Overall | Strictly Ballroom: Special Edition (1992) | Romeo + Juliet: Special Edition (1996) | Moulin Rouge: Special Edition (2001) | Behind the Red Curtain

Red Curtain Trilogy (Strictly Ballroom/Romeo+Juliet/Moulin Rouge)

Red Curtain Trilogy (Strictly Ballroom/Romeo+Juliet/Moulin Rouge)

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Released 27-Nov-2002

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Overall Package

    This box set exists for a reason — each of these movies was carefully crafted in a different way, but they have their unreality in common. If you liked any of these films, I suggest you consider the others. If you liked any two of these films, then don't hesitate — buy this box right now.

    I started reviewing this box set having seen only one of these movies — Strictly Ballroom, if you're curious. I had every intention of watching Moulin Rouge, but hadn't gotten around to it. I'd seen the first few minutes of Romeo + Juliet, and felt fairly negative about it (it looked wrong to me, given my ideas about Romeo and Juliet, the play). I'm a little surprised, and very happy, to discover that I like all three films. They are very different, but feel similar, in their melodrama.

    There are probably more extras in this box set than you've seen in any other box set — each disc has a heap of extras, and then there's the extra disc as well. The extra disc that comes in this box set is fascinating. It offers an amazing amount of background to the films, and their development and success. It explains the why, and what, and how, of these films. Fabulous stuff. I appreciate each of these films a lot more, understanding the background.

    There's one small negative — it seems likely there may not be another one of these films. That's sad.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Tony Rogers (bio-degrading: making a fool of oneself in a bio...)
Tuesday, October 22, 2002
Other Reviews
DVD Net - Martin F (read my bio)
AllZone4DVD - Magalie S
DVDAnswers - Pete R

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What if I already have MR? -

Overall | Strictly Ballroom: Special Edition (1992) | Romeo + Juliet: Special Edition (1996) | Moulin Rouge: Special Edition (2001) | Behind the Red Curtain

Strictly Ballroom: Special Edition (1992)

Strictly Ballroom: Special Edition (1992)

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Released 23-Apr-2003

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Romantic Comedy Menu Animation & Audio
Featurette-Samba To Slow Fox
Gallery-5
Audio Commentary
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1992
Running Time 90:33
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (20:44) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Baz Luhrmann
Studio
Distributor

Twentieth Century Fox
Starring Paul Mercurio
Tara Morice
Bill Hunter
Pat Thomson
Barry Otto
Gia Carides
Peter Whitford
Case ?
RPI ? Music David Hirschfelder


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired
French
French Titling
English Audio Commentary
French Audio Commentary
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

A life lived in fear is a life half lived.

    Strictly Ballroom is many things. Baz Luhrmann calls it the first volume of his Red Curtain trilogy of films (more on that later). It was a hit at the 1992 Cannes Film Festival, and quite possibly was one of the reasons Baz Luhrmann got the backing to make the films he's made since. It was the first film Baz Luhrmann made. It was the first film Paul Mercurio starred in. It was the last film Pat Thomson made (she died before she received the award for her part in this film). I call it a favourite - when I first got a DVD player I made a list of films I wanted on DVD, and this one was high up the list.

    This film is about ballroom dancing, or so it appears superficially. It is really about oppression of creativity and about the lengths someone may go to to retain power. There's a love story, and treachery, betrayal, and deep dark secrets. Heck, if it had sword fighting it would The Princess Bride! It has the same overt melodrama, the same theatrical quality - if you liked The Princess Bride, you'll like this.

    Scott Hastings (Paul Mercurio) has been trained as a ballroom dancer since the age of 6 years old with a single objective in mind: to win the Pan-Pacific Grand Prix. This would have happened, had it not been for a disastrous incident at the Waratah Championship. Scott and his partner Liz (played superbly by Gia Carides) get boxed in, and Scott yields to impulse, deviating from the permitted steps to escape the box - he resorts to "flashy, crowd-pleasing steps". As Dance Federation President Barry Fife (an awesome performance from Bill Hunter) puts it: "you can dance any steps you like, but it doesn't mean you'll win". They don't win. Liz can't stand it - she dumps Scott as a partner. Scott is approached by a beginner, Fran (Tara Morice), who wants to dance his steps, no matter whether they win or not. Meanwhile, Scott's mother Shirley (Pat Thomson) and his dance coach Les (Peter Whitford) are hoping to find Scott the right partner so he can resume the straight and narrow path and win, the way they've always planned.

    There are added complications: Fran's father (Antonio Vargas - who happens to teach Flamenco dancing in real life...), who is Spanish, and not impressed by the ballroom dancing version of the paso doble; Scott's father, Doug (Barry Otto) and his secret; The Dance Federation as a whole, and Barry Fife in particular. We know things will work out, but there are plenty of bumps along the way. There are some wonderful moments, too, particularly when Scott rediscovers his joy in dancing.

    On the commentary, Baz Luhrmann makes it clear that the world of ballroom dancing that this film is gently sending up is not real - although the film was made in the 1990s, and sort of set in the 1980s, the kind of ballroom dancing it refers to is more that of the 1970s (the rigid limits on steps had already relaxed in the 80s). He is at pains to point out that this is a fantasy world in which our fairytale takes place. Despite these protestations, I think there are some strong elements of truth - certainly the costumes are not in the least exaggerated. I continue to be amazed by the female costumes in the Latin dance sports - they consist of small scraps of cloth covered in sparkles, held in place by the personal magnetism of the wearer, as far as I can tell.

    This film features magnificent performances by so many of the actors. Paul Mercurio is good, but Tara Morice is even better - she had the advantage of playing Fran in the earlier stage production, but it is her performance that really sells the transformation from ugly duckling to swan. Antonio Vargas is very good, but his role is not a big stretch. Barry Otto is superb, just as is Pat Thomson. Bill Hunter is absolutely brilliant (wish his make-up wasn't so orange, though) as the despotic president, played in the manner of a familiar Australian political figure. In fact, put simply, there isn't a single weak performance in the whole film.

    Some of the best lines are reserved for Kylie (Scott's little sister, played by Lauren Hewett) - just as in Gregory's Girl, the smaller children seem much more mature than the teenagers.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

    This transfer is presented at an aspect ratio of 1.85:1, 16x9 enhanced. That's the original theatrical aspect ratio. Baz Luhrmann has used the whole frame, even to the extent of having actors standing half off both edges of the frame on occasion - almost as if he was aiming at a scope frame. It would be a crime to Pan & Scan this film.

