Every director has their own unique style, their own visual aesthetic that they imprint on their films. It may vary from film to film, for subject matter or tone, but there’s usually a finite style that they go with. I don’t think any director, however, can lay claim to having more style in his films than Baz Luhrmann. His films are just on a whole other level, completely chaotic and wild with fervor and energy the liked of which you will never find outside a Baz Luhrmann film, and it’s for that reason alone that a selection of his films deserve to be on a must see film list. I have yet to see Strictly Ballroom, so I can’t speak for his early work, but having seen Romeo + Juliet, and now Moulin Rouge, there’s a lot I can say about the man and what he accomplishes on the screen.
Everything, and I mean everything, in this film is showcased to such a high degree that it’s hard to realize someone hasn’t slipped twenty doses of acid into your drink. Even the opening titles and production logos are presented in a manner I’ve never seen before. From the acting to the production value to the visual effects, everything is just hyper-stylized to an insane degree. The songs you may have heard before, but never like this; the film truly makes the soundtrack its own. Now, I won’t make excuses for the story itself; it’s simple, with expected twists and a straightforward plotline, but like Avatar, you can’t really watch this for the plot, but the experience of the film itself – sometimes a film just needs to be experienced, and muddling about the deficiencies in the plot is just sour grapes; enjoy what the film does have to offer (and this film has a lot to offer), and see it for the solid entertainment that it still manages to be. Now, as I step off my soapbox, one other thing I did want to point out: the editing is, to be frank, freaking unbelievable; I made a point to look up the Academy Award winner for editing, the one that beat out Moulin Rouge, to find it was Black Hawk Down, which I have yet to see, but I honestly could care less to; the achievement of putting together Moulin Rouge and having it come out the other end the way it did was absolutely astonishing, and there was just no way I could see anything topping it.
Nothing screams the word “extravaganza” like a Baz Luhrmann film, and nothing shouts Baz Luhrmann to the heavens quite like Moulin Rouge. Now, I can see how such an over-stimulation of style can wear thin quite rapidly for some, so for that, this film really needs to come with a disclaimer, but for those who don’t mind the excess, this will be an experience you will never forget, and one you likely have never had before. Love it or hate it, it deserves its spot on the list for sheer gumption alone, and even more so that it makes it all work. See this one; even if you hate musicals, this is a musical unlike any other, and you owe it to yourself to experience what this has to offer.
Arbitrary Rating: 8/10