MOULIN ROUGE is a celebration of truth, beauty, freedom, but above all things, love — set in the infamous, gaudy and glamorous Paris nightclub, circa 1900. Director Baz Luhrmann (STRICTLY BALLROOM, WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE'S ROMEO + JULIET) brings together gorgeous period design and modem-era pop tunes to create a unique comic/tragic motion picture experience. Nicole Kidman portrays Satine, the Sparkling Diamond, star of the Moulin Rouge and the city's most famous courtesan. Satine is caught between the love of a young writer and another man's obsession. Ewan McGregor is the writer, Christian, who finds himself plunged into this decadent world where anything goes — except falling in love.
Luhrmann captures his euphorically high-style vision of a tragic-comical, glamorous underworld through a very contemporary lens. The result recreates for today's audiences, the heady, decadent thrills that enthralled patrons of the Moulin Rouge a century ago.
The story of MOULIN ROUGE stems from the Orphean myth of a young poet-musician who descended to the underworld in search of ideal love. "It's a myth about idealism and adulthood, and the recognition that life throws up things beyond our control: the death of loved ones, relationships that don't last," Luhrmann explains. "According to the Orphean myth, this will either destroy you, or you'll go into the underworld, face it and return having grown from the experience." MOULIN ROUGE's Orphean hero is Ewan McGregor's Christian, whose love affair with the courtesan Satine ends in tragedy.
In MOULIN ROUGE, the Orphean myth is central to what Luhrmann calls a "Red Curtain" theatrical style, which he has employed in each of his three films.
Luhrmann explains: "We take a simple story based on a recognizable primary myth and set it in a heightened, created world that is at once exotic yet also recognizable. STRICTLY BALLROOM was set in world of ballroom dancing, and WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE'S
ROMEO + JULIET in the heightened world of Verona Beach. In our third film it's the underworld of the Moulin Rouge in 1899.
"Most cinematic naturalism puts the audience into a dream state so that they may observe reality, if you like, through a key hole. Whereas we employ a constant device that awakens the audience and reminds them that at all times they are watching a film, in which they are impelled to participate. This constant reminder in STRICTLY BALLROOM is the use of dance; in WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE'S ROMEO + JULIET it is the four hundred-year-old language of Shakespeare. In MOULIN ROUGE, our contract with the audience, our device to awaken is the experience of music, or simply put, song. Yes, MOULIN ROUGE is fundamentally a musical, perhaps an opera, but finally a story told through song."
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