a “white” tone—very little vibrato, much more Baroque (in its present original instrument manner) than Romantic. It makes it much more difficult to sing the correct harmonies in duets, which may mean that some of the blending of their voices was done in post-production.

The scenes with audience made up of night owls in their top hats, tails, leering expressions and very sad, isolated cores.

Jim Broadbent as Madonna; Nicole Kidman as Madonna and as Madonna as Marilyn Monroe.

The scene at the end of the misdirected seduction in the Elephant, in which Broadbent, Kidman, MacGregor, John Leguizamo, (Toulouse) Jacek Korman (The Argentinian) and Mathew Whittet (Satie) “put on a show” for the Duke. It is as funny, manic, fast paced and effective as any Rossini end of the first act confusion of characters.

The idea that for musicians, singers, dancers and other artists (here including acrobats, tumblers, jugglers and magicians) getting on stage and performing is the most important thing for them—as important as breathing.

There are a lot of other things to love about this movie, and most likely, much that people do not like about it. It was a surprise hit in the U. S., grossing more than $60 million. The distributors would have been happy with half of that, since it was expected to play very well in non-U.S. markets.

My comments are based on seeing it in the theater. The VCR release is unfortunately panned and scanned. Much of what Baz Lurhmann accomplished was in the depth of field and the extreme foreground of the shots. This is lost on the panned and scanned version.

#2 Calliope


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Posted 03 April 2002 - 01:51 PM

Ed after reading your post, I feel like I need to go see it again! And it is still playing in a small number of theaters.

I enjoyed it to. From the opening credits to the end, it was loud, brash, honest, over the top and to me Jim Broadbent was unrecognizable from the actor in "Iris" which makes him even more deserving of his Oscar.

Fun, but I think it was a case of you either loved it or hated it, not many in between!

#3 Juliet


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Posted 03 April 2002 - 02:01 PM

And.....the Luhrmann production of La Boheme which he did for the Australian Opera several years ago was *wonderful*---see it and you will recognize many elements in Moulin Rouge (not least the L'Amour rooftop sign!!!)

I've heard that he is bringing La Boheme to NY.....who knows in what translation!

#4 Manhattnik


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Posted 07 April 2002 - 12:55 PM

According to what I've read, he's planning on doing La Boheme in Italian, with sub (or super) titles. Should be interesting.

Thanks for the write-up, Ed. I think I need to see if I can still catch it in a theater.

#5 Ed Waffle

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Posted 08 April 2002 - 04:57 AM

The servers are really spinning at the opera lists regarding the Luhrmann production of "La Boheme". He did a production which was updated to the 1950s at the Sydney Opera House in 1990 with a cast of young singers not chosen by him. Reviews for the productions were generally very good but less enthusiastic about the singers.

If it is like the limited San Francisco Opera run, it will be triple cast so they can do seven or eight shows per week. There are lots of rumors that the entire show will be amplified in current Broadway style.

#6 Paquita


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Posted 09 April 2002 - 12:55 PM

I loved the movie as well. Yes it was over the top and sometimes cheesy, but it was consistently so. Lurhmann took everything to extremes, and the film's visual effect would never have worked if you didn't go all the way. The sets and costumes were lavish, the colour palette was also very strong. The music takes the viewer somewhere too (80's anyone?). It's too bad Moulin Rouge wasn't nominated for best original song ("Come What May"), it seemed an obvious choice. The DVD is excellent by the way.

#7 dirac


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Posted 10 April 2002 - 01:24 PM

I have nothing against camped-up extravagant theatrical excess -- au contraire -- but it did seem to me that Moulin Rouge went Too Far. Luhrmann just doesn't know where to stop, or perhaps he doesn't want to. To maximize your effects you have to eliminate a few, or at least introduce some quieter tones here and there. Luhrmann won't surrender anything he thinks he can exploit. So there's no contrast, just everything-but-the kitchen-sink- pow-wham-bang-zowie. I thought the movie would have gained, not lost, in theatrical and cinematic power if he could have just held the camera still for awhile; if you want to revive the movie musical, as he indicated he did, cutting most of the musical numbers into tiny and finally ineffectual pieces is not the way to do it. I thought he ruined Kidman's opening number by just this method; the "Roxanne" tango number and the "Spectacular Spectacular" sequence are more successful, but Luhrmann had calmed down some by then and allowed you to see more of the performers than waving arms and kicking legs.

I feel bad about saying this, since Luhrmann is one of the few working in mainstream movies today trying to do something unusual, and I'd rather watch Moulin Rouge than, say, In the Bedroom. But I hope he cools off a little.

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