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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 - 11:01 AM

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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!

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 - 11:21 AM

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 - 11:37 AM

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.

Ronald J Epstein
Home Theater Forum co-owner

 

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#4 of 224 OFFLINE   Mark McLeod

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Posted December 05 2001 - 11:45 AM

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.
Mark McLeod
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#5 of 224 OFFLINE   Tom Oh

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Posted December 05 2001 - 11:45 AM

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 - 12:04 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 - 12:05 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 - 12:06 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 - 12:32 PM

Quote:
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.

Ron:
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 - 12:49 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 - 03:19 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 - 03:27 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 - 04:02 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 - 05:02 PM

"Best Film Of The Year!" Posted Image


DVD Unwind: Paradise Now (Coming) • King Kong - - • KeaneThe Squid And The WhaleA History Of ViolenceHarry Potter and the Goblet of FireThe Best Of Youth (Italy) • Good Night And Good LuckHowl's Moving CastleWalk The Line - - • ZathuraNorth Country

#15 of 224 OFFLINE   Seth Paxton

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Posted December 05 2001 - 10:24 PM

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 05 2001 - 11:43 PM

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 05 2001 - 11:47 PM

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 - 01:26 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 - 01:33 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 - 01:40 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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