Red Windmill!

moulin1Watched Moulin Rouge! yesterday for the first time in a few years. Extraordinary film. As subtle as getting slapped in the face with a wet kipper. Its the kind of film that the term ‘Pure Cinema’ was coined for, a veritable feast of the senses, bold, loud, incredible. I love it, its one of my favourite films- up in the Top 20 infact. I just can’t believe I left it so long between viewings – indeed, although I bought the Blu-ray a few years ago, I may not have watched it; I have suspicions that my last viewing of this wonderful film was on DVD.

Shocking! Hang my head in shame. Another shocking fact: this film was nominated for Best Picture at the 2002 Academy Awards but lost to Ron Howard’s A Beautiful  Mind. Another case of Oscar getting it wrong.  Yet another shocking fact- the film was released way back in 2001. It can’t possibly really be that old, can it?

It certainly comes even more alive in HD. It looks almost beyond gorgeous on a great-featured disc. You can tell it comes from the peak of the Blu-ray format (are we in a decline?) as its got a remarkable PiP feature commentary that branches off to seperate featurettes during the film. Its absolutely fascinating, and is something of a depth that we don’t find on new releases. Studios don’t seem to think it’s worth the expense (like the three-hour plus Dangerous Days doc on the Blade Runner set, it’s a case of the film coming out at just the right time as they wouldn’t get that same treatment now). Yeah, if ever we needed proof of Blu-ray as a declining format then it’s in the special editions we have now being nowhere near as special as the format’s younger days.

moulin2Just look at that. Gorgeous. Beyond the visuals though the energy of the performances is almost exhausting to watch. No doubt much of that is from the tight (some might suggest frenzied) editing, but I wonder how they filmed this film, maintaining the incredible energy level that runs throughout? Its full to bursting with such energy and exuberance. Its strange to think scenes were filmed across days or weeks and they would shoot some bits in a morning, some mid-afternoon, and yet it all comes together with such an intense level of excitement. Its so larger than life. Its a 1950s Technicolour musical fantasy merged with an 1980s pop video, ultra-modern and yet with such old-fashioned  melodrama. Its quite like no other film I can remember; sure there are better musicals out there but nothing quite as intoxicating as Moulin Rouge!

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3 thoughts on “Red Windmill!

  1. It is amazing it’s so ‘old’ now. I still feel like every other modern movie musical exists in its shadow. (I really need to make time to revisit it too — I definitely haven’t since DVD. This is exactly what my rewatchathon is supposed to be for!)

    re: the state of Blu-ray, I kinda wish studios would just abandon their back catalogues altogether… that is, provided they continue to licence out to Eureka / Arrow / Criterion / Powerhouse / etc. I do wonder if it’s heading that way, as increasingly smaller labels seem to be allowed access to higher-profile films. I doubt they’ll be let loose on the Casablancas of film history anytime soon, but as physical media becomes of less and less interest to the studios, who knows? All it needs is every studio to allow it — I think it’s Warner who refuse to licence anything? Shame.

  2. It is ironic that older catalogue titles licensed out to Arrow etc get some kind of special release- biggest release this year for me will be their edition of The Thing- while new releases, even blockbusters like Marvel films and even the new Star Wars series, fail to get really special editions. Studios don’t feel the need to make any major effort.

    In their defense, it seems most people just want to watch the films and couldnt give a damn about special features, so stream films online rather than buy them on disc. Its a deplorable situation for film lovers like me- though even I have to admit I struggle to listen to audio commentaries etc. At least they are there though for me to catch up with someday.

    1. I suppose at least with new films there’s only so much you can say — interviewees are only going to spout the company line about how great everything was, and all the making-of featurettes are the essentially the same, because it’s all CGI and it’s all made the same way. It’s makes me see why some people swear by commentaries — in theory, two hours of the director/etc talking about their thought processes — but I rarely find the time for them either.

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