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

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#1 of 224 OFFLINE   Ronald Epstein

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Posted December 05 2001 - 04:01 PM

Posted Image

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


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

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

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

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

, the composer talks about adding electronic

music and samples to the film adding an almost

modern "rap" style to the film. The Lady Marmalade

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


I am going to go watch it again!


Ronald J Epstein
Home Theater Forum co-owner


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#2 of 224 OFFLINE   Greg Krewet

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Posted December 05 2001 - 04:21 PM

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 of 224 OFFLINE   Ronald Epstein

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Posted December 05 2001 - 04:37 PM

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.


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Home Theater Forum co-owner


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#4 of 224 OFFLINE   Mark McLeod

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Posted December 05 2001 - 04:45 PM

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.
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#5 of 224 OFFLINE   Tom Oh

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Posted December 05 2001 - 04:45 PM

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

#6 of 224 OFFLINE   Joseph Young

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Posted December 05 2001 - 05:04 PM

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 of 224 OFFLINE   Zack Scott

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Posted December 05 2001 - 05:05 PM

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 of 224 OFFLINE   Steven Simon

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Posted December 05 2001 - 05:06 PM

This movie was truely a Masterpiece!!!!! I'm Crawling out of my Skin waiting for this DVD!!!!
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#9 of 224 OFFLINE   RicP



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Posted December 05 2001 - 05:32 PM


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


WOW!! I must have missed that option on the disc!! Posted Image

I picked this disc up yesterday and I will echo everything you said.

When I saw this film earlier this year I picked it as my Best Film of 2001. Only LOTR remains to knock it from the top spot. This film was incredible.


If you think the DVD is great (and it is!) you should have seen this film on the BIG screen at the Zeigfeld Theater in Manhattan...absolutely breathtaking!!

#10 of 224 OFFLINE   Elbert Lee

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Posted December 05 2001 - 05:49 PM

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 of 224 OFFLINE   Tiffany A

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Posted December 05 2001 - 08:19 PM

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! Posted Image

#12 of 224 OFFLINE   Ryan Peter

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Posted December 05 2001 - 08:27 PM

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.
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#13 of 224 OFFLINE   SteveGon


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Posted December 05 2001 - 09:02 PM

I didn't get to see MR in the theater. You guys are really whetting my appetite for the dvd, though! Posted Image

#14 of 224 OFFLINE   Edwin Pereyra

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Posted December 05 2001 - 10:02 PM

"Best Film Of The Year!" Posted Image
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#15 of 224 OFFLINE   Seth Paxton

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Posted December 06 2001 - 03:24 AM

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. Posted Image

DTS baby!

#16 of 224 OFFLINE   Patrick Sun

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Posted December 06 2001 - 04:43 AM

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. Posted Image
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#17 of 224 OFFLINE   Jack Gilvey

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Posted December 06 2001 - 04:47 AM

I don't suppose the music video is anywhere on this, or at least some shots of Pink? Posted Image
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#18 of 224 OFFLINE   Larry Sutliff

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Posted December 06 2001 - 06:26 AM

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 of 224 OFFLINE   Chuck Mayer

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Posted December 06 2001 - 06:33 AM

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
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#20 of 224 OFFLINE   DonRoeber



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Posted December 06 2001 - 06:40 AM

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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