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Special Features » Movie Of The Month
"I hope you don't mind, I hope you don't mind, that I put down in words..."
As part of a monthly feature here at Nicole's Magic, each month we will be taking a look back at one
of Nicole's films or acting projects. Nicole has an immense body of work behind her, and there's no better way to be
reminded of her talent and how much we love her than immersing ourselves and taking an in depth look at those works.
For the month of May/June 2011, there's only one pick for our Movie Of The Month - Moulin Rouge.
Moulin Rouge premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in May 10 years ago (May 2001!) and took the world by storm
during it's subsequent worldwide promotion and release over the following months. Ten years later and I think it's safe
to say this movie is iconic, a classic, and a cultural phenomenon. It revived the musical, and arguably inspired a new
wave of music featured in film and television - Glee, anyone? It's hard to put into words (or song!) how meaningful this
film is for Nicole fans, and Nicole herself. It transformed her from being 'Cruise's actress (ex-)wife', showed off her
talent in ways no-one expected, catapulted her onto Hollywood's acting A-List and opened new doors for her, and introduced
her to and gained her millions of new movie fans. The passion that went into this film from all involved is echoed by the
passion shown by movie fans for it.
Satine: "I don't need you anymore! All my life you made believe I was only worth what someone would pay
for me! But Christian loves me. He loves me! He loves me, Harold. And that is worth everything! We're going away from you,
away from the Duke, away from the Moulin Rouge!"
'She sings. She dances. She dies', is what Baz Luhrmann told Nicole Kidman when he asked her to do this film, and that
sums up the film in a nutshell. The story begins with a heartbroken Christian, with a bottle in his hand and a typewriter
to hand to tell his story.
The year is 1899, the summer of love, and penniless writen Christian moves to the Montmartre region of Paris to embrace
his love of, well, love, in the Bohemian culture. It was not a "village of sin", but the "centre of the bohemian world",
where he could write about his "ridiculous obsessions with love" ... despite never having ever been in love. That was about
to change though. Soon after moving into his new apartment, a drunken Argentinian with an unfortunate case of narcolepsy
dropped in on him, and he was closely followed by a dwarf dressed as a nun. The dwarf, named Toulouse-Lautrec, explains
they are writing a play, and Christian soon finds himself filling in for the Argentinian. Seeing their creative differences
over the script and lyrics, Christian steps in, and is soon their lead writer. The next day, they present their production
to the financier - Harold Zidler of the infamous Moulin Rouge, and Christian must pretend to be a famous English poet
and perform for Satine.
The Moulin Rouge - "where the rich and powerful came to play with the young and beautiful creatures of the underworld". And
Satine, the star courtesan, the Sparkling Diamond. Christian has never seen anything like it. Toulouse-Lautrec tells
Christian he has arranged a private meeting for him and Satine after Satine's performance ... but Zidler has told
The Duke, a potential financier of the Moulin Rouge the same. Satine gives a sparkling, lively performance and surprises
Christian by taking him onto the dancefloor, mistakenly thinking his is the Duke hoping for a private meeting to arrange
financing. The Moulin Rouge falls silent when Satine falls from her swing and collapses. She is taken backstage - what has
happened to her? When she awakes, she is pulled into a costume, puts on her 'smouldering temptress' face and goes to
the Elephant Room to perform her duties with the 'Duke'...
Christian is waiting in the Elephant Room for her - with Toulouse and the bohemians watching closely from the roof -
and he tries to prepare Satine for what he is about show her. It's quite modern what he does, he tells her.
Mistakenly thinking she is meant to be making love to the 'Duke', Satine helps Christian come out of his shell by jumping
on him. She LOVES his "naughty words"!! Seeing Satine is getting slightly over-excited and his words are not getting
through to her, he decides to try another way - song. "My gift is my song ... and this one's for you".
