MOULIN ROUGE Blu-ray Review

     November 19, 2010

The frenetic, color-infused world of Baz Luhrmann’s Moulin Rouge has now descended upon the Blu-ray shelves, where Nicole Kidman’s Satine and Ewan McGregor’s Christian find impossible love in courtesan-filled streets  of late nineteenth century Paris. Though it’s the sort of film that demands to be seen on Blu-ray, this is a release just as pleasing for its cohesive extras as it is for the color-amped proceedings that unravel throughout the film.  More after the jump:

Attempting to reinvent the musical genre, Moulin Rouge finds a would-be writer leaving his bourgeois father to live a life of art and creation in Paris’ Montmartre underworld. After falling in with a pair of bohemians led by artist Toulouse-Lautrec (John Leguizamo), Christian finds himself at the Moulin Rouge and quickly falling for lead courtesan, Satine.

But Satine has mistaken him for the Duke (Richard Roxburgh), a wealthy man she hopes will pull her out of poverty and make her a real actress. The Duke comes upon the star-crossed lovers and to cover the case of mistaken identity, they claim that they are rehearsing for a new play. Christian quickly uses the scenario as the inspiration for this fake play – about a lovely woman who falls for a penniless sitar player instead of a powerful maharaja.

Fueled with pop music ranging from Dolly Parton’s “I Will Always Love You” and Elton John’s “Your Song” to Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and Lamb’s “Gorecki,” Satine and Christian try to hide their love as she attempts to woo the Duke. But in a world of corsets and high physical stress, the manic comedy is mixed with tragedy – Satine is cursed with consumption and grows ever weaker.

When the film first hit DVD, it was an overflowing, 2-disc offering chock full of special features. On Blu-ray, the film is even more impressive. The video and audio transfers are very close to perfect, which is what we’d both hope and expect from such a visually and aurally intensive film, but there is just as much magic in the perks alongside the feature.

Unlike many Blu-ray upgrades that simply toss the old extras onto the new disc and exclaim “so be it,” Luhrmann’s team does what they can to make the release worthy to the fans in every which way, going so far as to improve on old features to employ the latest Blu-ray rechnology.

The gem of the bunch is “Spectacular Spectacular,” a picture-in-picture commentary. Though the viewer is free to watch all the extras on their own at their leisure, there’s also the choice to watch many of them as jumping points within the film, as a commentary plays over the proceedings. Though many pop-up video-reminiscent extras kill the enjoyment of the feature, this one adds a nice sense of the process to the film. While the scenes play, the viewer is treated to picture-in-picture clips of rehearsals and set design, brief trivia, the commentary discussion,  and even jump-off points where the viewer can see additional features.

The high-def features – there’s no suffering through terribly crappy and old features that take you out of the high-definition frame of mind – cover almost everything the viewer could want to see. There’s discussion of Baz, his collaborators and the House of Iona where he and his team create their films. There’s the typical making-of clips and interviews with the stars and behind-the-scenes talents. There’s even additional footage from the Bazmark Vault that includes an early cut scene of Ewan McGregor singing “Father and Son.” The only misstep that could’ve helped this extensive array is a look into the real Moulin Rouge, to reveal to fans the real place, the real people like Toulouse-Lautrec, and how they were adapted into Luhrmann’s vision.

But that is a mere nitpick to a really solid disc that offers an increasingly visually beautiful experience to a musical classic.

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