We all remember our firsts. Our first kiss, our first car and even our first life-changing movie.
I remember exactly where I was when I saw my first life-changing movie. I was six years old and it was Baz Luhrmann’s iconic 2001 film, Moulin Rouge! Starring the stunning Nicole Kidman (in my opinion at her best) and the dashingly handsome Ewan McGregor. For the first time in my short life, I was spellbound by the magic of the movies. I was mesmerized by the lavish musical numbers, the blinding glamour and the love story. It had everything that a movie should have. A little bit of Old Hollywood in modern day cinema. I was pretty lucky, it was there and then that I knew I wanted to be involved in the magical world of movie-making and I haven’t looked back since. It has entrenched itself in my life so completely and is my biggest passion. I have this incredible movie to thank for that.
Moulin Rouge! is about the ultimately doomed love story between Christian, a young poet living in Paris in 1899 and Satine, the star of the Moulin Rouge. Satine dreams of becoming a real actress and Christian and the group of bohemian performers he befriends write her a show called ‘Spectacular, Spectacular’, to be performed at the Moulin Rouge. The Duke of Monroth, played by Richard Roxburgh agrees to fund the show in exchange for Satine. A dark and dangerous love triangle begins as Christian and Satine fight to stay together. But a force more deadly than the Duke threatens to tear them apart.
It is set to an incredible soundtrack filled with cover versions of iconic songs ranging from artists such as Queen to Nat King Cole. The only original song, ‘Come What May’ was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Original Song but was ineligible for an Academy Award nomination as it was originally written for Luhrmann’s previous film, Romeo + Juliet.
Production began in Sydney in November 1999 and went for 7 months. Kidman went to great lengths for her role, she broke a rib bone fitting into her too tight corset and smashed her knee while dancing in heels for the song ‘Sparkling Diamonds’. Luhrmann later remarked that the scene where Satine looks into the camera and proclaims that she will be a real actress was actually filmed with Kidman sitting in a wheelchair.
Moulin Rouge! was released in May 2001 to mixed reviews and eight Academy Award nominations. Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian remarked that the film was “…too fast for its own good.” While the legendary film critic Roger Ebert compared it to “…being stuck in an elevator with a circus.” I totally agree. There is a sense of manic-ness to Moulin Rouge! Every one of your senses is completely indulged at all times. It moves so fast that you need to watch it again and again to make complete sense of it.
Baz Luhrmann has created some of the best movies of the past three decades. Every single one of them has left a lasting effect on the Australian film industry and the level of cinema that we can create here. But none of them can compare to Moulin Rouge! Everyone that has watched it, has a strong feeling towards it. It evokes emotions that used to only exist in Old Hollywood movies and I love it. I rewatch it at least once a year. This movie never fails to remind me why I love this industry so much. It’s pure escapism and if you love Old Hollywood as much as I do, I can guarantee you will love it too.