Satine is silenced and transfixed. She takes his hand and they dance through the sky, by the Eiffel Tower and under
glittering stars and a bemused moon. "I can't believe it. I'm in love. I'm in love with a young, handsome, talented Duke",
The illusion is broken when Christian informs Satine he is just a writer. When the real Duke appears,
Satine has to go to all lengths to hide Christian who is hiding in the Elephant Room with them. When The Duke catches
Christian in there, they have to put on am impromptu rehearsal for him, and the bohemians all pile in. Zidler joins in on
it, and they all perform "Spectacular Spectacular" to a slightly overwhelmed Duke. "Generally I like it", he admitted, and
they got the financing to perform the show at the Moulin Rouge.
Satine was in love. Christian was in love. Too much in love to be able to write the play. Satine dreams of a better life,
and, atop the Elephant Room, sings about dreaming of flying away from the Moulin Rouge. Christian sees her, and surprises
her on top of the Elephant. Satine is shocked to be caught at a vulnerable moment, and is unsure of how to act around
Christian with her new-found feelings for him. She tries to remain professional, but Christian again bursts into song
about how wonderful love is. Satine retorts, saying "love is just a game", and the only way to love her is "to pay a lovely
fee". Satine playfully sings along, and the two tease each other with song lyrics. The two share a passionate kiss, and
she realises he's going to be bad for business!
"How wonderful life was, now Satine was in the world". But Zidler knows different. The Duke demanded the deeds for the
Moulin Rouge be given to him, and for a contract to be drawn up that binds Satine to him. Harold has to agree and signs.
They are now able to transform the Moulin Rouge into a theatre, and rehearsals for Spectacular Spectacular begin.
Whilst rehearsing with the bohemians, Satine and Christian grow closer, and Satine lets down her guard and falls under the
spell of LOVE. But they must work hard and be on alert for The Duke, who pops up unexpectedly to try to take Satine away
to woo her.
But the lovers are getting complacent. Whilst kidding in the Moulin Rouge, Zidler spies them just as The Duke is demanding
Zidler make Satine spend more time with him. Zidler tells Satine she must stop seeing Christian, and that she is expected
to have dinner with The Duke that night. Satine is conflicted, but knows she must help save the Moulin Rouge, but she
wants to be with Christian. She passes out again, "a force darker than jealousy, and stronger than love, had begun to take
hold of Satine". With Satine unable to attend dinner with The Duke, Zidler must once again delay The Duke from leaving.
He tells him Satine is confessing, because she wants to feel "like a virgin" when she spends opening night with The Duke.
The Duke has been won over.
Zidler is informed that Satine is dying. But the show must go on, and he doesn't want Satine to know. Christian is
becoming jealous of Satine's forced relationship with The Duke. She informs him they must stop seeing each other. He
protests, and says they'll write a song to perform in the play, and that whenever they sing it they are reminded of
each other and the power of their love. "I love you, until the end of time." It brings a smile to their faces, and they
continue their meetings.
But it's not long until The Duke finds out the truth. A jealous dancer hints that the Courtesan in the Spectacular Spectacular
play should not choose the penniless writer - oops, she means sitar player - over the Maharaja. The Duke is incensed.
Toulouse protests that the courtesan choosing the Maharaja does not fit with the bohemian ideals of the play, but the Duke
won't listen. He doesn't know why she wouldn't choose the Maharaja. Christian can't contain himself and yells back that
she doesn't love him - realising too late what he said. The Duke demands a re-write, and no lovers secret song. Satine
knows what she must do. She turns on the charm and tries to seduce the Duke, telling Zidler they can make a re-write work.
She meets up with Christian and tells him she has to sleep with The Duke. "Come what may", she whispers to a heartbroken
Christian. She then proceeds to the Gothic Tower to have dinner with The Duke.
In the Gothic Tower, The Duke gives Satine an elaborate diamond necklace, promises her security and, knowing he'll have
his way with her, says Zidler can keep his fairytale ending in the play. But he forces himself on her, and she runs, not
wanting to have to lie anymore. She goes to Christian, who tells her they will leave tonight to be together. The Duke
tells his man-servant to kill Christian, and having overheard this, Zidler tells Satine. Desperate for something real,
to enjoy love, Satine tells Zidler she is leaving. But in response Zidler, finally, tells her she is dying. Knowing she
can't let Christian go through that, and knowing she must protect him, she goes to him to announce she has decided to stay
at the Moulin Rouge and be with The Duke. She has to make him believe she doesn't love him. She has to give the performance
of a lifetime, and "hurt him to save him".
