HTF REVIEW: "Moulin Rouge" (HTF pick for BEST DVD 2001)

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Ronald Epstein, Dec 5, 2001.

  1. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator
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    [​IMG]

    Moulin Rouge

    There was a boy. A very strange enchanted boy
    It all started back in September. While out
    at Fox Studios with a group of HTF members, we
    were shown a simple clip from the supplemental
    section of the upcoming Moulin Rouge DVD.
    The clip can be located in The Dance section
    of disc 2, selection: Tango. It's the extended
    cut of the most noted number in the entire
    film. We sat and curiously watched a reworked tango
    version of The Police's "Roxanne" that was absolutely
    riveting. It starts with two people on the dance
    floor and grows feverishly into a crowd of dancers
    that ends with a crescendo of sweeping vocals.
    By the time the clip was over, everyone in the
    screening room wanted to see this film. I have
    patiently waited for the opportunity to see this film
    on DVD.
    Moulin Rouge is a modern day artistic masterpiece!
    For two hours, I sat motionless in my chair as
    if I was studying a priceless painting in a museum.
    Moulin Rouge is a reinvention of the film
    musical whose visual imagery left this reviewer
    breathless.
    At first, I didn't quite get it. Here was this
    story set in the glamorous Parisian nightclub known
    as Moulin Rouge at the turn of the century. Yet,
    we have these lavish dance numbers that are sung to
    contemporary music by Madonna, Elton John, The Police,
    and Paul McCartney. It just didn't make sense.
    Then I got it. This is a fairy tale. Why not
    take turn of the century Paris as a setting to use
    contemporary music rescored to be sung in grand
    operatic style or played to a beat never imagined
    before. The contemporary lyrics actually become
    a part of the story. The result is nothing short of
    a breathtaking musical experience.
    The story itself concerns a young poet musician
    named Christian, (Ewan McGregor) who dreams of becoming
    a famous writer. Across town is the Moulin Rouge,
    where a beautiful courtesan, Satine (Nicole Kidman)
    dreams of becoming an actress. The two meet under
    mistaken circumstances and Christian plunges into a
    passionate love affair with Satine. Their love
    affair is cut short by a jealous Duke (Richard Roxburgh)
    who will stop at nothing to buy her love.
    From the sweep of the camera through digitally
    created streets of Paris, to the lavish sets that
    recreate and reinterpret the famous nightclub, you
    are held prisoner to the film's tantalizing visionary
    style that is so clearly preserved on this DVD transfer.
    Watching Moulin Rouge is like watching a film
    from the glory days of Technicolor. Inside the club,
    there are beautiful vibrant colors that poured out from
    my screen. This transfer resides with the very best
    DVD transfers that have come from Fox Home Entertainment
    over the past year. It is a feast for the eyes.
    Presented in both English 5.1 Dolby Digital and
    5.1 DTS (as well as Spanish Dolby Surround), the audio
    sounds spectacular. Musical numbers inside the
    nightclub come powerfully across the front soundstage
    with the sound of the roaring crowd across the rears.
    There is abundant LFE response as my SV Subwoofer
    pounded with not only the dancing feet hitting the
    dancefloor but the swooping fans of the Moulin Rouge
    windmill itself.
    Upon your initial viewing, you are faced with
    options of how to watch it. By going into the
    Special Features menu, you can enable the
    Green Fairy that will appear in the corner
    of your screen many times during the movie. By
    clicking on the icon, you get branched off to
    footage that gives in-depth look at how the sets
    were built or the visuals created for the
    corresponding pieces. Fox has lead all the
    other studios in effectively putting such a feature
    to good use, as with their recent Planet Of The
    Apes DVD release.
    You may also wish to watch the film with either
    of the two audio commentary tracks featuring
    Baz Luhrmann, Catherine Martin, Don McAlpine and
    Craig Pierce.
    I would recommend, however, that your initial
    virginal watching of Moulin Rouge be without
    the aid of any of the extras so that you may properly
    immerse yourself into this movie.
    Disc Two brings us a wealth of Supplemental
    Features that begins with The Making of
    Moulin Rouge. Meet Director, co-writer and
    co-producer Baz Luhrmann who sought a cinematic
    language to tell the story of Moulin Rouge through.
    All the principle actors, including Kidman, McGregor,
    Broadbent and Roxburgh give their personal insights
    into their own respective characters. The
    documentary also focuses on the costume and set
