Moulin Rouge: Special Edition (2001)

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Released 3-Dec-2001

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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)

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