Blu-ray
Highly Recommended
4.5 stars
List Price
$24.99
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$11.29 (55%)
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Overall Grade
4.5 stars

(click linked text below to jump to related section of the review)

The Movie Itself
4.5 Stars
HD Video Quality
4.5 Stars
HD Audio Quality
4 Stars
Supplements
3 Stars
High-Def Extras
2 Stars
Bottom Line
Highly Recommended

Moulin Rouge!

Street Date:
October 19th, 2010
Reviewed by:
Review Date: 1
February 28th, 2011
Movie Release Year:
2001
Studio:
20th Century Fox
Length:
127 Minutes
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13
Release Country
United States

The Movie Itself: Our Reviewer's Take

"A story about love." - Christian

'Moulin Rouge!', the final installment in Baz Luhrmann's Red Curtain trilogy, a trio of films connected by filmmaking techniques and thematic ideas rather than by characters and stories, is an extravaganza. The creative team, with emphasis on "creative", delivers a marvelous display of imaginative visuals and sounds that helped revive the live-action musical genre upon its release in 2001.

Luhrmann and his co-writer Craig Pearce aren't so much concerned about the story as they are its execution, which they demonstrate in the opening scene by having the narrator Christian (Ewan McGregor), alone in a dingy Parisian apartment in 1900, reveal how it all ended tragically. The story flashes back a year to 1899 when he, against the wishes of his father, arrives in the colorful Montmartre district. Christian brings with him little more than dreams of being a writer and an idealistic view of love, which he has never personally experienced it.

But it's not entirely 1899 as viewers know it based on Luhrmann's musical choices. Christian meets up with a group of bohemian artists, led by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (John Leguizamo), who are working on a cabaret show. When the opportunity presents itself for Christian to demonstrate his musical talents, he sings out a line from 'The Sound of Music,' 60 years before the musical played Broadway, which the bohemians think is genius. He is not alone in being able to access 20th century music. At the Moulin Rogue, described as "a nightclub, dance hall, and a bordello," Zidler and his dancers, known as the Diamond Dogs, one of many David Bowie references, dance a can-can to a mash-up of Labelle's "Lady Marmalade" and Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit," which is shot and edited at a music-video pace.

Toulouse sets up a meeting between Christian and the Moulin Rouge star, the gorgeous Satine (Nicole Kidman), to pitch her their show. Zidler has arranged a second and more important meeting with The Duke of Monroth (Richard Roxburgh, who delivers a wonderfully villainous performance). In exchange for an evening spent with her, the Duke will make a sizable investment in the Moulin Rouge. Naturally, there's a mix-up and Satine confuses Christian for the Duke and becomes taken with him. This causes her great conflict because she's never been with a man who hasn’t paid her, has never experienced real love, but appreciates the value that money and security provide.

'Moulin Rouge!' is a simple, familiar story given a fresh twist. While neither the characters nor the love affair have a great deal of depth or uniqueness, Luhrmann infuses the entire endeavor with a great deal of fun and imagination, even bringing to mind director Terry Gilliam with some of his choices, like the shots of the Paris at night with the Moulin Rouge in the distance. The cast gives it their all, fully investing in and wringing out all the seriousness and humor the story offers. The artistry on display, from the Academy Award-winning Art Direction-Set Decoration led by Catherine Martin & Brigitte Broch and Academy Award-winning Costume Design by Catherine Martin & Angus Strathie, would make an exquisite coffee table book.

Most importantly, the musical numbers are engaging and fun whether original numbers like the lovers' secret song and theme from the movie, "Come What May", or covering work from popular artists, such as Paul McCartney, Elton John, and Madonna. The latter use should help bring in people to the film who have an aversion to musicals. Plus, Zidler and the Duke singing "Like A Virgin" has to be considered on any list of funniest sequences from movie musicals.