"The jealousy has driven him mad". But Toulouse reminds Christian of the power of love, and Christian decides to return
to the Moulin Rouge. The show IS going on, and has started at the Moulin Rouge. Satine arrives on stage to great applause,
and The Duke shows off a big smile, full of pride that she is his. Backstage, Christian has arrived and is trying to get
to Satine ... but is closely followed by The Duke's man-servant. The bohemians try to stop the man-servant. Christian finds
Satine, and - full of jealousy - desperately tries to get her to admit she doesn't love him. Satine is sick, and is
struggling to continue. Finding themselves on stage, he continues to beg her to tell him. Exasperated, he tells he's
paid his whore, and she's cured him of his ridiculous obsession with love. As Satine stands up, and Christian walks away,
Toulouse crashes onto stage ...
"The greatest thing you'll ever learn, is just to love and be loved in return."
... reminding both Satine and Christian of their love, she sings their song - Come What May. The lovers are reunited ...
on stage. The man-servant is still after Christian though, and when he drops his gun, The Duke picks it up, points it
at Christian and is about to pull the trigger when Zidler steps in and punches him. The gun flies out of the Moulin Rouge
and bounces off the Eiffel Tower! The lovers have been reunited, The Duke has gone, the curtain is down ... but Satine's
consumption is still there. She collapses on the stage beind the curtain, and Christian holds her. She knows she's dying,
and makes him promise he will tell their story. As she passes, the bohemians and Moulin Rouge people watch on in great
sadness. In front of the curtain however, the crowd are still cheering out of enjoyment for the play.
Months later, Christian sat down and wrote their story. A story about a time, about a place, about the people. But above
all things, a story about a love that will live forever.
"Wilting flower? Bright and bubbly? Or smoldering temptress?" Throughout the film, Satine is all 3. Bright and bubbly
transforming into a smouldering temptress whilst 'performing' at the Moulin Rouge and for clients, and then as her health
gets progressively worse, she becomes a wilting flower.
Satine is the star courtesan attraction at the Moulin Rouge club in Paris, a smouldering temptress designed to please the
men and essentially keep bringing the money in. But she wants more - her real dream is to be an actress like her idol Sarah
Bernhardt, and "fly away" from the Moulin Rouge. Satine lives in the Elephant Room, a sumptuous room next to the Moulin
Rouge, where she entertains her clients. She's used to a life of selling herself and pleasing men, and rolls out the
'smouldering temptress' routine easily. But she's taken aback when she meets Christian and he sings to her. She's breaking
the rules of the Moulin Rouge and her job - life - by falling in love, and this is the first time she has fallen in love.
To prepare for the role Nicole watched all the musicals she could get her hands on, to try to familarise her self with a
genre she previously hadn't paid that much attention to. "I looked at Marilyn Monroe, Cyd Charisse, Rita Hayworth and
they're all extraordinary," she says, adding that she gained new respect for their talents as singers and dancers.
"She is on the one hand unattainable, but extremely available," Baz says of Satine. She was written to resemble some of the
classic iconic stars of the 20th century, "a little bit like Marlene Dietrich, a little bit like Madonna, a little bit like
Marilyn," the director tells. Indeed, her opening "is supposed to resemble bits of Marlene, Marilyn, and those kinds of
stars, and there's no doubt in my mind that Nicole embodies classic movie stardom," Baz explains. Costume and production
designer Catherine Martin worked on the costumes using those same ideas. They "pull[ed] out what we felt were
characteristic of all those heroines," she says, and some costumes were nods to outfits those icons would wear, or
costumes they wore in their films. They also drew on Nicole's natural beauty in creating Satine's look - "Nicole is so
naturally glamorous, it's ridiculous not to use that because she does embody the sparkling diamond". But while much is
said about Nicole's stunning hair in the film, people are surprised to find out she's actually wearing a wig!! It's
interesting to notice that as Satine was seen as the glamourous megastar of the Moulin Rouge, Nicole found herself
becoming a superstar herself, just like her character, upon the film's release in 2001 ... much to her discomfort.
