CONSIDERED by Hollywood critics as probably the year’s best film, director Baz Luhrmann’s musicale Moulin Rouge is a love story in the truest sense.

Known for his critically acclaimed works such as Strictly Ballroom and William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, which both formed part of his “Red Curtain” trilogy, Luhrmann blended together history and fiction in making this semi-fantasy film, which caps the series.

Set in the 1899-1900 city of Montmarte, Paris, Moulin Rouge is inspired by the Greek myth of Orpheus, who went to the netherworld to get back his lover Eurydice, only to lose her in the end.

The film revolves around the life of a penniless poet, Christian, (Ewan McGregor), who goes to Paris during the turn of la belle époque (the beautiful period) with the hope of being successful.

Christian stumbles on a group of Bohemian artists, led by the diminutive Toulose Lautrec (John Leguizamo). The group is trying to put together a musical masterpiece, “Spectacular Spectacular,” to revive French theater. It commissions Christian to finish the script.

While completing the script, Christian meets the Rouge’s star, Satine (Nicole Kidman), a beautiful courtesan who happens to be stricken with tuberculosis. Christian easily falls for the alluring Satine, eventually making her the lead star of “Spectacular Spectacular.”

However, the wealthy Duke of Worcester (convincingly portrayed by Richard Roxburgh) uses his riches to woo and corrupt Satine. He gets the support of Zidler (played by Jim Brodbent, whose performance of Madonna’s “Like A Virgin” is a must-see).

Christian and his Bohemian friends (a.k.a. the Children of the Revolution) soon encounter a problem: they would need financial help from the Duke to stage their production.

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The Duke, however, buys the whole club, including Satine.

The film should be credited for its astounding musical performances that would make viewers yearn for more. The shots made the film lively, even if the scenes sometimes falter.

McGregor and Kidman give a wonderful rendition of the “Elephant Love Medley,” a combination of ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s pop hits like Elton John’s “Your Song,” Phil Collins’ “One More Night,” Dolly Parton’s “I Will Always Love You,” The Beatles’ “All You Need Is Love,” Kiss’ “I Was Made For Lovin’ You,” Wings’ “Silly Love Songs,” and David Bowie’s “Heroes.”

Kidman complemented her exquisite beauty with her wonderful voice when she sang Marilyn Monroe’s “Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friends,” with a touch of Madonna’s “Material Girl.”

Hits spanning from the ‘70s to the ‘90s are also given a different twist like Nirvana’s “Feels Like Teen Spirit,” Police’s “Roxanne,” El Debarge’s “Rhythm of the Night,” and “Lady Marmalade” (a catchy rendition by Christina Aguilera, Li’l Kim, Mya and Pink of LaBelle’s hit song).

Beck’s re-arrangement of David Bowie’s “Diamond Dogs” is effectively and beautifully mastered. Meanwhile, Gavin Friday’s version of the T-Rex classic “Children of the Revolution”, is a sure rock.

Over all, the film is a masterpiece and an apt closing for the trilogy Red Curtain Series¯ an additional accolade for Luhrmann.

Moulin Rouge is a film that would definitely set trends. It may generate heated views from audiences, but that is what Luhrmann hopes to achieve. Dexter R. Matilla

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