    The image is quite intentionally grainy at times (particularly any footage that is meant to look like news footage, like the interview segments), so the sharpness is variable. As the film moves toward a more 'natural' appearance, the sharpness increases. Shadow detail is always a bit limited, but perfectly adequate. There is what looks like low-level noise at some points, but it is probably fine grain. The flaws in this transfer are really only obvious on a large screen - on a 68cm screen, for example, the flaws are pretty much invisible.

    Colour has to be strong to support the vivid colours of the costumes, and it is. There are no colour-related artefacts, although there are some unusual looking colours on occasion, but these are effects of the lighting. There is quite  a bit of flaring in the 1967 flashback sequence, but this is part of the design, and inherent in the source material. There's also a lot of flare from lights around dance floors, but that's part of the style, and it would look wrong without it.

    There are numerous film artefacts, but they are small, and not troubling.

    There's no real aliasing, moire, or MPEG artefacts. There is some very mild posterization, but it doesn't detract from the picture.

    There are subtitles in French, and captions in English. There are also subtitles for the audio commentary in both English and French, which is good to see, although the French commentary subtitles have to be selected by remote, because there's no menu selection for them (most players won't permit this, which is a shame).

    The disc is single-sided and RSDL-formatted. The layer change is very early in the film, at 22:44. It comes in the middle of a scene, but it's not particularly obvious.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The soundtrack is provided in English and French. The English soundtrack is Dolby Digital 5.1 and it really deserves the 5.1 mix.

    The dialogue is clear, but the Australian accents make a few words less than perfectly comprehensible. There are no audio sync problems.

    David Hirschfelder has assembled an excellent score - this film would be lessened without it. There are a number of songs of the period included in the soundtrack, including the well-known ones from John Paul Young. (listen to his parody of Standing in the Rain over the credits). Interestingly, the song Time After Time is sung on the soundtrack by Tara Morice - she has a good voice.

    This is a beautifully immersive soundtrack, with the surrounds constantly in use, but used quite subtly - they don't draw attention to themselves.

    The subwoofer doesn't get a heap of signal, due to the dearth of explosions in the soundtrack, but it does a lovely job of supporting the deep bass register.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    There are only a few extras on this disc, but they are interesting.

Menu

    The menus are animated with music. One piece of bad news: on a Pioneer player there's a nasty 'crack' at the end of the music, and at the end of the transitional pieces. First time I heard it I thought something had broken. I've reproduced this problem on two Pioneers, and confirmed that it does not happen on a Sony. Thank goodness it is only on the menu.

Featurette - Samba to Slow Foxtrot (30:20)

    This is an interesting study of the world of ballroom dancing that inspired this film. This documentary was made in 1985, well before the movie. It is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, and is therefore not 16x9 enhanced.

Gallery - Design

    This is divided into five sections, none of them very long. There is commentary over each section.

Audio Commentary - Baz Luhrmann, Catherine Martin, John (Cha Cha) O'Connell

    A fairly interesting commentary from the director and co-writer, Baz Luhrmann, production designer and co-costume designer, Catherine Martin, and choreographer, John O'Connell. They cover a lot of ground in a somewhat disorganised way. It becomes obvious at a few points that this commentary was recorded for the Region 1 version of the DVD, because they go to trouble explaining some things they think Americans might not understand, including Paul Mercurio's singlet. Even so, I recommend giving this commentary a listen.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    I was rather keen to get this movie on DVD. The first version available was the Region 2 (released quite a while back), then the Region 1 (earlier this year), and now the Region 4. The Region 2 is quite different from the others, both in content and design - it has quite an ugly cover, and completely different extras. The Region 1 version and the Region 4 are quite similar, using the same menu design, and almost the same extras. Comparing these two:

    The Region 4 is missing:

    The Region 1 is missing:

    The Region 2 has none of the extras that are on the Region 1 and 4 versions, but it has:

    By the way, if you look up the R2 on-line you may see claims that it is 1.33:1 and that it is 113 minutes long - these claims are rubbish; it is 1.85:1, 16x9 enhanced, and runs 90:53, which is 20 seconds longer than the R4 (I have not located those extra 20 seconds, but I don't think it is an extended cut). Note that the R2 is only single-layered, while the R1 and R4 are dual-layered, but this doesn't seem to have resulted in over-compression of the R2, perhaps because it has less information (no commentary). Apparently this version may have been discontinued (information is contradictory), and replaced by a Collector's Edition with the same extras, but a different transfer.

    The video transfer for all three versions is fairly similar, but the R2 version has only Dolby Digital 2.0 surround encoded sound, versus the 5.1 soundtrack on the R1 and R4, and the 5.1 is well worth having. The extra extras on the R1 are interesting (especially the deleted scene), but they are hardly compelling reasons to pick the R1. I'd say you could be very happy with either the R1 or R4, providing you're willing to overlook that nasty noise on the menu (or your player doesn't reproduce it).

Summary

    Strictly Ballroom is a marvellous movie, on a good disc.

    The video quality is rather good.

    The audio quality is very good, except on the menu (on some players).

    The extras are interesting.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Tony Rogers (bio-degrading: making a fool of oneself in a bio...)
Friday, October 11, 2002
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-S733A, using Component output
DisplaySony VPH-G70 CRT Projector, QuadScan Elite scaler (Tripler), ScreenTechnics 110. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationDenon AVC-A1SE
SpeakersFront Left, Centre, Right: Krix Euphonix; Rears: Krix KDX-M; Subwoofer: Krix Seismix 5

Other Reviews
DVD Net - Terry K
AllZone4DVD - Magalie S
The DVD Bits - Chris A

Comments (Add)
Individual release - IgorWopatropski REPLY POSTED
Strictly Ballroom -
Odd -
Odd, not so -

Overall | Strictly Ballroom: Special Edition (1992) | Romeo + Juliet: Special Edition (1996) | Moulin Rouge: Special Edition (2001) | Behind the Red Curtain

Romeo + Juliet: Special Edition (1996)

Romeo + Juliet: Special Edition (1996)

