The Moulin Rouge on Boulevard de Clichy (Paris, France)

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Moulin Rouge

Moulin Rouge! is a 2001 Academy Award winning musical film which tells the story of a young British poet, Christian, who falls in love with the star of the Moulin Rouge cabaret, Satine. It uses the colourful musical setting of the Montmartre Quarter of Paris, France. more...

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Some plot details, specifically the poor artist and his dying lover, bear relation to the Giacomo Puccini opera La bohème (which Baz Luhrmann has also directed several times), including references to the "Bohemian" subculture. Otherwise, the plot greatly resembles that of Giuseppe Verdi's opera La Traviata, especially the end. The film was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture and the Academy Award for Best Actress for Nicole Kidman, but won only the Academy Award for Best Costume Design and the Academy Award for Best Art Direction. The film was shot entirely at Fox Studios in Sydney, Australia.


Moulin Rouge! has a storyline and structure that is said to be inspired and influenced by Bollywood movies: exuberant music, colourful visuals, elaborate sets and costumes, simple story line with a simple conflict, heroine with melodramatic disease, two-dimensional characters, and songs adopted from contemporary musicians. For example, it samples popular songs like "Chamma Chamma" from the Hindi movie China Gate, "Nature Boy" by Nat King Cole, "Lady Marmalade" by LaBelle (the Christina Aguilera/Pink/Mya/Lil Kim cover having been commissioned for this film), Madonna's "Like a Virgin", the titular song of The Sound of Music, and "Smells Like Teen Spirit" by Nirvana—all within the film's first twenty minutes. The film uses so much popular music that it took Baz Luhrmann two years to secure all the rights to the songs.

The film takes established rock music songs and modifies them to fit into a tale of a turn-of-the-20th-century Paris cabaret, blending swirling camera motion, loud music, and dancing to powerful effect. However, it depends heavily on suspension of disbelief and must be approached on its own terms.

Primary cast

  • Nicole Kidman: Satine
  • Ewan McGregor: Christian
  • John Leguizamo: Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec
  • Jim Broadbent: Harold Zidler
  • Richard Roxburgh: The Duke
  • Garry McDonald: The Doctor
  • Matthew Whittet: Satie
  • Kylie Minogue: The Green Fairy
  • Ozzy Osbourne: Voice of the Green Fairy
  • Plácido Domingo: Voice of Man in the Moon

Plot summary

The theme of the movie is love and its age-old conflict with wealth and materialism. The main character (Ewan McGregor) is a writer who comes to Paris at the height of the Bohemian movement—a city of artists, parties, and absinthe. He falls in love with the main singer of the Moulin Rouge cabaret, Satine (Academy Award winning actress Nicole Kidman), who unknowingly suffers from a terminal case of tuberculosis. A complicated love plot develops similar to that of Shakespeare in Love.


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