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In the days of segregation, black entertainers often found themselves in the bitter position of performing in venues they could not enter as customers. In Las Vegas, famous black performers stayed in private homes with black families while in town.

During this time, the Moulin Rouge was the only hotel and casino in Las Vegas to allow black patrons and guests. The Moulin Rouge was the creation of restauranteur Louis Rubin and real estate entrepreneur Alexander Bisno. It opened in May of 1955 and closed in September of the same year. During its brief life, however, many well-known black celebrities such as Lena Horne and Sammy Davis, Jr. stayed at the Moulin Rouge while singing at Caesar's Palace, The Sands and other "white" establishments.

There are a number of theories regarding the hotel's failure. Some suggest that the integration of the major, more centrally-located casinos caused its customer base to disperse. Others point to changes made in the contracts of entertainers at the other five casinos in town which prevented them from playing after-hours gigs, a change that effectively (and perhaps not coincidentally) barred a lot of popular acts from playing the Moulin Rouge.

The 1960 agreement that ended segregation in the hotels and casinos of Las Vegas was signed in the Moulin Rouge. The property, which has since passed from one owner to another, was on the National Registry of Historic Places until it was destroyed in a fire on May 29, 2003.

Writeup by quizro and isabella

The Moulin Rouge Hotel was named after the famous Moulin Rouge (Red Windmill) of Paris. The Moulin first opened October 6, 1889, as a music hall, in a building with a windmill motif. This was a symbol of Louis XIV's reign, during which period the hills of Montmartre were covered with windmills. Another distinctive feature outside the building was a large stucco elephant. Male guests who climbed into the elephant's belly via a spiral staircase found a room with a belly dancer.

Slightly skewed, erotic excess was the mode of le Moulin Rouge indoors as well, as evidenced by its most famous performance: the Can-Can! -- and the man whose posters made it famous, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. Other stars of the establishment included the salacious Mistinguett (once the highest-paid female performer in the world) and an icon of crude humor, Le Petomane (a "fartiste!").

Although the Moulin is no longer at the cutting edge of entertainment as it once was, it is still a major tourist attraction, as well as a piece of history. Several films have been made about the music hall and the can-can, including a 2001 film of the above title starring Nicole Kidman.

Recordings from the old Moulin Rouge may be heard at http://www.retroactive.com/may98/moulin.html
A fantastic movie about truth, beauty, freedom, and above all things, love.

Love is like oxygen. Love is a many splendored thing. Love lifts us up where we belong. All you need is love!

A Baz Luhrmann film.

Cast:

Ewan McGregor as Christian
Nicole Kidman as Satine
Richard Roxburgh as The Duke
Jim Broadbent as Harold Zidler
John Leguizamo as Toulouse
Many others, literally hundreds of dancers and performers.

Soundtrack:

1. Nature Boy - David Bowie 3:25
2. Lady Marmalade - Christina Aguilera, Lil' Kim, Mya And Pink 4:24
3. Because We Can - Fatboy Slim 3:27
4. Sparkling Diamonds - Nicole Kidman, Jim Broadbent, Caroline O'Connor, Natalie Mendoza And Lara Mulcahy 2:52
5. Rhythm Of The Night - Valeria 3:49
6. Your Song - Ewan McGregor And Alessandro Safina 3:38
7. Children Of The Revolution - Bono, Gavin Friday And Maurice Seezer 2:59
8. One Day I'll Fly Away - Nicole Kidman 3:18
9. Diamond Dogs - Beck 4:34
10. Elephant Love Medley - Nicole Kidman, Ewan McGregor And Jamie Allen 4:13
11. Come What May - Nicole Kidman And Ewan McGregor 4:48
12. El Tango De Roxanne - Ewan McGregor, Jose Feliciano And Jacek Koman 4:43
13. Complainte De La Butte - Rufus Wainwright 3:05
14. Hindi Sad Diamonds - Nicole Kidman, John Leguizamo And Alka Yagnik 3:28
15. Nature Boy - David Bowie And Massive Attack 4:08

Read no further, unless you want the plot spoiled. But even if the plot is spoiled, the movie is still rich enough that it deserves to be seen nonetheless.

