A Look Back on Moulin Rouge

In 2001, director and writer Baz Luhrmann created an Australian-American pseudo-pastiche jukebox musical entitled Moulin Rouge! that starred Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor. It was the first musical nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards in ten years (Beauty and the Beast was nominated in 1991).

Moulin Rouge! would go on to be nominated for eight Academy Awards (including Best Actress for Nicole Kidman), and winning two Oscars for Best Production and Costume Design.

Director Baz Luhrmann was inspired to create this film after a trip to India, where he went to a movie theatre with 2,000 Indians to watch a Bollywood movie. He was in awe as the movie lingered for three-and-a-half hours and contained elements of drama, romance, comedy, tragedy while all being contained inside a musical.

Luhrmann once noted that Bollywood movies reminded him of Greek works, so, while writing Moulin Rouge!, he drew from Greek plays like Orpheus and Eurydice, which is why you see Indian and Greek props and decorations spread throughout the film. More, the film is set in Paris during the Bohemian Revolution of love, which is the main throughout all the songs sung and inner play within the film.

Even though the film did not win some of the most prestigious Oscars (it is regarded as the worst “robbery” in Academy Award history when the film lost to A Beautiful Mind for Best Picture), it remains a cult classic among many today, mainly due to its jukebox-style of song-choice.

The soundtrack to the film (almost) makes the bitter taste of losing sweeter. The Moulin Rouge! soundtrack contained many hits from recent decades, often creating an irresistible medley of tracks that makes it hard for anyone not to sing along to.

The most noteable medley was the “Elephant Love Song.” The song was constituted of many classics such as “Love is Like Oxygen” by Sweet, “All You Need is Love” by the Beatles, “I Will Always Love You” by Dolly Parton, and “Silly Love Songs” by Paul McCartney. The film also featured a range of guest artists from Christina Aguilera to Nirvana to Marilyn Manson.

Upon the release of the soundtrack, the Moulin Rouge! soundtrack peaked a total of eleven charts in 2001. In Australia, the soundtrack stayed at the top of the charts for 58 weeks–the longest period to date–becoming 5x platinum (350,000 albums sold).

The soundtrack would also top the charts in the United States, Spain, New Zealand, France, and Norway. Due to high demand, there would be a second volume of the film’s soundtrack that included remixes of songs from the film and songs that were not included in the original soundtrack; however, the second volume did not do nearly as well as its predecessor as it barely broke the top 100 on the Billboards.

Regardless, it Moulin Rouge! original soundtrack that is remembered today for Ewan McGregor’s stunning voice and Nicole Kidman’s beauty.

– Colt Pierce

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