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Moulin Rouge!

No laws. No limits. One rule. Never fall in love. 

Year: 2001 
Running Time:
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 (Scope) 
Certificate: BBFC 12A Cert – Under 12s admitted only with an adult 
Subtitles: This film is expected to have certain elements which are subtitled, but it is not expected that the entire film will contain them. 
Directed by Baz Luhrmann 
Starring: Ewan McGregor, Nicole Kidman, Jim Broadbent, Richard Roxburgh  
An image from Moulin Rouge!

Idealistic young writer Christian (McGregor) moves to Paris with dreams of joining the bohemian revolution and discovering true love. It is not long before he finds himself in the company of like-minded dramatists, writing a musical to capture their radical ethos of truth, beauty, freedom and love. But penniless playwrights need a venue, and so Christian is coaxed into convincing showgirl beauty Satine (Kidman) that his poetic flourishes are worthy of taking the stage in her boss Harry Zidler’s (Broadbent) windmill nightclub, the Moulin Rouge. Following a successful pitch to financier and general creep ‘the Duke’ (Roxburgh), Christian and Satine realise they share a passion for more than just artistic expression… But their affair must be kept secret from the Duke, who naïvely believes that Satine is his escort exclusively, lest the production be shut down. Will love overcome all obstacles, or will the lovers’ dreams be crushed? Come what may, the show must go on!

The closing act in Luhrmann’s Red Curtain Trilogy, Moulin Rouge! profits from the director’s development of his distinctive flair and high production values that are characteristic of predecessor Romeo + Juliet. Eccentric and pompous, this movie indulges in elaborate set pieces, lavish cinematography, and operatic musical numbers that craft a wonderfully unique hyper-cinema experience. The soundtrack is a marvel in itself, taking popular songs of recent decades and adding contemporary twists to reflect the film’s revolutionary principals and provide it with a suitably glorious score.

McGregor and Kidman are perfect as the tortured lovers, conveying an unexpected chemistry that transcends fairytale fancy in favour of a convincing romance. The musical-within-a-musical itself is a delightfully ironic mirror of the lovers’ affair, with reality and theatrics converging in a climactic finale that brings the film’s closing curtain down in style.

Truly spectacular, spectacular.

Owen Rye


In a shabby apartment in nineteenth century Paris, a group of revolutionary artists are desperately trying to write the lyrics for their new play, Spectacular! Spectacular! They shout suggestions at each other, while our hero, Christian - who has been forced into lederhosen for purposes of atmosphere - looks on bemusedly. He listens for a moment, then tries to make a suggestion of his own. Nobody listens. He takes a deep breath, and sings: "The hills are alive with the sound of music!"

The story of Moulin Rouge! is almost mythic in its simplicity, and has already been used in a novel, an opera and another film. Christian falls in love with Satine (Nicole Kidman), a showgirl-courtesan, who is supposed to be carrying on an affair with the duke of Monroth (Richard Roxburgh) in order to keep her employer in business.

What a plot summary misses are the arcical, wildly funny episodes as everybody contrives to keep Chrisian and Satine's affair a secret from the duke - one of which culminates in Harold Zidler (Jim Broadbent) singing an outrageously campy version of 'Like A Virgin' - and the intensely romance, but never sentimental, feeling that saturates the film from beginning to end.

It is also impossible to describe the vast musical numbers that frequently punctuate the film, astounding, epic swathes of song and dance that are utterly breathtaking. That the film borrows already-familiar pieces such as 'Smells Like Teen Spirit', 'Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend' and 'Your Song' is one factor in making the film even more immediate; just as Luhrmann's version of Romeo and Juliet was in-your-face modern, so is Moulin Rouge!

After a summer stuffed with predictable blockbusters, audiences were desperate for an original film, and Moulin Rouge! did justifiably huge business. Baz Luhrmann has created a rare treat of a film, one that makes you excited about cinema again.

Alexandra Schulman

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Screenings of this film:

2001/2002 Spring Term (35mm)
2001/2002 Spring Term (35mm)
2001/2002 Spring Term (35mm)
2002/2003 Autumn Term (35mm)
2002/2003 Autumn Term (35mm)
2009/2010 Spring Term (35mm)
2009/2010 Spring Term (35mm)
2023/2024 Autumn Term (35mm)