John Huston’s “Moulin Rouge” Region B BFI Blu-Ray

3 Stars

Hello, Gang. I just got this Region B dual format edition of John Huston’s “Moulin Rouge” today from the UK.

It’s produced by the BFI, so there’s lots of fun extras, commentary and a booklet.

How does it look, you ask? Well, according to the little white letters that appear before the feature, this is a 4k scan from the original negative funded by the Film Foundation and supervised by Grover Crisp.

I’ve used my entire supply of adjectives for 2019, so let me just say

1) I haven’t watched the whole film yet, just the first few scenes, but what I’ve seen has a clarity and beauty I haven’t seen in this film before, or in many others, for that manner.

OK. I just talked to the adjective police, and they allotted me three words: limpid, lovely, glowing.

For the first rime in my memory, the smoke in the Moulin Rouge seems lighter than air, and forms around Ms. Gabor’s features into an aura, translucent, as she sings. (Yes, “translucent” is indeed an adjective, but I couldn’t help myself.)

It’s possible the rest of the film will look dreadful, but I doubt it. This disc is so lovely I wanted to let the people who are Region Free–and if you’re not, why not?–know about this right away.

2) Though it’s a very different film with very different lighting and production design, the Blu-Ray that this disc of “Moulin Rouge” reminds me of the most, in terms of its clarity and purity, is “A Matter of Life and Death,”

3) Need I say that thanks to this impeccable master, this is a much greater film than I heretofore thought? It’s possible this film looked just as stunning in theaters in1952 when it was brand new, but considering I was only a year old at the time, I don’t think I would have appreciated it.

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  1. lark144

    Hello, Gang. I just got this Region B dual format edition of John Huston's "Moulin Rouge" today from the UK.

    It's produced by the BFI, so there's lots of fun extras, commentary and a booklet.

    How does it look, you ask? Well, according to the little white letters that appear before the feature, this is a 4k scan from the original negative funded by the Film Foundation and supervised by Grover Crisp.

    I've used my entire supply of adjectives for 2019, so let me just say

    1) I haven't watched the whole film yet, just the first few scenes, but what I've seen has a clarity and beauty I haven't seen in this film before, or in many others, for that manner.

    OK. I just talked to the adjective police, and they allotted me three words: limpid, lovely, glowing.

    For the first rime in my memory, the smoke in the Moulin Rouge seems lighter than air, and forms around Ms. Gabor's features into an aura, translucent, as she sings. (Yes, "translucent" is indeed an adjective, but I couldn't help myself.)

    It's possible the rest of the film will look dreadful, but I doubt it. This disc is so lovely I wanted to let the people who are Region Free–and if you're not, why not?–know about this right away.

    2) Though it's a very different film with very different lighting and production design, the Blu-Ray that this disc of "Moulin Rouge" reminds me of the most, in terms of its clarity and purity, is "A Matter of Life and Death,"

    3) Need I say that thanks to this impeccable master, this is a much greater film than I heretofore thought? It's possible this film looked just as stunning in theaters in1952 when it was brand new, but considering I was only a year old at the time, I don't think I would have appreciated it.

    I got mine the other day, but, haven't watch it yet as my pile of un-watched discs keeps growing.

  2. I don’t understand how people can budget hundreds or thousands of dollars a year for discs, but absolutely refuse to set aside $100 for a region free player that would allow them access to the films they want from around the world, often faster and cheaper than their eventual U.S. releases, if they’re released in the U.S. at all. Just boggles the mind.

  3. I posted as below in the John Huston thread but this film certainly deserves a thread of its own.

    Douglas R

    I've waited a long time for a good presentation of MOULIN ROUGE (1952) and the recent Film Foundation restoration is now available on the BFI label in the UK. I previously had the Spanish Blu-ray which apparently is the same master as the French version but the picture quality – especially the color – of this BFI disc is vastly better.