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Released 23-Apr-2003

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Menu Animation & Audio
Audio Commentary
Featurette-Director's Gallery (6)
Gallery-Cinematographer's Gallery
Gallery-Design Gallery
Interviews-Cast & Crew-7
Music Video-Kissing You
Music Video-Young Hearts
TV Spots
Theatrical Trailer
Gallery-Poster
Script To Screen Comparison
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1996
Running Time 115:15
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (53:27) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Baz Luhrmann
Studio
Distributor

Twentieth Century Fox
Starring Claire Danes
Leonardo DiCaprio
Jesse Bradford
Vondie Curtis Hall
Brian Dennehy
John Leguizamo
Miriam Margolyes
Harold Perrineau
Christina Pickles
Pete Postlethwaite
Paul Rudd
Paul Sorvino
Diane Venora
Case ?
RPI $39.95 Music Nellee Hooper
Craig Armstrong
Marius De Vries


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (96Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Smoking Yes, extensive
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

a pair of star-crossed lovers

    I hope you don't expect me to believe that you don't know the basic plot to Romeo and Juliet, because I ain't gonna believe it. I won't be talking about the plot.

    I've seen a number of performances of Romeo and Juliet. The Zeffirelli Romeo and Juliet (1968) was the definitive film version for a long time, and arguably remains the classic version. I have seen the play performed by a number of troupes, including a Nimrod Theatre performance in 1979 (I think) with Mel Gibson as Romeo and Angela Punch McGregor as Juliet — I doubted this film could measure up.

    Baz Luhrmann started with a fervent desire, one that withstood even his fears and uncertainties in pitching it to Hollywood executives (he recounts this entertainingly in one of the extras). He wanted to present Shakespeare's language in a manner which would make it approachable to audiences of today. He intended to make no alterations in the language itself, but to surround it with such context as would make the intention clear. I believe he has, at least in major part, achieved this end.

    There are a few touches I consider somewhat over-done. Perhaps the worst is the way in which we get a crash-zoom in on an automatic pistol so we can see that it is labelled "Sword 9mm", thus justifying the talk of "put up your swords". The emphasis on religious iconography feels a bit heavy-handed, even if it is accurate. But I started with a fairly negative attitude toward the film, making me perhaps over-sensitive to these. I needs must confess to increasing tolerance, drawn in greatest part by the seductive nature of Shakespeare's tongue, but aided by the performances of the leading actors.

    Fact is, much as Leonardo di Caprio is disparaged (and he deserves at least some disparagement for what he says when interviewed for this DVD), he puts in quite a solid performance here. His effort is surpassed, however, by that of young Claire Danes (she was 16) — she does a superb job of Juliet, being perhaps the only one to make her lines sound completely natural. Pete Postlethwaite's Friar Laurence is remarkable, as is the crucifix tattoo on his back. John LeGuizamo's Tybalt is pretentious, but menacing and dangerous, a nicely-judged combination. Mercutio (Harold Perrineau) is entertaining, but his death scene is unconvincing.

    They have made a few changes to the plot, mostly in leaving out a few scenes, but they are true to the original (leaving out scenes has a long and honourable tradition). They do repeat a few of the lines for emphasis, an emphasis I consider unnecessary (especially at Tybalt's death). They've moved a few words, most notably, "Thy drugs are quick". The ending is most changed, but they explain most of this in the commentary. I do feel obliged to point out one flaw in their re-arrangement of the plot — Captain Prince's closing speech mentions his loss of two kinsmen. In the play, this refers to Mercutio and Paris, but in this version Paris is not killed, and is not, besides, Prince's kinsman. Ah, well, that can be forgiven, perhaps, and is likely overlooked by all but the most pedantic.

    I do like the way that the narrator at the start and end is represented by a current affairs TV host. Very effective. I could have done without the recap during Juliet's death scene, but this film was made for the US market...

    So my verdict, having admitted a prior disposition against the film? I am impressed. This is a worthy performance, and one I commend to you.

    This is the second of the Red Curtain trilogy. It is very different from the first, Strictly Ballroom, in everything except the rather melodramatic approach.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

    This transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, 16x9 enhanced. That's the original theatrical aspect ratio. The entire frame is used.

    The image is sharp and clear, and is quite attractive to look at. There's good shadow detail, and not the slightest trace of low-level noise.

    Colour is strong and vivid, especially on some of the costumes. There are no colour-related artefacts.

    There are no film artefacts of any significance, as one might hope in a film so young.

    There is some aliasing, but it is reasonably mild. I was not troubled by it. There's no significant moire, and no noticeable MPEG artefacts, making this a rather clean transfer overall.

    There are captions in English, but no other subtitles. They are accurate (omitting a few words here and there), well-timed, and quite easy to read.

    The disc is single-sided and RSDL formatted. The layer change is at 53:27. It falls at a moment of silence, at a natural pause in a scene, so it is not disturbing — whether it is visible will depend on your player.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The soundtrack is provided in English, and that's all. The English soundtrack is Dolby Digital 5.1 and they have used it to good effect.

    The dialogue is clear, but the language does not lend itself to ready comprehension — they've mixed the dialogue prominently enough to make it as clear as it can reasonably be. There are no audio sync problems; at the Capulet's party there's a moment which looks like slipping sync, but it is attributable to the drug haze affecting Romeo, and is probably deliberate.

    Nellee Hooper gets sole credit for music, but the score is attributed to Craig Armstrong, Marius de Vries, and Nellee Hooper. Either way, they've done a superb job; the music is a critical part of the drama.

    This soundtrack features some good directional sound (including the obligatory helicopter), plus plenty of ambient sound — immersive sound. And plenty of ominous rumbling from your subwoofer. You'll know why you have a full set of speakers when you play this disc.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    There are lots of extras, and they are very interesting. I just wish they had a greater variety of music behind them. If you watch all of the extras you, too, will grow quite tired of certain musical phrases.

Menu

    The menus are quite fancy, and animated with music. Even though they are quite stylised and themed to the picture, they are still quite easy to operate.

Commentary - director, writers, production designer, director of photography

    This commentary is a constant stream of talk from Baz Luhrmann (director and co-writer), Catherine Martin (production designer), Craig Pearce (co-writer), and Don McAlpine (director of photography). They are clearly recorded together, because of the natural ebb and flow of conversation. They have a lot of information to convey, and they are glad to have the opportunity to do so — this is an interesting commentary.