According to Luhrmann, the plot is based on the myth of Orpheus. The story is about Christian, a penniless writer who travels to the Moulin Rouge to join in with the Bohemian revolution. There, he falls in with a group of actors who want him to write their play, "Spectacular Spectacular". But first, Christian must meet with Satine, a courtesan at the Moulin Rouge, to amaze her with his "talent" so that Christian will become the writer of the play.

The movie begins with Christian writing a story a year after the actual events of the movie, and in this opening scene, we find that Satine dies. It becomes clear in Christian and Satine's first meeting that Satine has tuberculosis (consumption), and that this will lead to her death. Christian, however, is totally unaware.

After a mix-up, Satine believes that Christian is actually The Duke, and she takes him back to her room (which is actually the head of an elephant). Here, she attempts to seduce him, because she needs The Duke's financial backing to help Zidler (who could be her father - that was unclear, and most likely he was just a father figure to Satine) transform the Moulin Rouge into the world's first true Bohemian theater, and also so that she might become a real actress as opposed to just a can-can dancer.

Once Satine realizes that Christian is not the Duke, she tells him to leave, but at that moment the Duke arrives at her room. Christian manages to hide, and with some creative gesturing and the use of the poetry that Christian sang to Satine, The Duke is pushed out of Satine's room.

Suddenly, Satine begins to cough, and she passes out. Christian catches her and throws her to the bed. The Duke returns and catches them, but with the help of the eavesdropping Zidler and the Bohemian actors, they convince The Duke that they were having an emergency rehearsal to incorporate the Duke's artistic ideas.

Here, Christian develops the plot for Spectacular Spectacular. It is about a courtesan (played by Satine) who must save her kingdom by seducing the evil Maharajah (played by Zidler, representing The Duke). However, she falls in love with a penniless sitar player (played by the narcoleptic Argentinian, representing Christian), and in the end, the sitar player's magic sitar (played by Toulouse), which can only speak the truth, lets the cat out of the bag, but then saves the courtesan and the sitar player by playing their love song, and saying "The greatest thing you'll ever learn is just to love, and be loved in return."

The Duke agrees to finance it. That night, Christian visits Satine again and they fall in love. The next morning, the Duke makes a contract with Zidler that gives him the deeds to the Moulin Rouge, and that binds Satine to him and him alone.

Satine and Christian continue their affair under the Duke's nose, and Zidler finds out. As time goes on, The Duke is the only one who does not know about the affair. In the mean time, Christian and Satine make many excuses, and Satine manages to fend off all of the Duke's attempts to sleep with her.

One night, Satine is unable to meet with Christian because of her sickness, and he gets jealous. Satine decides that they must end it, because she is a courtesan, and Christian will get jealous of the Duke eventually. This is when Christian makes a special song just for the two of them that will always let them know that they love each other.

The next day, in rehearsal, one of the Moulin Rouge prostitutes purposely slips and says "penniless writer" when she refers to the "penniless sitar player." The Duke's jealousy flares, and he insists that the ending be changed so that the courtesan marries the Maharajah.

Satine attempts to seduce the Duke while the narcoleptic Argentinian sings about the dangers of falling in love with a woman who sells herself. Christian goes for a walk, and Satine sees him singing as she is with the Duke, and suddenly she feels she can't pretend to love the Duke anymore. The Duke tries to rape her, but Chocolat (Satine's protector or something like that - he caught her when she fell from her perch in the first club scene) realizes that something is wrong, and he stops the Duke.

The Duke decides that if Satine tries to remain with Christian, he will have Christian killed. When Zidler tells Satine this, Satine wants to run away with Christian. So Zidler informs Satine that her sickness is fatal, and that she should hurt Christian, tell him that she doesn't love him, in order to push him away and save him.

Satine goes to Christian, and says that she loves the Duke. Christian is horribly broken by this. On opening night, he sneaks in and finds Satine in her dressing room, and he tries to pay her. He says that he should pay her like all the other men who she made to believe that she loved them. Satine tries to make Christian leave, and just as he's about to be shot by The Duke's goon, Satine and Christian appear on stage, Christian taking the place of the unconscious Argentinian as the sitar player.