Baz Luhrmann attests to the dedication and force Nicole breathed into this performance, saying, "When Nicole won the
Golden Globe I was like "Yes!" - I knew what she went through, I knew what a test it was. I heard one of the greatest
actors in the world say, "She plays high comedy, she plays high tragedy, she sings, she dances, she pulled it off."
Satine was a completely different character to anyone Nicole had ever played before. Previously thought of as an
'ice-queen', Nicole let loose as Satine, showing off a side no-one knew she had. She played sexy, she played fun, she
played romantic, she played drama, she played tragedy. Nicole went through all the emotions with Satine and pulled it
off with such energy and aplomb. An awe-inspiring performance.
The defining scene for Nicole's character in this project - the poetry reading scene.
Satine: "This is a wonderful place for a poetry reading ... don't you think. Poetic. Enough. For you."
Satine: "A little supper, maybe some champagne?"
Christian: "I'd rather just get it over and done with."
Satine: "Oh. Very well! Then why don't you, come down here, and let's 'get it over and done with'."
Christian: "I prefer to do it standing..."
Christian: "You don't have to stand, I mean, sometimes ... it's quite long! I'd like you to be comfortable... it's
quite modern what I do! And it may feel a little strange at first, but I think if you're open then you might enjoy it!"
Satine: "I'm sure I will!"
Christian: [starts to mutter poetry] "The sky is ... very blue... "
[Satine starts panting and making noises]
[Christian continues muttering to himself]
Satine: "Um, is everything alright?"
Christian: "Uh, a little nervous, it's just sometimes it takes a while for ... inspiration to come..."
Satine: "Oh yes yes yes ... let Mummy help..."
[Satine grabs Christian's crotch]
Satine: "Does that 'inspire' you?"
[Satine throws Christian onto the bed]
Satine: "Let's make love!"
Christian: "Make love?"
Satine: "You want to, don't you?"
Christian: "Well, I ... I came to ... "
Satine: "Tell the truth, you feel the poetry..."
Satine: "Oh! Come on! Breathe it, tiger!"
[Satine squeals, pants and makes tiger noises, and rips his trousers]
Satine: [gasps] "Big boy!"
Satine: "Yes I need your poetry, now! "
[Christian pulls away from the bed]
Christian: "It's a little bit funny..."
Christian: "... this feeling inside. I'm not one of those who can easily hide... Is this ok, is this what you want?"
Satine: "Poetry? Yes, yes... yes this is what I want! Naughty words!"
Satine: "Oh! Naughty! Oh!"
Christian: "I don't have much money, but... boy if I did, I'd buy a big house ... where we both could live..."
[Satine continues shrieking, groaning and proclaiming that she loves it]
Satine: "Oh that is so good! Wonderful! "
Christian: "A sculpture... but then again no... a man who makes potions like that travelling... "
Satine: [writhing around on the floor] "Don't stop... No no no don't stop!"
Christian: "I know it's not much ... "
Satine: "Give me more! YES! YES! YES! YES! NAUGHTY! DON'T STOP! YES! "
Christian: "... but it's the best I can do ... "
Christian: [sings] "My gift is my song .... and this one's for you..."
[Satine stops, sits up, and stares...]
Baz Luhrmann: ""What I wanted at the heart of it was magnificent actors who could use their song to
tell the story."
