Watched 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.
Just 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!