In the meantime, Toulouse overhears that the Duke is trying to kill Christian, and he tries to find some way to warn him. Christian throws the money to the ground, and announces that he is finished with his whore, and that she means nothing to him anymore. He starts to leave the theater.

Finally Toulouse, the magical Sitar, screams his line, "The greatest thing you'll ever learn is just to love, and be loved in return." Satine sings their secret song, and Christian runs back to her. The Duke's goon is about to shoot him, when Toulouse falls from the ceiling and kicks the gun from him. In the final majestic scene of Spectacular Spectacular, the many efforts of The Duke to kill Christian are thwarted by the actors, including Zidler.

The triumph is bittersweet, however, because as the curtains close and everyone is so happy, Satine begins her last coughing fit. She dies in Christian's arms, and tells him to live on, so that he might tell her story, and that he might always remember her.

It concludes with Christian still typing away one year in the future, explaining that famous line again, and then finally typing "The End."

NOT A SPOILER!!!!!!!

"The greatest thing you'll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return."

What do I say about this movie? How do I explain it without giving too much away?

It's beautiful.
It's artistic.
It's powerful.
It's magnificent.

It's a musical - I mean really, truly a musical, like Grease or The Sound of Music, where the songs tell parts of the story. Not like the things we call musicals today, that just happen to have lots of songs in them. Actually, I think if you combine The King and I, Velvet Goldmine, and Sweeney Todd, you might have some idea of what mood this movie conveys - but only some.

It is sometimes hilarious, sometimes glamorous, sometimes tragic. Some of it is very real, some is completely absurd - but that absurdity is part of the reality of that world: a night club in turn-of-the-century Paris.

It was brought to us by the director of Strictly Ballroom and Romeo + Juliet. The early scene where Christian falls in with the bohemians- or should I say, when "an unconscious Argentinean and a dwarf dressed as a nun" fall through Christian's roof - is every thing I've come to expect from Australian cinema, due in part to this director: colorful, flashy, and delightfully absurd.

There was another movie called Moulin Rouge, which I have not seen but I'm told is about the life of artist Henri Toulouse-Lautrec. This one is not. He's in it (played by John Leguizamo), but it's not about him.

It's about Satine (Nicole Kidman), a courtesan who wants to be an actress. Promos said, "All men wanted her; one man dared to love her." So it's also about that man: Christian (Ewan McGregor), a writer who came from London to Paris's Montmartre district to follow the bohemian lifestyle.

It's about beauty.
It's about freedom.
It's about truth.
Most of all, it's about love.

The singing was fantastic. Nicole Kidman should do more musicals, or at least sing more in her movies. (My husband adds that she should do more in her underwear. Along those lines, the CNN movie critic says that we should all be grateful that Ewan McGregor keeps his clothes on, but I tend to disagree.) I really hope that Ewan McGregor has quit smoking, otherwise he won't be able to sing like this much longer.

The songs, on the whole, are quite familiar - pop songs by Madonna, Queen, Elton John, Sting. Only they were changed enough to actually become part of the script rather than background music or gratuitous noise. A few extra words here, a change in the intonation there, and most importantly, the fact that the characters sang to each other and with each other. There were some original songs- the bit to the tune of that well-known can-can song, where they're explaining the plot of the play they're writing to The Duke (Richard Roxburgh), who they hope will give them money for production; and Satine's One Day I'll Fly Away, in which she sings of her dreams and how love doesn't fit into them. David Bowie's Nature Boy fits so perfectly as the opening and closing narrative that I thought it had been written just for the film; its mysterious tone and haunting melody remind me of the song of the Time Prophet from the Lexx episode "Brigadoom." Both are songs that I find difficult to sing but impossible to forget.

As far as the staging, it was always decorative, always colorful, always surreal. The occasional extra sparkles, the walking on clouds, and the singing moon lend just enough unreality to remind us that we're not watching the story occur as in most movies; rather, we are being told the story after it happened by Christian sitting at his typewriter making a novel of it.