Director's Gallery

    This is a fascinating collection of short pieces, courtesy of Baz Luhrmann, covering various topics:

Cinematographer's Gallery

    A few short comments on each of several scenes:

Design Gallery

    More short pieces, this time courtesy of Catherine Martin:

Interview Gallery

Music Clips

Marketing Romeo+Juliet

DVD-ROM

    A script-to-screen comparison.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    There was an early release of this movie in Region 1 in 1999. It was not 16x9 enhanced, and as far as I can discover, had no extras (it was single-layered, too). Earlier this year there was a Special Edition released that sounds exactly the same as this one, including the 16x9 enhancement, all the extras, and an RSDL disc. Humorously, it lists for a lower price... If you choose to get the R1, make sure you get the Special Edition!

    It sounds as though the R1 Special Edition and ours offer similar transfers, and the same extras, so you can feel free to choose whichever suits.

Summary

    Romeo + Juliet is an impressive movie, on an excellent disc.

    The video quality is very good.

    The audio quality is very good.

    The extras are extensive and interesting.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Tony Rogers (bio-degrading: making a fool of oneself in a bio...)
Thursday, October 17, 2002
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-S733A, using Component output
DisplaySony VPH-G70 CRT Projector, QuadScan Elite scaler (Tripler), ScreenTechnics 110. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationDenon AVC-A1SE
SpeakersFront Left, Centre, Right: Krix Euphonix; Rears: Krix KDX-M; Subwoofer: Krix Seismix 5

Other Reviews
DVD Net - Martin F (read my bio)
The DVD Bits - Lorraine A
AllZone4DVD - Magalie S

Comments (Add)
Same transfer as earlier R4 release? - rochford REPLY POSTED
It has the same layer change point... - grug (there is no bio.)
Same transfer as earlier R4 release? [Response] - Ben H (My biography. Go on have a read...)
Music Edition -
RE Music Edition -

Overall | Strictly Ballroom: Special Edition (1992) | Romeo + Juliet: Special Edition (1996) | Moulin Rouge: Special Edition (2001) | Behind the Red Curtain

Moulin Rouge: Special Edition (2001)

Moulin Rouge: Special Edition (2001)

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Released 3-Dec-2001

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Musical Booklet
Main Menu Audio & Animation
Audio Commentary-B Luhrmann (Dir), C Martin (Prod Des), D McAlpine (DoP)
Audio Commentary-B Luhrmann (Co-Writer) & Craig Pierce (Co-Writer)
Active Subtitle Track-Behind The Red Curtain
Featurette-Making Of
Featurette-The Stars
Interviews-Crew
Featurette-Craig Pearce Reads Early Treatment
Notes-Old Storylines and Script Comparisons
Deleted Scenes-5
Featurette-Director's Mock Previsualizations
Featurette-Extended Dance Sequences (4) plus intro
Multiple Angles-Dance (3)
Easter Egg
Featurette-The Musical Journey; Live MTV Movie Awards
Music Video-Lady Marmalade
Gallery-Set (9),Cost (4),Graphic,Photo (5),Little Red Book,Poster
Featurette-Evolution Of The Intro;Green Fairy; Internat Sizzle Reel
Trailer-4 + Disc Credits + Music Promo
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2001
Running Time 122:35
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (52:52)
Dual Disc Set
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Baz Luhrmann
Studio
Distributor

Twentieth Century Fox
Starring Nicole Kidman
Ewan McGregor
John Leguizamo
Jim Broadbent
Case Gatefold
RPI $44.95 Music None Given


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
English dts 5.1 (768Kb/s)
English Descriptive Audio Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (96Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (96Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Baz Luhrmann has reached back into history and brought forward both a story and a style, and in doing so has proved that Australians can make some of the best films in the world. This is the kind of film that will really polarise viewers. You are either going to hate this film or fall in love with it. I don't think there will be any middle ground.

    Moulin Rouge is the third in what Luhrmann calls his 'Red Curtain' series, the first two being Strictly Ballroom and Romeo and Juliet. He also refers to this as 'audience participation cinema' where the audience makes a conscious decision to become part of the film. With Moulin Rouge, he has succeed in producing a film that is both a great joy and a sorrow to be a part of. While similar in underlying style to the first two films, Moulin Rouge goes beyond both these films into a whole new world. This is a musical, a musical of the type that we have not seen since the heyday of such great films as The Sound Of Music. While it is a musical, Luhrmann has brought this style forward into the 21st century. The music that has been used is contemporary popular music. We hear songs such as Like A Virgin, Your Song and Roxanne. The use of these and many others is brilliant. Not only does it make this a contemporary musical, but each of these songs has a context that we are used to hearing them in. They each mean something to us and have an association in our mind. Luhrmann has used this existing meaning with great skill, both to make it clear what a character feels when they sing that song, as well as using them jarringly out of context to great comedic effect. The majority of the songs have been set to an orchestral backing. Maybe I am showing my age, but I think they sound better with the rich backing of a full orchestra.

    While this is a musical, it is also both a comedy and a tragedy. Luhrmann calls them high comedy and high tragedy. We cover an incredible range of styles, both in film and music. In a few short scenes we can move from a drama to a music hall-type number. Then we more into high comedy and a Gilbert and Sullivan style. From there we return to a 40s style set piece and then on to high tragedy and scenes that tug at the heartstrings.

    To those that think two people breaking into song in the middle of a film is silly, then you are really going to miss out on something rather special. I think people have missed the direct use of song in film. Music speaks to a different part of us and love expressed in music seems far deeper than mere words can express. Imagine the scene at the end of An Officer And A Gentleman without the music. I don't see songs as out of place in this kind of film but almost a necessity as the feeling between the characters becomes greater than can be expressed without song and music - it transcends the limitations of language.

    All the actors in this film bring home brilliant performances. Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor are perfect as our two ill-fated lovers. Nicole can sing. In fact, she sings extremely well. She is also a consummate actor who brings the part of Satine to life with great skill. You cannot help but to be drawn to her character, and if I may be so bold, there is no doubt that Nicole is a very beautiful woman and the costumes in this film are incredible. Ewan also cuts a very dashing figure in his part. The sets and costumes are a visual spectacular; rich colours, incredible backdrops. All come together to make this an incredibly rich visual feast. Everywhere that you look there is something happening, something colourful, some movement and dance. You will not catch everything the first time you see this film, and most viewers will want to enjoy this film multiple times.