    designers who added such remarkable authenticity to
    the time period. There are interviews with the
    choreographers as well as Fat Boy Slim. We are
    also treated to an inside look at the soundstages
    of the Fox Australia lot that house the massive
    sets used in the film. If that wasn't enough, we
    see how the model of Paris was created. It's a
    thorough look at the 360-degree world that makes
    up Moulin Rouge.
    The Stars further looks into the characters
    of Satine (Kidman), Christian (McGregor), Toulouse-
    Lautrec (Leguizamo), Zidler (Broadbent), and
    The Duke (Roxburgh) Divided into five sections,
    you can choose from any of the characters and hear
    the actor's own perspective of their role in the film.
    This Story is About takes us into the minds
    of the writers who created Moulin Rouge.
    There are three segments included here. The first
    is an interview with writers Baz Luhrmann and
    Craig Pearce who talk about writing the drafts
    of the film. We see these roommates playing off of
    each other, improvising what they had just written
    to see how effectively it comes off. The second
    segment involves Craig Pearce who reads an early
    treatment of the film. Thirdly, is a breakdown of
    script comparisons from the first rough draft in
    December 1998 right up to June 2000. Using your
    remote you can page through these early to late
    script drafts.
    The Cutting Room starts off with an interview
    with Editor Jill Bilcock and Baz Luhrmann. An older
    person with a younger outlook meets a younger person
    with an older outlook and their combined creativity
    effectively kept the structure and pace of the
    film together. Abandoned Edits contain 6
    separate montages of edits not used in the film,
    including a slower tempo version of "Zidler's Rap".
    The segment ends with Director's mock
    previsualizations which Baz Luhrmann describes
    as a dummy scenes that are used for planning reshoots.
    The Dance takes the top 6 dance sequences
    and presents them complete without the extra added
    editing that was done in the film. This is your
    opportunity to look at the sequences as originally
    filmed and enjoy them without interruption. Three
    of the sequences include MULTI-CAM features that
    using your remote, allow you to see the scenes from
    different angles. There is also an interview with
    Choreographer John O'Connell as well as a very
    interesting look at dance rehearsal footage. It's
    exciting to watch the energy of these women dancing
    in front of the onlooking crew.
    The Music is a journey through the creation
    of the music of Moulin Rouge. Traveling to
    Glaskow, we meet Score composer and arranger Craig
    Armstrong who talks about the task of providing
    a strong enough score to stand up to the strong
    visuals of the film. One of his favorite songs
    was "Nature Boy", which ultimately became the theme
    song of the film. In an Interview with Fat Boy
    Slim, the composer talks about adding electronic
    music and samples to the film adding an almost
    modern "rap" style to the film. The Lady Marmalade
    Phenomenon starts with a clip from the MTV movie
    awards. Introduced by Nicole Kidman who could not
    be in attendance, we are treated to a stage performance
    of the number by Christina Aguilerra, L'il Kim.
    Mya and Pink. It's actually a great piece that I
    am happy was included in this set. Finally, we get
    the tremendous Lady Marmalade Music Clip featuring
    Missy Elliott, that will have you cranking the volume
    on your receiver way high. You should have seen us
    boppin' to this segment while vierwing it at Fox
    studios earlier this year.
    The Design is an extremely extensive look at
    all the design elements from costumes to sets to
    graphics. With hundreds upon hundreds of still
    images at your disposal, you can use your remote to
    look at conceptual art to models to final finished
    product. Smoke and Mirrors focuses on the
    visual effects of creating the introductory Paris
    sequence as well as the Green Fairy animation done
    with blue screen.
    Marketing is all about promotion! This
    section gives us a large handful of promotional
    material used for the film, starting with the
    International Sizzle Reel that is a montage
    of all the media press that was given for the film.
    Photo Gallery gives us a view of the film
    through the cameras of four individual photographers.
    You can use your remote to sift through the many
    unique pictures taken from the set. The Little
    Red Book appears to be the story (or at least
    ideas) of the film laid out in obscure form with
    pictures and title cards. There are two trailers
    included. One is the original Theatrical Trailer
    and the other is the Japanese trailer. Included as
    well is what appears to be a promotion for another
    Baz Luhrmann project, Bed Curtain Box Set.