The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats

Presented by 20th Century Fox, 'Moulin Rouge!' is a 50GB Blu-ray disc accessible to Region A and B comes in a ecocase. The Green Fairy leads user right to the menu without any promotional advertisements.

The Video: Sizing Up the Picture

The video has been given a 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 encoded transfer displayed at 2.40:1 that has been approved by Luhrmann. What they get right looks outstanding and what falls short are minor quibbles that shouldn't diminish the overall experience.

The colors are phenomenal and vibrant throughout, particularly during the Moulin Rouge shows and in Satine's room. Blacks are inky and have great separation as can be seen during the first sequence in the club with so many of the men dressed in black top hats and tails. Fleshtones remain consistent even though cinematographer Donald McAlpine makes frequent use of colored light and shadows. The delineation in the latter is quite clear. There are great details on display in the costumes and sets, making clear why the work is so highly regarded.

There are some minor issues. The sharpness gets lost on occasion as the frenetic camera flies around and also during slow-mo shots, which appear as though they may have been done in post. The high definition format causes some of the digital effects to lose their believability. The outdoor scenes are obviously shot with green screen and the opening black and white footage has phony marks to give it a sense of age. When Satine sings "One Day I'll Fly Away" on the roof of her room, the grain against the blue night sky shows some minute artifacting.

The Audio: Rating the Sound

The audio is offered in a robust DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track that immerses the viewer. Of utmost importance is the music, which comes through with great power and clarity. The vocals and the dialogue are clear in the mix as they come out the front center channel. The subwoofer completes the songs, giving them oomph free of distortion. Great bass kicks can be heard during "Lady Marmalade".

The dynamic range is expansive. The evocative vocals by Christian and Satine, sung as if their lives depended on it, are as clear as the little whispers between the lovers. The sound design is playful, filled with a variety of effects at different volumes to punctuate action and humor, which are usually for cartoons. The sweeping of the windmill arm can be heard moving through the soundspace.

The Supplements: Digging Into the Good Stuff

These supplements were previously available on the DVD releases. An HD picture frame of various sizes surrounds standard definition footage.

  • Commentary
    The audio from the Spectacular, Spectacular PiP track is available on its own.
  • The Nightclub of Your Dreams - The Making of Moulin Rouge (1080i, 26 min) –
    Luhrmann, cast, and crew discuss making of the film
  • The Stars (HD, 15 min) –
    Cast members (Kidman, McGregor, Leguizamo, Broadbent, and Roxburgh) are interviewed in separate segments.
  • The Writers (HD, 6 min) –
    Luhrmann and Pearce, in separate interviews, discuss their process and read a discarded scene from early draft (4 min). Craig Pearce Reads Early Treatment (2min) doesn't actually have Pearce read anything, but he reveals ideas not used.
  • The Design (HD, 30 min) –
    The extra covers the look of the film, from sets to objects, and how they were created. Includes an Interview with Production Designer and Co-Costume Designer Catherine Martin (6 min), who has two different looks, short red and long blonde; Interview with Co-Costume Designer Angus Strathie (2 min); The Evolution of the Intro (5 min); The Green Fairy (4 min); The Windmill (2 min); Christian's Garret (3 min); The Main Hall (3 min); The Garden of Earthly Delights (3 min); and Gothic Tower (2 min).
  • The Dance (HD, 22 min) –
    Extended dance sequences for the Can Can (5 min), Tango (6 min), Hindi (4 min), and Coup D'état ( 1 min). There is also an interview with choreographer John O'Connell (6 min). .
  • The Music (HD, 31 min) –
    The Music Journey (10 min) has interviews with composer Craig Armstrong and music director Marius de Vries, The Love Medley Music (4 min), Interview with Fatboy Slim (4 min), the video for "Lady Marmalade" (5 min), "Come What May" (4 min), and "One Day I'll Fly Away" (4 min).
  • The Cutting Room (HD, 9 min) –
    A look at the editing with Luhrmann and editor Jill Bilcock (4 min) and Director's Mock Previsualizations (5 min) with time-coded footage.
  • Marketing (HD, 6 min) –
    The Theatrical Trailer and the Japanese Theatrical Trailer can be seen here well as a peek at the premiere at Cannes in Around the World with Moulin Rouge!