Like those working inside the Moulin Rouge, Moulin Rouge's cast is made up of an international team of actors and
actresses! Baz stayed true to his roots by using several Australian actors in the film, including Richard Roxburgh as
The Duke. Carrying the film and taking us on Christian's journey into adulthood was Scottish actor Ewan McGregor. Known
for a risky and varied career, Ewan is probably best known for his role in the cult classic Trainspotting, and
has also been seen in more Hollywood fare such as Angels & Demons, Down With Love, and Star Wars. He's
worked with Nicole's good friends Naomi Watts and Renee Zellweger twice each. Nicole and Ewan struck up a strong friendship
and professional relationship, knowing they would need to stick together to be able to give the best performances
possible - "It was great to work with him. Straight away we had a tacit agreement that we'd support each other throughout,
taking risks, and be willing to make complete fools of ourselves in front of each other. The great thing about working
on Moulin Rouge is that people are saying, 'Let's try something different' and we've connected wholeheartedly to it -
that's what made this project so fulfilling." Like Nicole, Ewan showed off a singing voice that no-one knew he had,
and it bought him new fans, including his leading lady - "Every time Ewan sings I'm more in love with him," Nicole
swoons! Ewan won several awards for his performance as Christian, and was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for
Best Actor in a Motion Picture Musical or Comedy. Ewan has since said he'd love to do another musical with Nicole ...
let's keep our fingers crossed!
Playing the larger-than-life Moulin Rouge owner, Harold Zidler, is British actor Jim Broadbent. With an extensive career
in British film and television behind him, 2001 was a highly successful year for Broadbent - not only starring in this
musical and winning a BAFTA for Best Supporting Actor for it, and taking home the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for his
role in a slightly different type of film from the same year, Iris. He has recently been seen in the Harry Potter
movies, the two Bridget Jones movies, and Hot Fuzz. He won an Emmy in 2001 for The Gathering Storm.
American-Colombian actor John Leguizamo plays the loveable bohemian dwarf Toulouse-Lautrec. Toulouse-Lautrec gets Christian
involved in their play in the movie, and plays a pivotal role in the end of the movie, reminding Christian what the greatest
thing in the world is - love. Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec was in fact a real person, and was a French painter and artist
who lived during the latter half of the 1800's. Leguizamo has been steadily busy in the year since Moulin Rouge,
recently being seen in The Lincoln Lawyer and TV's ER ... and being heard in the Ice Age movies.
Rounding out the main cast is Richard Roxburgh as The Duke. Hailing from Down Under, Roxburgh has worked in several
Australia stage, film and tv productions, including his breakout role in tv series Blue Murder. Interestingly,
he starred in Mission: Impossible II, which filmed in Sydney around the same time as Moulin Rouge, and
of course starred Nic's then-husband. His most recent film release was 2010's Sanctum. Roxburgh won the
Australian Film Institute for Best Actor in a Supporting Role for his role as the wicked Duke.
Interesting cast notes: Audrey, the writer who was replaced by Christian, was played by Aussie actor David Wenham, who later
starred in Australia as Neil Fletcher; Natalie Mendoza who played the China Doll auditioned for the role of Satine;
and Jacek Koman who played the narcoleptic Argentinian was also recruited for Australia, playing Ivan.
Casting and Filming
Nicole Kidman: "I loved making 'Moulin Rouge.' It was kind of like giving birth to a baby, it was a
really hard film to make, Baz (director Baz Luhrmann) and Ewan and (everyone) worked so hard on it. That was a role that
I know I will never get again. I am just appreciative that it is a part of my body of work. And to do a musical that
seemed to be so bold in what we were going to try and do."
Moulin Rouge, as you can imagine, took a long time to develop. Director Baz Luhrmann said he first got inspiration
for something like this when he and wife Catherine Martin went to see a Bollywood movie in India. He wondered whether this
would work as a musical in the western culture. His plan then became to make Romeo + Juliet, and then do a musical.
Baz had a clear vision for the film, and stated that his "singular mission has been to find a way of making the musical
cinema work again for this time and this place." "As a kid I loved musicals and that idea that you saw an artificial film
that made you FEEL, the fact that all of the audience was involved in the story. To a certain extent, Strictly Ballroom
and Romeo + Juliet ARE musicals, so we've just taken a final leap, really, towards a breakout in songs in movie in the
use of musicals to tell a story," he says.