    Why I picked this as the year's Best.....

    Moulin Rouge moved me emotionally like
    no other film before. To use the word amazing to
    describe this movie, still underscores the significance
    of this film.
    One thing never mentioned in any of the documentaries
    is that Kidman and McGregor made a pact that they
    support each other throughout, taking risks, and be
    willing to make complete fools of themselves in front
    of each other. You can see that there was an uneasiness
    about doing something different. What they failed
    to realize is that what they accomplished was simply
    ground breaking and revolutionary in an era where film
    musicals were no longer chic.
    Enter Fox Home Entertainment. More than any other
    studio producing DVDs, Fox knows their product and
    knows how to put together exemplary DVD boxed set
    packages filled with a treasure load of material that
    enables viewers to literally orgasm themselves with
    extras that look at every possible aspect of the film.
    More importantly, the studio gives great effort
    in their video and audio transfers -- especially
    with catalog product.
    I think it fair say that Fox is the studio that
    all other studio's products are compared to. No
    other studio has put out such an abundant amount
    of Special Edition product that truly earns the
    word "Special" than Fox Home Entertainment. Every
    new "Special Edition" raises the bar on what is
    the ultimate DVD available. Moulin Rouge
    has set the new standard.
    It's upsetting to realize that there will be a
    few members of this forum who take my recommendation
    and purchase this DVD, and will be disappointed.
    The film is not everyone's cup of tea. However,
    those that do understand the artistic value of
    Moulin Rouge are going to remember this film
    forever.
    I am going to go watch it again!
     
  2. Greg Krewet

    Greg Krewet Stunt Coordinator

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    Thanks Ron. You convinced me to add this to my buy

    list. Wait a minite, Everytime you favorably review a disc, I am convinced to buy it. I was wondering if you could gather all of your reviews and store them in a single column, similar to Obi's. I especially enjoy your review of classic films( such as Cleopatra and Lawrence) that you are now catching up to many years after their

    original release as you tend to bring a fresh and unique approach to films that I am sure of a lot of us seasoned

    viewers have taken for granted. Again,Thanks.

    Best

    Greg
     
  3. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator
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    Greg,
    I am putting my own review website together.
    I am a bit ashamed. I don't consider myself
    to be a talented writer -- certainly not as
    talented with words as Robert (Obi) George is.
    I write reviews for the members of this forum.
    I think my limited experience in writing gives
    a more unique review in that my emotions don't
    get hidden by a lot of extraneous wording.
    I want to add....
    Up until today, Almost Famous - Bootleg Cut
    was all set to be the HTF BEST DVD PICK 2001.
    At the very last moment, it was overshadowed by
    Moulin Rouge.
    I want to stress that Almost Famous deserved
    to be #1 just as much as Moulin Rouge. It
    was tough picking the better of the two, but the DVD
    that won was the DVD that personally moved me the most.
    Stay tuned for that webpage of my reviews.
     
  4. Mark McLeod

    Mark McLeod Second Unit

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    Ron,

    Thanks for that great review. Moulin Rouge is all set to be my #1 film and DVD of the year. No other film has come close yet and it doesn't appear anything left in 2001 can eclipse it.

    I'm eagerly awaiting this disc. Come What May.

    M.
     
  5. Tom Oh

    Tom Oh Second Unit

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    Thanks Ron! I'm gonna go out this weekend and purchase both of your recommendations this weekend here in HK.
     
  6. Joseph Young

    Joseph Young Screenwriter

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    Very articulate and well-written review, Ron! You've convinced me to give this disc a whirl, since I never caught it in theaters.

    I agree that Almost Famous/Untitled also deserves a mention. It sounds like just as much passion went into the creation of the Moulin Rouge set. And with the inclusion of DTS we're especially happy!
     
  7. Zack Scott

    Zack Scott Stunt Coordinator

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    I so can't wait for this DVD. I was just like Ron when I saw this film in the theatre. Just Sipmly Awestruck. A goregous Rich film with an excessive use of imagination and a definate example of good CGI in film. I will be first in line to buy this on the 18th.
     
  8. Steven Simon

    Steven Simon Producer

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    This movie was truely a Masterpiece!!!!!

    I'm Crawling out of my Skin waiting for this DVD!!!!
     