The CNN movie critic complained that the pace was often so frantic that you couldn't take it all in, that important emotional moments were washed over in the shuffle. But in the primary scene that's like that, the main character is drugged, so that's probably how it looked to him. Heck, he was drugged and from England - that had to be how it looked to him! Generally, if the audience doesn't have time to absorb everything, it's because the characters don't either. How can we really get into it if we don't feel the same way they do? In most movies, this emotional connection is made through music and sound effects, but in a musical, you have to do it with the visuals.

There is so much more I'd like to say, but I can't, not when someone who hasn't seen it yet will read this. So I will finish with this:
I've never anticipated the release of a movie as much as I did this one, not even The Phantom Menace. I was not disappointed.

Tonight I went to see the Moulin Rouge.

Not the original of course, but the film, starring Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor.
I will spare the reader of any pain a review of the movie would provoke. Many are available. Suffice to say that I, who hate musicals of any kind; I, who was destined to hate the formulaic, (though Shakespearean) plot; absolutely loved it.

This is not the point.

The point is that during the movie, while the two characters are laughing like children at their love, two separate groups of people got up and left the theater.
Walking out of the movie I heard another person whine "I didn't hear that Lady Marmalade song ONCE in that whole movie!."

So when I went home, and heard on the news that a little girl was raped and killed in a small town, I couldn't help but draw similarities. People wonder why the news is so depressing.

No one likes to hear about love, because no one truly seems to have it.

I could rave about the plot, the direction, the way the songs were perfectly blended in this movie -- if others hadn't already done so.

But there are so many other things left to rave about. Let's start with the performances -- Ewan McGregor's tortured, idealistic writer, Nicole Kidman's cynical whore, only discovering real love in her final days, Richard Roxburgh's effete but still strangely chilling duke, and perhaps, best of all Jim Broadbent, as Zidler -- a mixture of exhibitionism, predatory avarice, and genuine, touching emotion. If he isn't nominated for a best supporting actor Oscar, there is no justice in the world.

There's the way surrealism shifts and twists and becomes almost normality

There's the way the movie pays homage, in fleeting glimpses, to both films and musicals gone by, in a Pratchettesque way -- a hint of Cabaret, a seasoning of Rocky Horror, a flavour of The Boyfriend whirled up with a generous helping of silent movie and Busby Berkeley, so you are never quite sure if it was intentional or not (but you suspect it is).

There's the audacity. How does anyone dare to make a genuine musical in this day and age, when the last truly successful one was more than 25 years ago?

And finally, there's one last thing. There's the... well the joke, almost. Moulin Rouge is celebrated as a musical for the 21st Century, one that the teens and early twenties can love and connect with -- and it's all that. But behind the glitz and the CGI effects and the clever camera angles, this is a musical for my generation, the mid-thirties to mid forties. It's no problem for us to seamlessly integrate those songs with the action -- they were the soundtrack of our youth. We yearned to fly away with Randy Crawford. We were Children of the Revolution with T-Rex we remember Bowie belting out the words, and believing that he was right, and we could be heroes, just for one day .With the exception of Diamonds are a Girl's Best Friend every last song comes from sometime between my childhood and my early twenties. And using them this way -- it's perfect.

So, teens, if your parents haven't seen this movie, nag them into it -- they'll adore it, I guarantee.

I’m not one who’s inclined to post a review when there are already three available, and all of them so well-written. But considering that this is one of the most polarizing movies I have ever seen in terms of people’s reactions, I feel the need to mention something about the other point of view that no one here has bothered to attest to yet.

The first time I saw this movie I hated it. I passionately, violently despised it. (For those of you who loved it, note that my declaring it the ‘first time’ I saw it implies that I saw it again, and that some change may have occurred in my thinking between viewings, and as a result you should not systematically downvote me yet for my sin of disparaging your favorite, revolutionary, unique piece of art … Just keep reading. Really. It’ll be worth it.)

The slaughter of ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ made me shiver. The cheesy revamping of every 80s love song known to man in ‘Elephant Love Medly’ made me nauseous, and the final metamorphosis into ‘I Will always Love You’ almost pushed me over the edge. Like A Virgin’ was an eye-clawing, breast-beating, retching kind of an exercise in self-torture.

