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Sitting down to watch 2001’s MOULIN ROUGE ($35) for the first time, I found the film to be mesmerizing and visually astounding. With MOULIN ROUGE, co-writer/director Baz Luhrmann creates a cinematic world of perfect artifice to tell a highly operatic story with contemporary pop music- all of which has been perfectly honed to the needs of his story. Although set at the turn of the 20th Century, MOULIN ROUGE is a movie whose incredible visual splendor could not be achieved without 21st Century cinematic techniques. Very little of what one sees on the screen in MOULIN ROUGE has anything to do with reality, thus the fairytale Paris of 1900 that the movie depicts was created through countless seamless layers of digital trickery.

MOULIN ROUGE tells the story of an aspiring writer named Christian (Ewan McGregor) who goes to Paris to discover his art amongst the bohemian atmosphere of the day. After a chance encounter with Toulouse Lautrec (John Leguizamo), Christian is taken to the Moulin Rouge, where he is to meet Satine (Nicole Kidman), the beautiful courtesan who is to star in a new musical extravaganza that he will write. Because of a mix up, Satine mistakes Christian for a potential backer for the Moulin Rouge’s new musical production, and she works her feminine wiles on the nave writer, who instantly falls in love with her. Although Satine’s feels equally enamored with Christian, their love affair is a rocky one. Coming between Satine and Christian is The Duke (Richard Roxburgh)- the potential backer of the Moulin Rouge’s new production, who is willing to invest his money in the show, only if Satine becomes his exclusively. The cast of MOULIN ROUGE also features Jim Broadbent, Garry McDonald, Jacek Koman, Matthew Whittet and Kerry Walker.

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment has made MOULIN ROUGE available on Blu-ray Disc in a 2.35:1 aspect ratio presentation that has been encoded onto the disc with the AVC codec. The 1080p presentation is utterly stunning; making the most of Baz Luhrmann’s intricately constructed visual feast. Image sharpness, depth and dimensionality are very superb performers, although some sequences with multi-layered digital elements do appear a bit less resolved. In shots without digital elements, fine details, like the texture of fabrics and the imperfections in the actor’s skin, plus individual hairs are clearly visible. Colors are lush and wonderfully vibrant, while the flesh tones tend to be totally appealing. Blacks appear velvety, while the whites are crisp. Contrast can be very smooth or incredibly harsh, depending on the mood the filmmakers are trying to create at a given moment, plus the picture boasts impressive shadow detail. The elements from which MOULIN ROUGE have been mastered are virtually free from flaws. A fine sheen of grain is noticeable throughout, which reminds one that they are watching a movie, instead of a video.

MOULIN ROUGE is presented on Blu-ray Disc with a 5.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. As I stated about the DVD release, the sound is almost as incredible as the image, although this isn’t a particularly effect laden soundtrack. Not surprisingly, the music is the star of this soundtrack, and the element that takes full advantage of the entire soundstage. The lossless encoding greatly enhances the fidelity of the musical numbers, which sound richer and have an invigorated sense of presence. Additionally, the bass channel adds weight to the tonality of the music, not to mention quite a bit of punch. Voices have a warm, natural quality, plus the film’s dialogue is always completely understandable. French, Spanish and Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1 channel tracks are also encoded onto the disc, as is an English descriptive track. Subtitles are available in English, Spanish and Portuguese.

Full motion video, animation and sound serve to enhance the disc's interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to standard scene selection and set up features, as well as the supplements, some of which have been ported from the previous DVD release. Starting things off is the Spectacular, Spectacular Picture-In-Picture Mode, which incorporates a running Audio Commentary with director Baz Luhrmann, production designer and costumer Catherine Martin, director of photography Don McAlpine and co-writer Craig Pearce, along with behind the scenes footage, sketches, blue screen photography, and stills, plus pop-up windows that feature songs titles/composers and other factoids (requires a Profile 1.1 player), not to mention allowing access to other content relative to a given moment in the film. The Bazmark Vault offers individual access to the content contained in the Spectacular, Spectacular Picture-In-Picture Mode.

Featurettes and other programs include: A Word From Baz (two minutes), A Creative Adventure (eleven minutes), The House Of Iona (seven minutes) and The Making Of Moulin Rouge! (twenty six minutes). Other supplemental programs are broken down by content type and feature multiple segments contained within each: The Stars, The Writers, The Design, The Dance, The Music, The Cutting Room, Toulouse Tonight Web Series and finally, Marketing, which includes two Theatrical Trailers closes the standard supplements. MOULIN ROUGE is also BD-Live enabled (requires a Profile 2.0 player).

MOULIN ROUGE is a glorious artistic achievement of sight, sound and musical storytelling. The Blu-ray presentation is close to perfection. Absolutely recommended.


Moulin Rouge! [Blu-ray] (2001)


DVD & Blu-ray Disc reviews are Copyright 2010 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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