Several actors, actresses, and even musicians were auditioned and considered for the film before Nicole and Ewan McGregor
were finalised. Renee Zellweger, Sharleen Spiteri, Sophie Ellis-Bextor and even Courtney Love tried out for Satine, and
Hugh Jackman, Jake Gyllenhaal and the late Heath Ledger auditioned for Christian. Baz went to see Nicole on Broadway in
The Blue Room, and sent her some red roses and a note telling her about the role. Unsurprisingly, Nicole said that
typically if she was approached with a musical she'd say no, but when she found out Baz Luhrmann, who had previously
directed Romeo + Juliet and Strictly Ballroom, was making it, she thought it would be interesting. "His whole idea was
to take the genre and re-invent it". She was also excited to go back to Australia and work with some of the same crew
she'd worked with when she was 15. And her then-husband was also working in Sydney at the time, so they were able to make
it work for their family. Extensive auditions and workshops were held during the casting process. Baz auditioned
Nicole with several actors, but wanted to see what she was like with Ewan McGregor - there were obviously sparks, and they
were cast as Satine and Christian. "When I got the role, I was absolutely floored and so excited because it meant being
able to do something so unusual," Nicole says.
Filming began in late 1999, and completed in May 2000, and was filmed solely at the Fox Studios in Sydney. A surprisingly
short filming time? "Baz is fast – he wants to shoot a lot and get a lot," Nicole explains. Filming was halted when Nicole
broke two ribs and her knee when filming a dance scene early on. The show must go on though, and Nicole healed well enough
to continue filming. "She's got that spirit I think her parents gave her, to pick yourself up and try again -- that
old-fashioned, hold-your-chin-high kind of thing," her director praised her for.
One of the many challenges Nicole faced in this film was the singing, something she had never done on screen before.
The cast were required to sing a lot of the songs live, because Baz believed it would maintain the intensity
of the scene - something which Nicole found embarrassing in front of 600 extras! But once she got into character, put on
her costume, she was ok and lost her inhibitions. She adds that "it’s hard when you’re crying and singing and trying to
stay in the right key and the right timing without accompaniment." Baz's intensive pre-production process helped with
challenges like this though: "What's so brilliant about Baz, is that he pushes you early on in the piece, so by the time
you start to film you're so comfortable with what you're doing that you're ready to try anything." Nicole was also surprised
by the power of the song, and how it be used to express emotions sometimes words can't, saying "I think in some ways love
can be expressed through music in ways that it can't in other genres." Once inside the recording studio Nicole was
surprised to find that you can approach singing the same way you can acting, by exploring and finding ways to use your
voice in different ways. Every note you hear them sing in the film was their real voices, and Fred Baron, a music producer
on the film, was "knocked out" by Nicole's voice.
"There were times when Ewan and I doubted him [Baz]," Nicole admits, "We'd think, there's no way he's going to make this
high comedy work with tragedy. But you do it because you want to be in something that's a risk." Nicole clearly relished
this once in a lifetime experience, and said that "it was really one of those very unusual, but creative, and really
satisfying, experiences." She even enjoyed the intense rehearsals - "It was like drama school all over again, because
we had singing class and dance class. Then we'd have a coffee break and we'd be off doing improvisational stuff. We also
lived in this big house and it was drama school all over again." Nicole smiles when she says it's a "very different"
kind of movie-making experience working with Baz Luhrmann! Ewan McGregor describes the final result as a "feast for the
So what does Nicole think of the Moulin Rouge club? "It's still a very exciting notion to be able to go to a club where
you can loose your identity, get lost and live out your fantasies, and that's what the Moulin Rouge was."
