film review

Review | Moulin Rouge – 2001

15 years after the release of the musical film Moulin Rouge, the film is converted to an actual stage musical! When we can admire the romantic drama on stage is still unknown, but this news is reason enough to re-watch Baz Luhrmann’s 2001 film.

It’s the end of the 19th century when young British writer Christian perches in Paris, Montmartre. Here he meets the French painter Toulouse-Lautrec who makes him acquainted with the bohemian lifestyle. Toulouse and his comrades are doing a play and see in Christian the perfect replacement of their author. The play will be staged at Harold Zidler’s nightclub the Moulin Rouge, where he has created a world of theater, music and cancan. The night Christian is about to convince courtesan Satine – the most famous dancer of the Moulin Rouge – the strength of their play, he falls in love with her. This is the beginning of a romance that is doomed to fail due to the presence of the rich Duke.


Moulin Rouge is a musical film with a lovely setting, music, characters and story. Talking about the music, there’s only written one original song for the film. The other songs are all operations on several classic songs like Elton John’s Your Song. The songs are all very well developed and beautifully sung by the protagonists. David Bearwald wrote the only original song Come What May, and won a Golden Globe for his work. In addition, the film won two Oscars: for costume and setting. Moulin Rouge was also nominated several times. The film is directed and written by Baz Luhrmann, who also worked on Romeo + Juliet and The Great Gatsby. The two main roles are played by Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor, who play their parts very memorable. Kidman plays Satine, a prostitute who actually wants more in life and finds that in McGregor’s Christian character. Christian is a writer who believes of all things in love, and sees in Satine his true love. She however is promised to the Duke.

The Duke is played by Richard Roxburgh, who plays his character in a way that no one will ever like him. He’s the rich investor of the Moulin Rouge, so that the nightclub can be turned into a theater for the play. The Duke has put his sights on Satine, therefore she had to keep her affair with Christian a secret. The boss of the Moulin Rouge is Harold Zidler, played by Jim Broadbent. Zidler is an amazing character who wants the best for his theater and helps Satine several times. One example is when he sings Madonna’s Like a Virgin. Several songs are sung, but besides one all are classics. Numbers are interwoven to get the story beautifully reflected. The scene where Satine and Christian are in the ‘Elephant’ is the best and finest example of multiple interwoven songs.


It is difficult to discuss only a few good moments from the film, as the entire film is fantastic. The setting, music, the costumes, the dancing, the characters. All parts fit well with each other. An amazing scene where all these aspects come together, is when the Argentine (Jacek Koman) tells Christian how stupid it is to fall in love with a prostitute. Everyone from the Moulin Rouge is together since they wait for Satine and the Duke, who are dining at the same time, tell how the story will end. The scene culminates in a dramatic Argentine tango to the music of The Police: Roxanne. The film is primarily a drama, but because of the presence of Broadbent’s character Harold Zidler, there are also moments for a laugh. The complete appearance of Zidler almost make him a caricature, though there is a moment during the song The Show Must Go On, even Zidler helps increase the level of drama.

There is actually nothing bad to say about this film. Moulin Rouge is a beautiful film in which the romance between the two protagonists is doomed from the beginning. The setting, music, costumes,  dances, the characters. Everything is well put together and there is never a dull moment. Sometimes there is even place for some laughter, but overall, it is a heavy drama film from the start. And you’ll probably know how the film will end after you’ve seen the first minute. For those who want to see a good end in stead of the dramatic ending, you might want to stop the film a few minutes earlier. Then you’ll end with the best and the only original song of the movie: Come What May. And now let’s wait for the stage version!


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