Moulin Rouge Blu-ray review
|REVIEWS - BLU-RAY REVIEWS|
A true 'spectacular' that finally gets the detail it deserves...
"The movie looks and sounds incredible, having been remastered and recolored for this Blu-ray release"
Ten years ago, I was taken to the art house theatre in the town I was living to see a musical. Were I not dating the girl who dragged me to it, I would have never seen this explosion of sight and sound, of arch-drama and daffy comedy. Moulin Rouge has wound up one of my go-to movies for the last eight or nine years, and was one of the first DVDs I ever bought for myself. I am continually impressed by the editing and production design, particularly the costuming.
When I got the DVD, I was pleased as punch to find excellent footage of the dance rehearsals and design stills of all the cancan dancers. Best of all, there was a feature where you could do your own on-the-fly edit for several of the dance sequences, including my favorite, the Roxanne Tango. The downside was that the resolution was terrible, sapping some of the enjoyment from the experience.
Once the Blu-ray format was announced, I wished beyond hope that someday it would get a release and I could see not only the film itself, but also those drawings and the editing feature in sumptuous high definition. Well, I got the first part. The movie looks and sounds incredible, having been remastered and recolored for this Blu-ray release.
"This is an excellent disc, well worth the work that went into making sure the image is better than it’s ever looked, and dishing up a considerable amount of new material in the extras"
The batch of extras that comes with this release is thick and took me quite some time to get through, only to find that the footage and stills I had waited so long for were not only not in HD, they weren’t there at all. Most of the features are in 480p (or less), but instead of appearing full-screen and blowing out the resolution, they’re presented with massive, static borders which occupy a full half of the screen. It tends to reduce your appreciation for things when your viewing area is significantly reduced.
Some of the footage is shown in the film’s proper aspect ratio of 2.40:1, which lowered the viewable area of the screen from 46” to 20”. Granted, I could (and did) use my TV’s zoom feature, but many people don’t have a full grasp of what their machines can do, judging by how many incorrect ratios I’ve seen over the years. It would have been better all-around if some kind of middle ground could have been found, like blowing out the image 50%, then bordering what was left.
Still, this is an excellent disc, well worth the work that went into making sure the image is better than it’s ever looked, and dishing up a considerable amount of new material in the extras.
Overall: Quite good (too much of it is from the DVD and the border issue is significant)
[ Bold denotes material of particular interest. ]
1) Spectacular Spectacular - The centerpiece of the extras, a picture-in-picture mode with audio commentary by director Baz Luhrmann, production designer Catherine Martin, cinematographer Donald McAlpine and co-writer Craig Pierce. Throughout the film, storyboards, plates, mattes, composite elements, promo stills, production stills, development images, rehearsal footage and more pop up to illustrate the commentary as well as the name and artist of each song . The movie becomes something of a distraction before too long, leading me to wish there was an option to watch just the PIP elements full screen since much of it is far more fascinating than the stuff on the rest of the disc, containing video and images from the DVD extras that were left off the BR, which (coincidentally enough) were the things I most wanted included.
2) Above audio track without PIP elements.
3) A Word from Baz - A short clip from Luhrmann letting us know that a goodly amount of effort has gone into this disc, specifically the coloring of the feature and the collection of footage found below in “From the Bazmark Vault.”
4) A Creative Adventure - Luhrmann and Martin discuss the nature of their work together, from concept to execution, with slightly exaggerated whimsy. It’s clear, though, that they are speaking from the heart; it’s earnest but not off-putting. There is, however, almost no information about the movies themselves.
[ All of the below features are bordered ]
5) The House of Iona - Short examining the estate house where pre- and post-production work on Luhrmann’s films is done, including screen-tests, initial choreography, costuming, music, workshopping, et cetera. It’s interesting as few directors have this sort of thing at their disposal - a functional home for the production company where the movies are plotted and assembled. This clip appears to be part of the film’s original EPK, filmed and prepared by the BBC.
6) The Making of Moulin Rouge* - Cribbed from the original DVD, it spends most of its runtime reiterating the story and “introducing” us to characters we ought to know, since no one watches these things if they haven’t already seen the movie, revealing the intention of this type of extra - repurposed promotional material, glossing over any real information about design or production.
7) From the Bazmark Vault - A lengthy collection of fresh extras not found on the DVD:
- Father and Son
- Early Cut of ‘Zidler’s Rap’
- Baz Luhrmann Unleashes Unbridled Lust
- A Kiss, a Touch or a Pat
- Nicole and Jim Rehearse at Iona
- Ewan and Nicole’s First Dance
- Zidler’s Jig
- Directing Man in the Moon and Deleted Cut
- Directing ‘Like a Virgin’ / The Duke’s Happy Ending / Jealously Tango - The Early Tests
- Rehearsal Footage - Jealousy Tango
- Rehearsing Ravishment
- On-set with ‘Toulouse Tonight’
- Nicole Kidman’s First Vocal Test - Sad Diamonds
8) The Stars* - Satine / Christian / Zidler / Toulouse / Duke
9) The Writers - Interview with the Writers / Description of the First Draft
10) The Design - Interview with Producer and Co-costumer Catherine Martin / Interview with Co-costume Designer Angus Strathie / The Evolution of the Intro / The Green Fairy / The Windmill / Shristian’s Garret / The Main Hall / The Garden of Earthly Delights / Gothic Tower
11) The Dance* - “Extended” dance sequences which are actually less “extended” than they are “uninterrupted” by plot: Cancan / Tango / Hindi / Coup D’Etat / Interview with Choreographer John O’Connell
12) The Music* - The Music Journey / The Love Medley Music / Interview with Fatboy Slim / “Lady Marmalade” / “Come What May” / “One Day I’ll Fly Away”
13) The Cutting Room* - Interview with Editor Jill Bilcock and Baz Luhrmann / Director’s Mock Previsualization
14) Toulouse Tonight promotional web series - Intro / Cancan / The Bohos / The Duke / Christian / The Extras / Satine / The Crew / A Day with Toulouse / The End
15) Marketing - Around the World with Moulin Rouge / Theatrical Trailer / Japanese Theatrical Trailer
* denotes material recycled from the DVD
Moulin Rouge is out on Blu-ray now
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