Release & Reception
Moulin Rouge had a full-on, intense promotional tour starting in May 2001. The tour was kicked off with a premiere
in New York, in which Nicole looked stunning and almost gothic in a white dress and smoky make-up. The cast and crew then
flew to Cannes to present their film on opening night, posing for the press in the beautiful town in the South of France
and walking the famous red carpet up to the Palais des Festivals. Appearances followed in Los Angeles, Sydney, Melbourne,
London, Berlin and Tokyo. The promotional appearances for the film ended with an AMPAS Screening of the film in LA in
November 2001. As well as all of those public appearances, Nicole was 2001's favourite cover girl, appearing on various
editions of Marie Claire, Harper's Bazaar, Elle, Good Housekeeping, Vogue, Esquire, Interview, Vanity Fair and In Style.
The massive promotional tour for the film was important, because it was not a film that people would readily consider
going to see, Nicole explained. The most impressive thing about the promotion, was that it started just months after the
breakdown of Nicole's marriage and the news of her miscarriage. Nicole admits she is painfully shy, so to be undertaking
such a massive tour by herself for the first time, and at a time of such turmoil in her life, must've been something she
would've wanted to avoid. But she found the strength to do it, saying "I could have said, 'I'm not doing any press for
this film. See ya later. I'm not coming out until I am completely healed'. But I don't know if that will ever happen.
It's been awful, but I will move forward day by day. I'm dealing with this, and I find I'm stronger than I thought."
Nicole was not alone during the tour though, as her sister Antonia joined her, with the twosome walking the red carpet
at Cannes together holding hands. The grace and dignity with which Nicole conducted herself during the promotion, is
nothing short of inspirational. Baz Luhrmann has said that the film is about growing up, and making that transition into
adulthood, and that was certainly something Nicole could relate to when taking part in the promotional tour for the
film - "I've said so much over the last five months of me has been about growing up - in terms of having to learn to
deal with a lot."
While Nicole's popularity soared, the film itself received very mixed reviews - which was to be expected, as those involved
knew it wasn't something that would match everyone's tastes. Baz Luhrmann explains the course of the reception of this
film perfectly, speaking in 2001 about his films: "It would not open in a spectacular way, and then it would go around
the globe, gather momentum, and eventually it would take on this very committed audience. The audience would discover
it." Moulin Rouge is fast moving, brightly coloured and greatly over the top, meaning it's not for everyone.
Baz acknowledges the strife you can go through to get your movie seen, but notes that he did not go out there and ask
people to vote for the film at the big awards events, but he just wanted to get as many people to see it as
The Washington Post
praised the movie for being a spectacle: "It's a wonderful postmodern hug of a movie, and never once
do you not know you're watching a movie. But that's the point: Not to lose yourself in the movie, but to be brightly
aware of your participation as a viewer. In Luhrmann's vision, that's what the movies are about."
FilmThreat.com think Baz suceeded in his aim to
re-invigorate the musical genre and produce something new, saying "Musicals are already a hard sell in this cynical day
and age, let alone one that dares to take the genre to even greater escapist extremes. But it’s that very quality that
will win the film its share of admirers, and rightfully so. As with any experiment, certain choices along the way in
“Moulin Rouge!” simply fail, but what counts is the end product–and what ultimately comes through is an undeniably
imaginative work that is a glorious testament to the limitless and largely untapped possibilities of cinema." And several
reviewers praised Nicole's commitment to the role, something the
BBC said of which,
"...it’s Kidman who steals the movie with a devastating display of sultry allure. Watching her commit herself body
and soul to Luhrmann’s bizarre vision makes it easy to overlook the film’s structural deficiencies and its tendency to
sacrifice emotional resonance for stylistic bombast." But with the good comes the bad, and some didn't appreciate the
over stylistic movie and criticised it for choosing visuals over story.
Variety's review thought that
"the love story never truly takes on a life of its own that rouses viewer emotion and becomes moving in its own right.
Tale is so clearly a synthetic recycling of "La Boheme" elements that the characters remain constructs, exaggerated
caricatures that are vibrant yet bloodless."
Made for an estimated $52m, Moulin Rouge made $13m on it's wide opening in the US, over £2m on opening weekend in
the UK, and a total of $57m in the US. It's foreign gross was double that, at $121m. The film made an impressive $179m
worldwide. It was the 22nd highest grossing film worldwide in 2001.