    The pace of the film is sometimes neck-breaking. Early in the film where we first 'go down the rabbit hole' the pace is manic. Some may find it extreme, with a wild ride of images bombarding the viewer and the number of edits per second incredible. This is all entirely intentional and sets the tone and feel of the Moulin Rouge, and the world that the director is creating for his story. At no time during the film will you have time to be bored. The energy levels in the film are breathtaking. The speed and energy in the dance routines are just amazing.

    The story is a simple one, timeless and beautiful as well as sad. A young courtesan is caught between her love for a young penniless writer, and a rich but evil duke. The owner of the Moulin Rouge needs money and he is using Satine to draw in the duke to finance his new venture. He hopes to convert the Moulin Rouge into a theatre and is betting on a new play he is having written. The play is being written by the Bohemians. The Bohemians are having a little trouble with the play and fate brings them together with an aspiring young writer, Christian, who has just moved to Paris. Christian falls in love with Satine. This leads to problems as Satine and the Moulin Rouge need the duke for his money, and he is not going to invest in the new theatre unless Satine is his. Christian also needs the duke as he is financing the play he is writing with the Bohemians. The play that is being written within the film becomes a reflection of the world of the film and leads to the final confrontation. Fate intervenes to make this a tragedy. While this is a tragedy, we are left with the conviction that there is love in the world.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    This is a reference quality transfer, and basically flawless. There are a couple of issues with the original material. Baz Luhrmann states in the commentaries that certain processing was done to give the film the feel of an old film. While these are subtle, they are present and you have to be careful to differentiate between transfer problems and source material. There are a couple of scenes that are a little soft, but again the director states this is intentional. The only thing that I regard as a slight problem is in some scenes the black is not totally black. This is not specifically mentioned by the director and it is very minor and again may well be what the director intended.

    We are presented with a lovely 2.35:1 transfer that is 16x9 enhanced.

    The transfer is razor sharp. As mentioned, some scenes are a little soft but this is what the director intended. Shadow detail is excellent. Some scenes are quite dark and there are no problems other than the lack of complete black in some of these. There is no low level noise at all.

    The colours in this film are amazing. The richness, the depth, and the saturation of the colours are all perfect. This is a real visual feast. There is no noise in the colours. This will become my new video demo disc for my system.

    There are no MPEG artefacts. Considering the level of detail in some of the scenes, the large amounts of tiny detail in the walls, the furnishings, the statues and particularly in the elephant boudoir, getting the transfer this perfect is a testament to the producers of this disc. There is no aliasing or telecine wobble. Again the director points out some camera wobble during the film and says that he does not like the artificial feel of the perfect films produced today with computer-controlled cameras and digital fix-ups. There are a tiny number of flecks but you can count those on one hand.

    Someone, somewhere decided that they would not apply edge enhancement to this transfer. Whoever you are, you have my heartfelt thanks. The transfer presents a beautiful smooth film-like image on the screen that is a joy to watch.

    There are no subtitles on this disc.

    This is an RSDL-formatted disc and the layer change occurs at 52:52. It is at a scene change and is not too distracting.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The audio transfer matches the video. It is a fantastic effort with no problems. The soundstage is slightly weighted towards the front, but as the intention of the film is to give the impression of a stage production, this is as it should be. At other times we do enter into the story and the audio sweeps around us with great surround, split and pan effects.

    There are five audio tracks on the first disc, all in English; the default Dolby Digital 5.1, DTS 5.1, Dolby Digital 2.0 Audio for the Visually Impaired and two commentary tracks, both in Dolby Digital 2.0 with the surround flag set.

    I listened to the DTS track all the way through and three quarters of the Dolby Digital soundtrack, as well as replaying the green fairy scene as well as the elephant duet multiple times for both soundtracks. These two scenes contained quite a representative sample of the soundtrack including both effects and music. If I was in a cynical mood I could be tempted to suggest that the 3db increase in volume used by the DTS track is an intentional attempt to influence the listener. Such difficulties aside, I still have to say that the DTS track does come out in front on this disc. The bass is slightly tighter and harder-hitting and the treble is clearer and sharper. The better treble also leads to slightly better imaging.

    I found the audio track for the visually impaired quite interesting. The man doing the description has a great voice with impeccable diction. He uses musical interludes to describe the scene and occasionally to get ahead a little, as during the conversation scenes it can be difficult to squeeze in a description.

    Dialogue quality is excellent, with every word spoken or sung easy to understand.

    The audio sync is also perfect. I noticed two tiny occurrences where the miming on a song was not perfect. This was only for a word or two and is only noticeable if you are really looking.

    I could fill this entire review with just my feelings on the music. It is fantastic. You could take the section of this review where I speak about the colours of the video transfer and place it here and it would work. It is an incredibly rich and lush score. The entire orchestra is in the room with you, producing some incredible music. The integration of contemporary songs is sheer genius. The music moves from one song and tune to another in a totally seamless fashion. This soundtrack will reach out and transport you into the world of the Moulin Rouge. It contains the most expressive emotions that I have heard in a long time. You will have tears in your eyes by the end of the film.

    The surrounds are perfectly integrated. I cannot describe the incredible soundstage that is created in words - you will simply have to listen for yourself. I sat there in my chair stunned at the incredible musical vista in front of me and around me. There are also great environmental cues giving real space to the soundtrack.

    The subwoofer is perfectly integrated. The sound in this film covers the entire audio spectrum. The LFE is used along with redirected bass to build a perfect and solid foundation for the music. While some of the effects use very low frequencies, so too does the music. There is one part where there is a "Da Da De Dum" underlying the music. Systems with a less than very capable subwoofer are only going to hear "Da Da De", since the "Dum" is way down there!

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    There are an incredible number of extras, with days of entertainment on the two discs supplied. Even better, the extras are all high quality in content - there is no filler material here. The video quality is somewhat variable in these extras, both because the source is sometimes a handheld video camera and because of the level of compression used on some of the material.

Menu

    The menus on the discs are in 1.78:1 and are 16x9 enhanced. The menus throughout both discs are a combination of animated and static menus and are easy to navigate. Where there is an audio accompaniment, it is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1.

