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DCA Archive

Moulin Rouge!

Baz Luhrman

To celebrate DCA’s 20th anniversary, we asked you to tell us which films from 1999–2019 you wanted to see back on the big screen. This time, enjoy Baz Luhrmann’s spectacular musical romance, a huge pop culture sensation back in 2001. Let us know what you’d like to see next, sharing your ideas with the hashtag #helloDCA20.

Baz Luhrmann is a director whose name is synonymous with a certain style, and here very nearly out-Luhrmanns himself with a film which whisks us back to Paris at the turn of the 20th century, a world of glamorously decadent excess illuminated by newly-developed electrical lights, where penniless bohemians rub shoulders with high class dignitaries and the fashionably wealthy.

"A film which whisks us back to Paris at the turn of the 20th century, a world of glamorously decadent excess..." 

A very youthful-looking Ewan McGregor stars as Christian, the hopelessly romantic writer whose path fatefully crosses with the impossibly alluring, unavailable Satine, played by an Oscar-nominated Nicole Kidman. He is earnest and idealistic; she is sultry, aloof and, crucially, a dancer and courtesan at the world-famous Moulin Rouge nightclub. Christian instantly falls for her, but little does he know that becoming romantically involved with Satine comes with its own set of difficulties – foremost of which is a wicked Duke (Richard Roxburgh) who lusts after her. Christian works with a troupe of performers and artists led by the famous Toulouse-Lautrec (John Leguizamo) – a real life historical figure who frequented and designed posters for the real Moulin Rouge.

But that is perhaps as close as this film gets to realism – this is an unabashed fantasy, an elaborate spectacle with lavish sets, glitzy costumes and an entire jukebox’s worth of chart-topping pop songs, all reimagined and spliced together into an all-singing, all-dancing extravaganza and brought to life with an exuberance which borders ever so slightly on over-the-top.