Return of music to film... who knew it could be this good?

posted by Jeff | Monday, January 28, 2002, 12:19 AM | comments: 0

Stephanie and I rented Moulin Rouge this weekend. Hey, I can stand to look at Nicole Kidman for two hours in a bad movie, so why not give this one a shot?

I knew it was a musical, but after the first fifteen minutes, I was like, "What the fuck is this?" I was aware of the Lady Marmalade remake, but before too long I was hearing Elton John, The Police, Madonna, Queen and others. Once I got over the familiarity of the songs, I realized that every last borrowed lyric fit perfectly, and it was no longer distracting.

In any case, Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor actually do their own singing in this overwhelmingly visual tragic love story. The director apparently has a thing for tragic love stories, as he's the guy who did the also very stylized Romeo+Juliet. These kinds of stories have that fundamental love story we love, but also have the death that American audiences hate.

I've always been a fan of theater, and I dig musical theater in a strage way as well. Yeah, some people would say I'm a big loser because I only like the popular stuff, but fuck them, I know what I like. Moulin Rouge is musical theater captured to film. What's great about it being a film is that you've got all these other tools that you can use to create the atmosphere and feel you're looking for; bigger sets, skillful editing, closer to perfect audio and a thousand cinematic devices you can't use on the stage.

As I kind of implied, there's nothing terribly special about the story. It has been told a thousand times. What sets this one apart is the visual intensity of it, combined with the emotional intensity that music can bring about. I can see why critics would slam it, because critics are too into their "craft" to ever let themselves be drawn in emotionally to anything they're supposed to crituque.

So to conclude my rambling, I guess what I'm trying to say is that the film was pretty amazing, for reasons that I wouldn't ordinarily associate with a film.


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