Booklet

    A colourful six page booklet is included. In this booklet we find an introductory letter from Baz Luhrmann along with a quick description of some of the extra features on both discs. They really have not missed a beat in putting together this package. There is also a single sheet advertising the music CD of the film that has a listing of the CD's content.

Disc 1

Commentary: Baz Luhrmann (Director/Co-Writer), Catherine Martin (Production Designer) & Donald McAlpine (Director Of Photography)

    This is an excellent commentary. All of the participants have interesting information to talk about and they also work well together to bring out details of the film. We are told about the film and a little about the writing. We also cover the various sets and costumes and McAlpine talks about the lighting and photography. They manage to fill the two hours without any problems - yet another night's entertainment supplied by this great DVD.

Commentary: Baz Luhrmann (Director/Co-Writer) & Craig Pierce (Co-Writer)

    This is another great commentary. In this commentary, we are invited into the world of the writers. These guys feed off each other, ideas bouncing back and forth. We get to see a little of the creative energy that is generated when Baz and Craig get together. We are given a lot of information about the style of the film and how it evolved. It is fascinating listening to the incredible depth of knowledge that these guys have about making movies, about different styles and genres. Again, two hours will fly past as you listen to this commentary.

Active Subtitle Track: Behind The Red Curtain

    With this feature activated, a small green fairy periodically appears at the left of the screen during the main feature. If you then press Enter, you are taken to a small featurette on that section of the film. There are eight of these. I personally am not a great fan of this type of feature - either I am sitting down to watch a special feature or the movie. I don't like the interruption that this feature represents. What I tend to do is activate this feature while I am listening to one of the commentaries, giving me the best of both worlds. I have included the Title numbers for those with even less patience than me.

    All of these have interesting material in them. Particularly worth mentioning is the last sequence where we see how the ending evolved right up until the last minute.

Disc 2

    The majority of the material on the second disc is not 16x9 enhanced.

    There are four Easter Eggs on the second disc. The video quality of these extras is not the best. They are presented in 1.33:1 and accompanied by a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack.

Easter Egg: Rehearsal Footage

    From the main menu on the second disc, step down and select More to access the second page of menus. From here, step down to the Back entry. From here, press down one more time and a green fairy will appear at the top of the screen. Hit Enter to view some footage from a rehearsal.

Easter Egg: Sitar Costume

    Select The Stars. On the first menu page that appears, select More. On the second page of star interviews, highlight the Toulouse Lautrec: John Leguizamo card and then press the up arrow. A green fairy will appear. Pressing Enter will take you to some test footage for the costume John wears when playing a sitar.

Easter Egg: Rehearsal Footage

    From the main menu select More. From the second menu select The Dance. From the next menu select The Dance. On the next menu highlight A Word From Baz and then press the right arrow. A green fairy will appear. Press Enter and we are taken to footage where two actors are being briefed on their motivation for a particular scene.

Easter Egg: Silly Dance Footage

    From the main menu select More. On the second page select The Dance. On the next menu select the second entry, Choreography. On the next menu, move the highlight down to Main Menu. From here, press the right arrow and a small red windmill will appear. Press Enter to be taken to some footage of the choreographer performing an impromptu ballet routine.

Documentary: Making of Moulin Rouge (1.33:1, Dolby Digital 2.0, 25:58, Video Quality 3/5)

    This is quite an interesting introduction to the features that pack out this disc. It does not go into any great depth but is interesting. Some of the material is repeated elsewhere on the disc, such as parts of the actor's interviews. This also contains the only audio problem that I heard on either disc. There is a small amount of audio distortion at 11:26 that lasts for about 30 seconds.

Interviews: The Stars

    Each of the stars talks about being in the film, their impression of their characters and of Baz Luhrmann. I found these interesting if a little short. As you move from the main menu to the submenu, a 53 second clip plays with a collage of scenes from the film and the filming set. While this has some interesting images, it is a little long for a menu transition, even though you can jump forward with the chapter skip button.

This Story Is About

Interview: The Writers (1.85:1, Dolby Digital 2.0, 3:56, Video Quality 3.5/5)

    This is a short interview with Baz Luhrmann and Craig Pearce. Short, but with interesting content, particularly on how the two write together.

Interview: Crag Pearce Reads Early Treatment (1.85:1, Dolby Digital 2.0, 2:19, Video Quality 3.5/5)

    Craig Pearce talks about an early form of the script and a scene that didn't make it into the film.

Old Storylines and Script Comparison

    We are presented with four choices here. The first takes us to a rough draft of the original script. From what I can tell, the entire script is here. Each page is a single image and you navigate using the chapter skip buttons. The other three choices are revisions of the intro scene from December 1998 through to June 2000. Throughout the extras and documentaries, we see how the story originated and how it evolved through the four years it took to bring this to the big screen.

The Cutting Room Floor

Interview: Editor Jill Bilcock and Baz Luhrmann (1.85:1, Dolby Digital 2.0, 3:42, Video Quality 2.5/5)

    Their impressions on the style of the film, the story and the fact that it is a musical.

Deleted Scenes (2.35:1, Dolby Digital 2.0, 13:09, Video Quality 2.5/5)

    There are five deleted scenes running for a total of just over 13 minutes. The quality is not great, but we get to see some interesting material that again shows us how the film evolved. The edit suite information time codes and other info is at the bottom of most of the footage.

Director's Mock Previnagrets (1.85:1, Dolby Digital 2.0, 4:31, Video Quality 3/5)

    After main shooting has finished, the director can find himself in the position of needing to go back and re-shoot some scenes or to shoot new footage. To get an idea of what will be required, Luhrmann takes stills from existing scenes and adds his own voiceover. This is an interesting view into the directorial process.

The Dance

Interview: Baz Luhrmann

    A quick 30 second introduction to the extended dance scenes. He explains that the story often forces edits that cut out something, in this case the full dance routines. Three of the dance routines shown here have two sections, the full extended version and a second selection that has four camera angles. When first selected, all four angles are on-screen, each taking a bit less than a quarter of the screen. Each has a number: 1 through 4. Pressing the appropriate number on the remote (and then enter on some players) places that angle at the top of the screen taking up a bit less than half the screen. The other angles move to the bottom of the screen but are still visible. This is very clever, as the transitions are completely seamless, with no pause, no jump, and no glitch in the audio. The fourth routine only has the extended footage. They are all presented in 2.35:1, are not 16x9 enhanced and have a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track.