    I became a fan of the film many years ago when it used to have regular showings on TV in black and white days – which of course defeated much of the point of the film. Although the life of Toulouse-Lautrec is too fictionalised, there are many great moments in the film, especially the dazzling scenes set in the Moulin Rouge itself. John Huston didn't want the usual Technicolor look so he used a fog filter for much of the film in order to tone down the vibrant color.

    A special word of praise for the audio commentary which is given by legendary script supervisor Angela Allen who worked on MOUL:IN ROUGE and many other of Huston's films. Although now 90, her recall of the details of making the film and her general reminiscences are wonderful. Neither does she hold back on giving her opinions on actors and directors she worked with (she was not a fan of Marilyn Monroe!).

  4. Josh Steinberg

    I don’t understand how people can budget hundreds or thousands of dollars a year for discs, but absolutely refuse to set aside $100 for a region free player that would allow them access to the films they want from around the world, often faster and cheaper than their eventual U.S. releases, if they’re released in the U.S. at all. Just boggles the mind.

    Well, you stated something that I wanted to say, but I didn't because I'm trying to dial back such posts that might be consider a criticism by a moderator.

  5. Robert Crawford

    Well, you stated something that I wanted to say, but I didn't because I'm trying to dial back such posts that might be consider a criticism by a moderator.

    I didn’t mean it to sound quite so harsh; I just think it’s a reasonably low cost of entry to open up such a vast world of treasures from Region B. They’re getting so much good stuff over there and it’s such a small investment to be able to have access to it.

  6. Josh Steinberg

    I didn’t mean it to sound quite so harsh; I just think it’s a reasonably low cost of entry to open up such a vast world of treasures from Region B. They’re getting so much good stuff over there and it’s such a small investment to be able to have access to it.

    It didn't sound harsh. You didn't criticize anyone; you said only that you didn't understand it . . . . and you are not alone in that.

  7. Josh Steinberg

    I didn’t mean it to sound quite so harsh; I just think it’s a reasonably low cost of entry to open up such a vast world of treasures from Region B. They’re getting so much good stuff over there and it’s such a small investment to be able to have access to it.

    It wasn't harsh at all. You were simply stating the obvious, which sometimes needs to be done!

  8. Josh Steinberg

    I don’t understand how people can budget hundreds or thousands of dollars a year for discs, but absolutely refuse to set aside $100 for a region free player that would allow them access to the films they want from around the world, often faster and cheaper than their eventual U.S. releases, if they’re released in the U.S. at all. Just boggles the mind.

    Well, some keep on rationalizing this, yet continue to complain that a given import title is region B locked. I don't get it, either. My two region-free players, both 3-D capable, totaled approx. $380.

  9. Josh Steinberg

    I didn’t mean it to sound quite so harsh; I just think it’s a reasonably low cost of entry to open up such a vast world of treasures from Region B. They’re getting so much good stuff over there and it’s such a small investment to be able to have access to it.

    Your post wasn’t harsh. I was talking more about why l’m trying not to make posts which can be misconstrued as criticism.

  10. ABaglivi

    I have the Spanish Blu ray of Moulin Rouge issued by Vertice. It is a pressed disc, licensed from ITV, and plays in Region A.

    The Spanish disc is nowhere near as good as the new one from BFI and isn’t from the latest restoration.

  11. I have now compared the Spanish pressed disc with the BFI. While the BFI is very cleaned up, the Spanish disc better represents the IB prints I know. Ceneric's work often tends to cooler desaturated color. The sound is also fuller on the Spanish disc as it has not gone through the "Chace porcess."

  12. I read in John Huston's autobiography (I think that's where I read it, I can't check as I'm not at home) about the efforts they went to, to get a "look". They wanted it to look as flat as possible (I'd think the can-can scenes at the club), & used a lot of smoke & fog filters to flatten out the image, so I suppose it has to be viewed with that in mind. I'd like to know what Robert Harris thinks of the new restoration.

  13. battlebeast

    If that’s the case, then it probably won’t be released. Correct me if I’m wrong, but MGM has a spotty track record on releasing classics.