  9. RicP

    RicP Screenwriter

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  10. Elbert Lee

    Elbert Lee Supporting Actor

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    I agree with your enthusiasm for this picture, Ron. I posted an earlier "first impressions" review and had the exact same emotional ride that you experienced. I do have to admit that the effect was much less dramatic on a modest 32" HT set up after watching it in the theaters. I tried it again on my main 65" system and the results were much better.

    I can see the point where some thought that much of the movie was "fluff" and even DVD File's reviewer being turned off by the digital camera work. I thought that the close ups, sweeping camera shots, and oft times ridiculous song intros didn't take away from the emotional impact of the movie. Of course, many of these "ridiculous" moments would have worked better on a stage production, but I have to give credit to Luhrman for taking risks.

    I enjoyed the DTS soundtrack. The fidelity was there, but I couldn't help but wish that there were more depth in the soundstage and more subtle use of the surrounds. I was hoping for a lot, but the mix fell short of my high hopes. (notice I avoided "expectations" as I still felt that this soundtrack was every bit as good as any newly released DVD -I just thought that this was a chance to take DTS to the next level)

    Great stocking stuffer..

    Elbert
     
  11. Tiffany A

    Tiffany A Stunt Coordinator

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    I also loved this film, although I must admit when it first began, I didn't know quite what to make of it.
    It took me about 15 minutes to realize that I was watching a BRAND-NEW genre of film and a MASTERPIECE, as well. I sat "in awe" of the beauty of the film for the remaining 1 3/4 hours. I will definately buy this DVD tomorrow!
    I also thought Almost Famous was a great film and will most likely ask Santa to bring me one! [​IMG]
     
  12. Ryan Peter

    Ryan Peter Screenwriter

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    Great review, Ron! Glad you liked the film, it really is excellent. You might want to check out another excellent musical released the year before: Dancer in the Dark. It's an entirely different take on somewhat similar subject matter. Can't wait to get this flick!!! Anyone know if Best Buy is putting a good price out for it? Otherwise I'll pick it up at Buy.com for less than $20.
     
  13. SteveGon

    SteveGon Executive Producer

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    I didn't get to see MR in the theater. You guys are really whetting my appetite for the dvd, though! [​IMG]
     
  14. Edwin Pereyra

    Edwin Pereyra Producer

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    Seth Paxton Lead Actor

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    What Edwin said. (he beat me to it)
    However, it's been running close with Memento on my list, back and forth, back and forth...
    As Ric noted, maybe FOTR has a shot at #1. Perhaps Tennenbaums or Ali. Not sure if anything else does, although Waking Life and Amelie made good runs at it.
    It's great when FOX is in charge of possibly the best film of the year because you know it's going to get done right. [​IMG]
    DTS baby!
     
  16. Patrick Sun

    Patrick Sun Moderator
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    This is one of those films that I really feel sorry for people whose first time viewing is on DVD because it was spectacular on the big screen with a fully equipped sound system. I'm definitely looking forward to adding this title to the collection. I haven't decided it's my pick for top 2001 film, still have a handful of films to go see IN THE THEATERS. [​IMG]
     
  17. Jack Gilvey

    Jack Gilvey Producer

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    I don't suppose the music video is anywhere on this, or at least some shots of Pink? [​IMG]
     
  18. Larry Sutliff

    Larry Sutliff Cinematographer

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    Excellent review, Ron! When I saw MOULIN ROUGE theatrically I thought it was the best and most original film of the year, far better than most of the summer blockbuster fare that surrounded it on release. I already pre-ordered this DVD but after reading about the transfer and the extras I'm looking forward to it even more than I was before.
     
  19. Chuck Mayer

    Chuck Mayer Lead Actor

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    I have heard the music video is on the disc.

    Thanks for the review, Ron. This has been my favorite movie of the year! I knew that it would be one incredible set; as you said, Fox is Fox. They respect the movies, and we benefit. Thanks to those who made it happen, and I can't wait for December 18th!

    Take care,

    Chuck
     
  20. DonRoeber

    DonRoeber Screenwriter

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    I still haven't seen this clarafied... are the quicktime clips from the website on the dvd? There are the Toulouse Tonight clips, which discuss the filming of the movie mostly, and the Dirt With Dubs, which discuss the screenwriting of the film.

    There are also the VR tours of the sets on the website. They didn't get brought to the DVD, did they?
     

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