    These are all a real treat. We get the best of both worlds: a tightly edited movie and the ability to go back and enjoy the whole routines when we want.

Interview: Choreographer (1.85:1, Dolby Digital 2.0, 5:55, Video Quality 3.5/5)

    An excellent talk with the film's choreographer. A good lead-in to the rehearsal footage.

Footage: Rehearsals (1.33:1, Dolby Digital 2.0, 9:26, Video 4/5)

    Handheld camera footage shot during the dance rehearsals and then the first performance of the routines to the crew. Shows the incredible amount of work that went into every section of this film.

The Music

Documentary: Musical Journey (1.85:1, Dolby Digital 2.0, 9:26, Video 4/5)

    I am extremely impressed with the music in this film. Here, we meet the man responsible. Definitely one of my favourite parts of this disc.

Interview: Fat Boy Slim (1.85:1, Dolby Digital 2.0, 3:42, Video Quality 3.5/5)

    The man that produced the music for the Can Can. He specialises in music built up from samples.

The Lady Marmalade Phenomenon

Music video : MTV movie awards (1.33:1, Dolby Digital 2.0, 5:24, Video Quality 4/5)

Music video : Missy Elliot Music Club (1.33:1, Dolby Digital 2.0, 4:29, Video Quality 3.5/5)

Music Video: Come What May (2.35:1, Dolby Digital 2.0, 2:35, Video Quality 3/5)

The Design

Interview: Catherine Martin; Production Designer & Costume Co-Designer (1.85:1 16x9, Dolby Digital 2.0, 3:31, Video Quality 3/5)

    A view into the world that was created for the film.

Pictures: Set Design

    A series of still pictures covering many topics ranging from the street that the Moulin Rouge is in through to the Elephant. They cover both pre and post production and construction scenes. You navigate via the chapter skip button.

Interview: Angui Stratie; Co-Designer, Costumes (1.85:1, Dolby Digital 2.0, 2:13, Video Quality 2.5/5)

Still Pictures: Costume Design

    A series of stills including concept drawings, photos and other material. You again navigate via the chapter skip button. There is a lot of material in here!

Graphic Design

    A rolling screen that moves from right to left and is a montage of the art and design of Moulin Rouge accompanied by a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track. It runs for 3:29 and is 1.33:1.

Smoke And Mirrors

Interview: Evolution Of The Intro (2.35:1, Dolby Digital 2.0, 4.34, Video Quality 3/5)

    How the introduction evolved. The final is far better than the early concept. A view of the creative process.

Interview: Green Fairy (2.35:1, Dolby Digital 2.0, 3:44, Video Quality 2/5)

    The evolution of the green fairy concept used at the start of the film. We see the original idea evolve to the final.

Marketing

Sizzle Reel (1.33:1, Dolby Digital 2.0, 3:02, Video Quality 3.5/5)

    Compilation of trailers, audio reviews, headlines and news bites. Why were the Americans so surprised that Nicole could sing?

Still Images: Photo Gallery

    There are five sections, one from each of five different photographers. Four of these are in colour and one is in black and white.

Still Images: The Little Red Book

    The abridged story told as a series of still frames with shots from the film, old silent film word cards and text pages.

Still Images: Poster Gallery

    The posters for the film.

Trailer: Theatrical Trailer (1.85:1, Dolby Digital 2.0, 2:28, Video Quality 4/5)

Trailer: Japanese Trailer (2.35:1, Dolby Digital 2.0, 1:53, Video Quality 4/5)

Trailer: Red Curtain Box Set (1.33:1, Dolby Digital 2.0, 1:36, Video Quality 3.5/5)

    Promotion for the upcoming DVD box set containing Moulin Rouge, Romeo + Juliet and Strictly Ballroom.

Trailer: Romeo and Juliet Special Edition (1.85:1, Dolby Digital 2.0, 2:02, Video Quality 2/5)

    Promotion for the upcoming Romeo and Juliet special edition DVD.

Disc Credits

    Two text pages containing the credits for this DVD.

Music Promo Spot (1.33:1, Dolby Digital 2.0, 0:34, Video Quality 2/5)

    Promotion for the CD soundtrack.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 4 version of this disc misses out on;

    The Region 1 version of this disc misses out on;

    These are really minor differences depending on your own opinion of the usefulness of the Optimode material. That aside I see no reason to pay extra for 20% less resolution giving us a Region 4 winner.

Summary

    This disc deserves a premier spot in any DVD collection. The film is a wonderful mix of comedy, tragedy and musical and is presented on a perfect disc with more quality extras than I have ever seen.

    The video is of reference quality

    The audio is of reference quality

    The quantity and quality of the extras is excellent.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Terry McCracken (read my bio)
Thursday, November 22, 2001
Review Equipment
DVDSkyworth 1050p progressive scan, using RGB output
DisplaySony 1252Q CRT Projector, 254cm custom built 1.0 gain screen. Calibrated with AVIA Guide To Home Theatre. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with AVIA Guide To Home Theatre.
AmplificationSony STR-DB1070
SpeakersB&W DM305 (mains); CC3 (centre); S100 (surrounds); custom Adire Audio Tempest with Redgum plate amp (subwoofer)

Other Reviews
DVD Net - Anthony H (read my bio)
Dark Horizons - Garth F
The DVD Bits - Lorraine A

Comments (Add)
I never recieved no booklet in the Red Curtain box for Moulin Rogue -
RE: I never recieved no booklet in the Red Curtain box for Moulin Rogue -
How come Australian TV screening has subtitles YET DVD none? -
Subtitles -
Booklet -

Overall | Strictly Ballroom: Special Edition (1992) | Romeo + Juliet: Special Edition (1996) | Moulin Rouge: Special Edition (2001) | Behind the Red Curtain

Behind the Red Curtain

Behind the Red Curtain

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Released 25-Nov-2002

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Documentary Main Menu Audio & Animation
Featurette-The House Of Iona
Featurette-Red Curtain Cinema
Active Subtitle Track
Featurette-Now Until The Break Of Day
DVD-ROM Extras-Dubsy's Dirt; Screensavers; Toulouse Tonight
Music Video-One Day I'll Fly Away-Tony Phillips Remix
Gallery-Strictly Ballroom Comic
Script-Moulin Rouge; Romeo + Juliet; Strictly Ballroom
Credits
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production ?
Running Time 19:09
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By None Given
Studio
Distributor

Twentieth Century Fox
Starring Baz Luhrmann
Case ?
RPI Box Music None Given


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio Varies
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio Varies Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    The box set is not a phenomenon unique to DVD. There have been box sets of VHS cassettes, of CDs, of vinyl LPs, even of books. Some DVD box sets are easy to understand — they might contain every film about a particular set of characters, or they might be all the films in a series, or all the films by a director that are of a given kind. Others are harder to grasp — I'm sure we're about to see a box set like "films whose covers do not have people on them"...

