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The Night Club of Your Dreams: The Making of 'Moulin Rouge' (2001)

Documentary about the making of Baz Luhrmann's musical, Moulin Rouge.


Thomas C. Grane


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Baz Luhrmann ... Himself - Director
Nicole Kidman ... Herself / Satine
Craig Pearce Craig Pearce ... Himself - Writer
Ewan McGregor ... Himself / Christian
John Leguizamo ... Himself / Toulouse-Lautec
Jim Broadbent ... Himself / Harold Zidler
Richard Roxburgh ... Himself / The Duke
Catherine Martin ... Herself - Production & Costume Design
Brigitte Broch Brigitte Broch ... Herself - Set Decorator
Angus Strathie ... Himself - Costume Designer
Caroline O'Connor Caroline O'Connor ... Herself / Nini Legs-in-the-Air
John O'Connell John O'Connell ... Himself - Choreographer
Marius De Vries ... Himself - Musical Director
Fatboy Slim ... Himself - Songwriter
Beck ... Himself - Musician


This made-for-tv documentary treats romance fans to a behind-the-scenes look at the making of Moulin Rouge!, Baz Luhrmann's musical tale of love between a poet and a courtesan in fin-de-siecle Paris. Includes interviews with director Luhrmann, stars Ewan McGregor and Nicole Kidman and the rest of the the cast and crew of the film, who all share their experiences from working on the project, as well as discuss the special efforts that went into bringing it to completion. Written by Jean-Marc Rocher <rocher@fiberbit.net>

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References Strictly Ballroom (1992) See more »

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Another making-of documentary that is barely about the making of.
28 January 2005 | by Anonymous_MaxineSee all my reviews

I love watching documentaries that appear as special features on DVDs because they almost invariably make me appreciate the movies more. Unfortunately, the Making of Moulin Rouge only reiterated the things that I really disliked about the movie. When the movie first came out, even before I saw it I was apprehensive about the fact that there was so much modern music in it, and then when I saw it my fears were realized. And not only that, but it is not until a full third of the way through the documentary that it says anything about the making of Moulin Rouge. Before that it is a repetitive plodding through the movie, telling us things that anyone who has seen it already knows.

It is a period film that not only features music at the forefront of modern popular culture, but that features music by Madonna, Nirvana, even Christina Aguilera, who appears in this documentary in her full, clownish make-up talking about how excited she is about her song, which probably disrupts the flow of the movie more than any of the other immensely disruptive songs.

There are various reasons given for the music used in this film, such as the fact that Director Baz Luhrmann wanted to reinvent the musical and that at the original Moulin Rouge (the original nightclub, not the 1950 film which is not mentioned in the documentary) the most popular music of the time was always being played, so the filmmakers wanted modern audiences to relate to popular music the same way the original patrons of the nightclub did. Director Baz Lurhman wanted to take the genre and re-invent it, but messing with time is simply not the way to do it.

The problem is that this is a comparison of apples and oranges. You can't ask modern audiences to relate to a 100-year-old nightclub the same way that its original patrons did by playing modern popular music. The way to do that would have been to play the music that was popular at the time. Since so much went into creating the Paris of 1900, it would seem to me to have a matter of basic, basic logic that the music of the time be used as well. This documentary admits that Moulin Rouge constantly reminds you that you're watching a movie, which is one true thing, but it's the one thing that I don't want to be reminded of when watching a movie, especially a period film.

Ever since I wrote my original review of Moulin Rouge, I have been told by friends and by various people who read it that I was being too hard on the movie just about the music, but even after watching this documentary I don't feel that I was too harsh in the least, because the music is an absolute disaster in a movie like this, with the exception of the one original song, which I believe was called Come What May. Ewan McGregor and Nicole Kidman deserve massive praise for their incredible singing performances, but the choice of music was simply catastrophic.

I am always wary of making-of documentaries that feature a significant amount of footage from the film itself, which I think should only ever be put in to illustrate a point being made about how a certain scene or sequence was made. The beginning of this documentary goes into great detail about what the movie is about, who the characters are, what the theme of the movie is, etc. while showing extensive accompanying footage from the film. This is not how a making-of documentary should run, this is an 8 minute trailer for the film. One IMDb user complained that the end of the movie was a self-serving advertisement for Strictly Ballroom and Romeo & Juliet. A more valid concern is that the first third of the documentary is a self-serving advertisement for Moulin Rouge, which is wildly unnecessary because we're already watching Disc 2 of the collector's DVD.

At one point in this documentary the claim is made that Moulin Rouge holds the record for "the longest special effects shot in cinematic history this week." What in the world is that supposed to mean? Is it the longest special effects shot in cinematic history or is it the longest special effects shot filmed that week? I doubt very much, after all, that the guy making this claim didn't realize that cinematic history preceded that week. Sadly, this is one of the more interesting things presented in the sub-par documentary.

The actress who played one of the dancers, I think her name was something charming like Nini Legs in the Air, described the Roxanne dance as being "so sexy that it starts with two people and just grows." I'm not sure exactly what she meant by that, but I did find it odd that she described it that way, if only because I found the phlegmy, guttural rendition of the song to be so distasteful that I wanted to walk out of the theater until it was over.

It's no surprise that the people that appear in the film heap praise upon each other, because I doubt that a documentary has ever accompanied a movie on a DVD in which the cast and crew did anything but heap praise on each other, and I'm wondering when these descriptions will fall flat as monumental clichés. Will it ever sound tiresome, for example, to hear an actor describe a director as an original, a great storyteller, understanding pop culture better than anybody I've ever seen, a great showman, an unstoppable genius? It can't be denied that Moulin Rouge is a tremendous work of art, but the music alone stopped it from becoming as truly great as it could have and should have been, Sadly, this documentary does nothing to dispel that unfortunate fact.

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