HD Bonus Content: Any Exclusive Goodies in There?

  • Spectacular, Spectacular (HD) –
    This Picture-in-Picture commentary with Luhrmann, Martin, McAlpine, and Pearce is an impressive, in-depth look at the creation of the film. It takes the previous DVD commentaries and matches them with work from pre-production and production. Occasionally, an icon will pop up that provides access to extras.
  • A Word From Baz (HD, 2 min) – The director talks about the wanting to enhance the film's look while keeping it authentic to the experience filmgoers had.
  • Creative Adventure (HD, 11 min) – Luhrmann and Martin talk about their work together on 'Romeo + Juliet,' 'Moulin Rogue!' and 'Australia.'
  • The House of Iona (HD picture frame, 7 min) – This is the place Luhrmann and his team work, like their own studio campus. Behind the scenes footage shows the unconventional ways the team prepare for production.
  • From the Bazmark Vault (HD picture frame, 39 min) – Footage of the team working on set and at Iona. It's impressive to see how the film was put together. The segments are Father & Son: A Look at an Alternate Opening (6 min), Early Cut of Zidler's Rap (3 min), Baz Unleashes Unbridled Lust (5 min), A Kiss, A Touch, or a Pat (2 min), Nicole & Jim Rehearse at Iona (1 min), Ewan & Nicole's First Dance (2 min), Zidler's Jig (1 min), Directing Man in the Moon (4 min), Directing "Like a Virgin" (2 min), The Duke's Happy Ending (1 min), Jealousy Tango—The Early Tests (2 min), Rehearsal Footage—Jealousy Tango (3 min), Rehearsing Ravishment ( 4 min), On-Set with Toulouse Tonight (1 min), and Nicole Kidman's First Vocal Test—"Sad Diamonds" (2 min).
  • Toulouse Tonight Web-Series (HD picture frame, 19 min) –John Leguizamo shows behind-the-scenes material on the set. They are too brief: Intro (1 min), The Can Can (2 min), The Bohos (2 min), The Duke (2 min), Christian (2 min), The Extras (2 min), Satine (2 min), The Crew (2 min), A Day with Toulouse (2 min), and The End (2 min).

Final Thoughts

Moulin Rouge! is a very enjoyable musical made by a very talented team led by director Baz Luhrmann. This isn’t your grandparents' musical and stands as one of the best of this century. For the most part, the craftsmanship on display transfers well to high definition and is well worth the upgrade for those who own the DVD. Highly recommend, even for those who don't normally like musicals.

Technical Specs

  • 50GB Blu-ray Disc
  • Region A, B

Video Resolution/Codec

  • 1080p / MPEG-4 AVC

Aspect Ratio(s)

  • 2.40:1

Audio Formats

  • English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
  • French Dolby Digital 5.1
  • Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
  • Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1

Subtitles/Captions

  • English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Danish, Finnish, Norwegian, Swedish

Supplements

  • Introduction by Baz Luhrmann
  • A Creative Adventure
  • Uncut and Unreleased Footage
  • Production Featurettes (The Stars, The Writers, The Dance, The Music, The Design, and The Cutting Room)
  • The Making of Moulin Rouge

Exclusive HD Content

  • Spectacular, Spectacular Picture-in-Picture Viewing Mode - With audio commentary by Baz Luhrmann, Catherine Martin, Donald M. McAlpine and Craig Pearce, and featuring behind-the-scenes footage and stills
  • BD-Live

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List Price
$24.99
Amazon
$11.29 (55%)
3rd Party
$4.74
Usually ships in 24 hours Buy Now»