The hype around the film made it a big contender for the Oscars, and received 8 nominations in total, including Nicole's
first ever nomination for Best Actress! While Baz was disappointed he was not acknowledged in the Best Director category,
he admits he cried when Nicole received her nomination! There was some out-cry when the one original song in the film -
Come What May - was not nominated for Original Song, but it was revealed that the song was actually originally written for
Romeo & Juliet. On the big night itself, Nic graced the red carpet in a feminine pale pink Chanel dress with an
impressive set of Bulgari diamonds (that she helped to design) round her neck - much like Satine's! Antonia again
accompanied her sister on her big night. Nicole lost out on Best Actress to Halle Berry, but Moulin Rouge took
home the awards for Best Art Direction-Set Decoration and Best Costume Design. Nic was awarded with the Golden Globe award
for Best Actress, Comedy or Musical, and Moulin Rouge was named Best Motion Picture, Musical or Comedy. The film,
and Nicole, received numerous other nominations during the 2001-2 awards season.
We all know Moulin Rouge is one of those films you either love or hate, but despite that, it's hard to deny its
lasting effect and legacy, and has since become a classic film of our time, with Satine and Christian often being cited as
one of the great romances seen in film history.
Melanie - She sings, she dances, and well, unfortunately, she dies, but that is just part of this amazing love
story. Honestly, I don’t know where to begin to explain my love for this movie. Nicole was amazing. I mean, she always
is, but this performance was, by far, one of her best, hands down. Not only was her acting superb, but Nicole showed
us a side that we had never really seen before; her singing and dancing side. From what we saw, it seemed as if she
pulled it off effortlessly, but we know that is far from the truth. Many hours, days, and months were put into that
performance and it definitely paid off in the end. Ewan McGregor was just as good. The onscreen chemistry between
him and Nicole was amazing and it really brought the whole story to life. The movie itself was just all around
amazing. Between the actors, the music, costumes, etc, it doesn’t get much better than that. One of the best
movies of all time.
Alyssa - A beast, a creature, some living thing that now breathes and sleeps and lives in the underbelly of
those hopeless romantics who will listen, Moulin Rouge! is a film that requires the same interaction as you and
I - patience, love, imagination, and the occasional argument. It is a film that has dragged me into this
clandestine underworld that it so vividly speaks of, a world that wreaks of a darkness that surges life into your
veins. Though I've yet to return, if ever, I'm comforted with the knowledge that I will still be heard, be felt
by those hopeless romantics - the only ones who will listen.
Anna - Honestly, this movie has just got to be Nicole's best performance yet! I really think she deserved the
nomination for the Oscars that year. She was just very natural and fabulously superb! There's not enough words to
describe how much I love this movie. I will truly always love it. It's such an old tale about star-crossed lovers
-- modernized into a musical of comics. It's really funny, hilarious, dramatic, tragic, adventurous, and sad. It's
a complete hit with every element in it's plate and that's why I think it worked! The chemistry between Ewan and
Nicole was very visible. They are just too believable to be Satine & Christian. It's a testament of love, for
all of us who believes that the greatest thing you'll ever learn, is just to love, and be loved in return.
Jime - [I love Moulin Rouge because...] it's passionate.
Vanessa - I love Moulin Rouge for so many reasons. It's just a real genius and my favourite kind of movie.
I love the story, characters and music so much. Simply toucjing, passionate and amazing!
Carla - Nicole is absolutely stunning in this film, once more her acting is flawless as McGregor is equally
charismatic and heartbreaking. It is a magnificent musical that makes me experience all type of emotions, from
laughter to sorrow. The movie takes musicals to a level never before experienced and the songs and choreography are
beyond amazing. This spectacular production cannot fail to impress, especially if you believe in freedom, beauty,
truth, and above all, love. Moulin Rouge, electric Cannes opener.
Watch ... and then re-watch ... your favourite scenes, plus find some DVD extras and interviews.
View the Movie Of The Month Archives
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