    Not on their own, but MGM licenses to Criterion, Shout! Factory, Kino Lorber, and Arrow. Seems like a perfect title for Criterion to release.

  14. Josh Steinberg

    I don’t understand how people can budget hundreds or thousands of dollars a year for discs, but absolutely refuse to set aside $100 for a region free player that would allow them access to the films they want from around the world, often faster and cheaper than their eventual U.S. releases, if they’re released in the U.S. at all. Just boggles the mind.

    One reason I shy away from non-region-A disks is that I have had enough experience with buying DVD's and LD's from abroad that were not as good as the eventual US product. It seems wiser to wait and have a choice.

  15. rsmithjr

    One reason I shy away from non-region-A disks is that I have had enough experience with buying DVD's and LD's from abroad that were not as good as the eventual US product. It seems wiser to wait and have a choice.

    That's another reason to read though people's opinions in this forum. It works both ways as several European discs are superior to the US product: Cover Girl being a good example.

  16. Robin9

    That's another reason to read though people's opinions in this forum. It works both ways as several European discs are superior to the US product: Cover Girl being a good example.

    Also the BFI disc of THE KNACK (not perfect but much superior to the Kino disc), the Arrow disc of THE FURY, the German discs of FACE TO FACE & DOCTOR TERROR'S HOUSE OF HORRORS (which is beyond exquisite) the French disc of MADAME DE…, the new UK disc of KIND HEARTS AND CORONETS. I could go on, but I won't.

    In terms of this current BFI disc of MOULIN ROUGE, since it was a UK production, the original elements are in the UK and belong to Romulus, not MGM, which has only US rights and their DVD is based on a print. Now it's possible that someone with big pockets like Criterion could negotiate with both MGM and Romulus to give this 4k restoration a US release, but that might take years, and why wait?

    The other day I was walking past a new, fancy poster gallery on Broadway and noticed they had what they claimed was an "original" of Toulouse-Lautrec's Moulin Rouge poster, with the thin man in a stovepipe hat in silhouette, and I was amazed how close John Huston & DP Oswald Morris came to capturing that look on film.

  17. No comparison intended, just a note that anyone who loves 'Moulin Rouge' would also love the wonderful French movie 'French Cancan' directed by Jean Renoir and starring Jean Gabin. It explodes with vitality. It was made just three years after 'Moulin Rouge' and is a wonderful complement to that movie. Complement, not compliment!
    Mine is a Region 2 Gaumont Blu Ray from France, which has English subtltles.
    The other great companion piece is found on the old "Warner Night at the Movies' DVD of 'The Maltese Falcon' as a supplement .. it's a 1942 short feature 'The Gay Parisian' directed by Jean Negulesco and a cast of The Ballet Russe Monte Carlo including Leonard Massine, and there's even an uncredited Cyd Charisse in there for those with sharp eyes.It has a great Can Can sequence.
    You must search out the DVD. It's on the Blu ray as well as an extra feature but the transfer has been botched and it's virtually unviewable.

  18. USA rights to the movie are with MGM.
    As a bit of history, Moulin Rouge was in the MGM package of MGM films sold to Australian TV in the late 1950s and I saw the first Telecast. It was indeed a Romulus/Remus film. Of course, Jose Ferrer did the Sigmund Romberg biopix for MGM in this period.

  19. Josh Steinberg

    I don’t understand how people can budget hundreds or thousands of dollars a year for discs, but absolutely refuse to set aside $100 for a region free player that would allow them access to the films they want from around the world, often faster and cheaper than their eventual U.S. releases, if they’re released in the U.S. at all. Just boggles the mind.

    Let me explain my history on this issue.

    1. I used to buy Japanese LD's. I discovered that inevitably US versions became available that were of higher quality.
    2. I bought an all-region DVD player, and subsequently bought a number of DVD's. I discovered that the quality was often poor, and that better versions came along that were region free or region 1.

    Overall, I decided that this approach wasn't worth the effort.

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