    Once they decide to make a box set, the next question is how to make the box set enticing. After all, they're asking us, the consumers, to fork out quite a sum of money on some of these box sets, and it is possible we don't want all of the titles they've chosen to put in the box (Lethal Weapon 4 comes to mind...). The most obvious way to make it enticing is to make it cheaper than buying the discs individually — that's a common device, but can be unconvincing if we don't want all of the films (unless they make it a lot cheaper). Or they can change the packaging so the box set versions look nicer together than the individual discs — that's not too common, because the packaging is a significant cost for DVDs. The most compelling reason, for me, is when they include something interesting in the box set that is not available separately.

    What I'm trying to explain, in my roundabout way, is what may have prompted the creation of this disc. It is only available in the Red Curtain box set. But I think it goes further than that. This disc also serves to explain the rationale behind the Red Curtain concept. Behind the Red Curtain is a good name for it... It increases the value of the box set, by explaining it.

    Baz Luhrmann's Red Curtain films are not linked in any conventional way — they have no lead actors in common, no characters in common, not even a common style: one is a romantic comedy-drama, one is a re-telling of a Shakespearean play, and one's a musical. They are set in different eras and different worlds. The one thing they have in common is the high level of theatricality.

    Baz Luhrmann could hardly be accused of having a fear of trying something new. And so it is with this disc. He sets out to explain what Red Curtain Cinema is about, but he does so in an innovative way. The best way I can describe it is as "hyperlinked video". It is centred on a talk by Baz Luhrmann that runs for 19:09, but at intervals words appear on the right that you can select. When you select them, it is equivalent to clicking on a hyperlink on a web page, and something new appears. Many of the links lead to new pieces of video (some quite short, some a bit longer), but some lead to screens of text (especially the script links), some even to photo galleries (including photos of Baz Luhrmann as a boy and young man, as a ballroom dancer). This is probably easier to navigate on a PC, where you can use a mouse to click, and using a PC makes more sense when the scripts become DVD-ROM features (more on that below). I cannot give you a complete running time for this feature, but the opening screen suggests that there is over 2 hours of viewing included - I cannot contradict that.

    There is one thing that annoyed me slightly — I studied French in high school, so I know the correct pronunciation of "Moulin Rouge"; it grates to hear Baz Luhrmann saying "Moolon Rouge". Still, that explains why Nicole Kidman (in particular) mispronounces the name in the film.

    If you liked one or more of the Red Curtain films, then you will probably find this quite interesting.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

    The video quality is quite variable, because this work assembles footage from a variety of sources, some of it footage that was never intended for publication. To be honest, the value of the footage generally outweighs the quality.

    The video is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1. I think this is probably the intended aspect ratio.

    The sharpness of the core piece is perfectly adequate. Shadow detail is fine, but unimportant. There's no low-level noise. Some of the ancillary footage is soft, a bit harsh, and displays some low-level noise. There are lots of variations between these extremes.

    Colour is fine in the core piece, and there are no colour-related artefacts. Some of the extra footage, however, displays heavy smearing.

    The core piece is free from significant film artefacts. Some of the other footage is riddled with film artefacts, some possibly intentional, but most not. I won't attempt to give the locations, because the route you might take to get to the pieces could well be different to mine.

    There are no significant film-to-video or MPEG artefacts in the core piece. There is a little bit of aliasing in some of the extra footage, but it is not especially notable. There's no real moire, and no major MPEG artefacts, but there is quite a bit of background shimmer.

    This is a single-sided, single-layered disc, so there's no layer change. That's fine - there's not enough stuff on this disc to need a second layer.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    There's only one soundtrack, and that's in English Dolby Digital 2.0, surround-encoded.

    The dialogue is clear and easily comprehensible in the central piece. There are no audio sync problems.

    The only music in this piece consists of quotes from the three movies, so there's no single composer responsible.

    The surrounds and subwoofer aren't really needed. I suspect the reason for the surround encoding is to get a centre channel, rather than surrounds.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Menu

    The menu is animated with music, nicely themed to match the discs in the box, particularly Moulin Rouge.

Featurette - The House of Iona (6:49)

    This featurette, short though it is, is a tour of the mansion that is headquarters to Bazmark, the production house that made these films. The footage is deliberately poor quality (part of the affectation that afflicted the opening of Moulin Rouge), but that doesn't stop the tour being quite interesting. There's a credit to the BBC for the footage, but I don't think the BBC would be thrilled about that, given the deliberately poor quality.

Gallery - Show Bag

    This is a collection of stuff that they wanted to provide, but without a single theme. Some of the content (the scripts) can be accessed through the interactive piece, but I am glad they also provided a more straightforward and direct way of getting to it. The items are arranged as books on a shelf — just pick one and press Enter.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The box set containing this disc was released in Region 1 just recently. The contents sound identical to the Region 4 version, and I doubt there'd be any visible difference between the two versions.

Summary

    This is a convincing reason to buy the box set — if you like extras, then you need have no doubt — you want the box set!

    The video quality is immensely variable, and it doesn't matter.

    The audio quality is adequate.

    The extras are profuse, and interesting.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Tony Rogers (bio-degrading: making a fool of oneself in a bio...)
Monday, October 21, 2002
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-S733A, using Component output
DisplaySony VPH-G70 CRT Projector, QuadScan Elite scaler (Tripler), ScreenTechnics 110. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationDenon AVC-A1SE
SpeakersFront Left, Centre, Right: Krix Euphonix; Rears: Krix KDX-M; Subwoofer: Krix Seismix 5

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