But that was nothing compared with the ending. Satine’s breathy, pathetic, fading-in-and-out-of-the-screen efforts to come to terms with her own mortality made me cringe until the final, trite, overly dramatic, whiny write-a-story-so-I’ll-live-forever ending sent me gasping for air out of the blood-stained theatre and into the open street.

My friends were so repulsed that they sent the following email to our collective newsgroup with the subject ‘DO NOT SEE MOULIN ROUGE’ (the names have been abbreviated in order to protect the innocent; I'll give it away that I am 'D'):

Picture Em, B, E, D, Some Guy, and Z. They are sitting in that order left to right in a movie theatre. I forgot Some Guy's name, having just met him.

They are watching <bad french accent>The Moulin Rougggggge</bad french accent>

E whispers to B: "B, this movie..."
B: "Yes, E"
E: "It ... it's killing me. Killing me softly."

B and E break in to a remixed (badly) version of "Killing Me Softly"

Then Em leans over.

Em: "Be quiet guys."
E and B: "Why?"
Em: "Look, just stop. Collaborate and listen, Em's back with a brand new edition."

And the three of us break in to a remixed version of "Ice Ice Baby"

Then D, shaking turns to Z: "Z, I'm scared."

Z: "Of what?"

D: "E, B, and Em are acting like the movie!"

Z: "Well, whenever I feel afraid, I whistle a happy tune..."

And then Z starts singing that song from the beginning of "The King and I"

As D and her friend run screaming from the theatre.

-------

Now, that really didn't happen, but it could have. And that's just what happens in the movie "Moulin Rouge"

Stay away, very far away...

The lack of a single line of original dialogue in the entire bloody movie, suffice it to say, was a problem for us.

But the images, the beautiful, fading, half-shadowed/half-brilliant glimpses ... the dramatic professions of the love I feel I’m missing... all of the beauty I had lost behind the triteness refused to leave me alone.

In my daydreams at work, I watched the world pass through slowly tilting windmill blades to focus in on fuzzy, grey renderings of Christian, standing anxiously in the doorway of the hotel. I felt Satine crying in the bright white dress on the stage, and quietly singing after I am through with my whore to ask him to come back to her I love you. I saw the joy in Christian’s face and his smile as he screamed we should be lovers as they danced in the moonlight. Flashing images of the Roxanne tango in all of its rapture and all of its intensity stayed with me: Christian belting his anguish with all his might in the rain; the Argentinian grasping a lady’s thin wrists in a slowly expanding dance, shaking with rage; Satine gasping, whispering ‘no’.

...Instead of the obnoxious, breathy dialogue at the end of the movie I saw Christian, shaking, spots of blood on his collar, his hands tracing over and over and over Satine’s fragile face, sputtering with loss and incomplete.

I borrowed the soundtrack and listened to it over and over. I went to see it again because I couldn’t forget it and couldn’t remember enough. I went to the bathroom for the entirety of ‘Like a Virgin’ this time and made it through alright (there are some darker forces more powerful than love....) I smiled and smiled and smiled because it felt so wonderful to be able to believe in love.

That’s what Moulin Rouge gave me. It gave me the feeling I haven’t had in so long, and now it still won’t get out of my head. But this time I don’t care. I like watching the young lovers sing from far across the room come what may I will love you. I like watching the space between them -- though physically far -- drop to nothing in the wraps of their entirely public, private intimacy. I like believing in this sense of magic throughout my day. I like the ideas of freedom, beauty, truth and love.

This movie got under my skin. You love it or you hate it, and I went through both. But I will not deny it, now, that it is one of the most brilliant, cinematographically moving pieces of film-making I have ever seen, and that its haunting presence will not leave me for some time to come.

Thank goodness. I know I’d hate to lose it.

When I started reading longwinter's review I thought "Finally, someone who feels like I do about this pretentious piece of shit," but no, he turned to the dark side in the end, leaving me forced to review a movie that I couldn't even watch to the end, just in order to give some balance to this node. Unfortunately I didn't go to see Moulin Rouge in the cinema, otherwise I would have had the pleasure of walking out in public and tearing up my ticket in front of the ushers (who would probably have thought I was an idiot). I rented it and watched it at home.

