My next trip down memory lane in my personal musical film festival is Moulin Rouge! This 2001 musical by Australian director Baz Luhrmann is a beautiful legacy for us to enjoy over and over again. It is a musical like no other in that it’s songs are mostly a reimaging of popular (love) songs cleverly intertwined into a brazenly romantic tale set in a Paris cabaret during the turn of the century. Only one original song was specially written for this which is the hauntingly beautiful and instantly likeable “Come What May”. The film constantly delights with how well it manages to blend the lyrics and mood of familiar tunes to the story.
Apart from the feat achieved in its music, the movie also excel in its acting. The casting of Ewan McGregor and Nicole Kidman as the ill fated star crossed lovers is perfect. Both actors are not exactly known for their singing talents and yet, their singing comes across as very convincing and professional. Ewan McGregor especially shines whenever he sings and hits those high notes, and does justice to all the songs handled. The supporting cast which includes the likes of Jim Broadbent, John Leguizamo and a cameo by Kylie Minogue, playing all sorts of crazy characters provide endless smiles and laughter.
The detailed and incredibly colourful sets are truly a marvel and nothing I have ever seen in conventional musicals so far. Who can forget the silliness and romantic medley of mushy love songs sung on top of a giant sized elephant elaborated ornamented like a Indian royal transport, or the dizzying kaleidoscope of the interior of the famed Moulin Rouge, and the hilarious take on Madonna’s “Like A Virgin”! The list goes on and on as every musical moment (and there are many of these) is met with gleeful delight.
Moulin Rouge may lack the feel of originality in its music (after all practically every song is not original), and plot (a love story that is as familiar as the songs), but it still comes across looking fresh and like nothing you have ever seen or heard before! Even now, after 20 years, the show still looks simply “Spectacular!”, and certainly miles ahead of most of the new movies that we seem to be laden with these days. Thanks goodness for the golden oldies but goodies to keep our fate in the cinema alive.