There are only two other movies that I remember being unable to watch to the end, and I have watched a zillion movies. They were Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure (which I rented from the video store and brought back after half an hour - the video store clerk gave me another free of charge) and Dungeons and Dragons (too annoying to be funny, too badly acted to be exciting). Moulin Rouge is in pretty bad company, though I do acknowledge that many people found Bill and Ted funny for some reason.

After the first few minutes, and a long, impressive, stylish opening shot which flies through the dark Paris streets, zooming in on faces and out again over the buildings, I thought Moulin Rouge was going to be great. I even thought it was going to be pretty good after a few frenzied flashbacks through Ewan McGregor's character's memory, by way of introduction. But once the movie itself actually began, and the narcoleptic Argentinian fell through the ceiling to be followed closely by ten minutes of insane, epilepsy-inducing dialogue and cheesy musical slapstick, I found myself gaping in horror.

I asked the person I was watching it with, who had seen it before, "Is it all like this?" and she said that the tone did change in different scenes, but the style stayed pretty much the same. Still, I decided to wait and give it a chance. I sat through the cringeful "Smells like Teen Spirit" all-singing, all-dancing routine that introduces us to the Moulin Rouge itself. I sat through Nicole Kidman singing "Diamonds are a girl's best friend" while hundreds of men in suits drooled and grimaced. I gaped in even more horror as a bedroom farce unfolded between Kidman and McGregor and a gurning parody of a Duke which eventually ended up involving most of the cast so far performing a high-speed, amphetamine-fuelled synopsis of their proposed musical. Finally I couldn't take any more, and we turned it off.

Don't get me wrong. Moulin Rouge is a very stylish film - extremely stylish, just like Baz Luhrman's Romeo and Juliet was. In fact, that was my problem. It's all style and no substance. People have been going on and on in the preceding writeups about how the message of this movie is "Love conquers all", which I'm sure is a very worthy message, but I think it fails miserably to make this point, and if it does fail at this, then there is nothing else to recommend it. If I painted myself bright scarlet, glued a thousand sequins to my naked flesh, dyed my hair neon green and ran through the city with cymbals and a bugle screaming "LOVE CONQUERS ALL!!!! LOVE CONQUERS ALL!!!!!" then I'd probably get a lot of attention, but no one would love each other any more because of me. This movie is the same. I'm sure it got Baz Luhrman lots of praise and attention for being so innovative and so stylish, but there is no real feeling or love in the movie whatsoever. (I remind you that I stopped watching halfway, so feel free to tell me "Alan, you're so wrong, halfway through it totally changed, Terrence Malick took over the direction and they got Ian McKellen to do Ewan McGregor's part and it all took place in a remote Greek village, and dolphins and monkeys! Yeah!")

The cinematography that everyone raved about gave me a headache, and I've danced all night at raves with no problem so I'm not exactly photosensitive. The deliberately outrageous and grotesque acting didn't make me squeal with ironic pleasure, it just made me want to strangle that cracked-out Andrew Lloyd Webber who directed it, and the various clever plot devices of plays within plays which worked so well for Shakespeare were just boring and unoriginal. The self-consciously cheesy songs and meta-meta-postmodern ironic-oh-so-witty-bullshit dialogue just left me waiting and waiting for someone, anyone, to say anything real. Style without content is no good to anyone. Take away all the glitter and mad camerawork and screaming and running around, and you have a dull vaudeville plot with nothing to recommend it. And to anyone who says, "That's the whole point!" I can only say: If that really is the point, then I'm glad I didn't waste any more of my time with it.

So there you have it. Moulin Rouge: a big, shiny, glittery-painted, sweetly-perfumed, loudly-shouting turd. With a lollipop stick stuck in it. On a podium. Being praised by everyone. If you ask me, Baz Luhrman must be laughing his ass off.


Postscript - Rana just gave me this URL - http://www.bigempire.com/filthy/moulinrouge.html in which the Filthy Critic gives a review astonishingly like mine, only more vitriolic. I swear I didn't rip him off. Go read it!

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