Australian Screen

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Moulin Rouge! (2001)

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clip Love education content clip 3

Original classification rating: M. This clip chosen to be PG

Clip description

Satine (Nicole Kidman) tells Christian (Ewan McGregor) she cannot afford to fall in love. Christian believes that love is everything.

Curator’s notes

Moulin Rouge! uses songs from many different eras to convey its messages about love and give the film a timeless quality. When Satine says love is a luxury she cannot afford, Christian speaks and sings lines from (or adaptations of) 'Love is Like Oxygen’ (1978) by 70s glam rockers Sweet, 'Love is a Many-Splendored Thing’ (1955), 'Up Where We Belong’ (from An Officer and a Gentleman, 1982), 'All You Need is Love’ (1967) by The Beatles, 'I Was Made For Lovin’ You’ (1979) by Kiss, 'One More Night’ (1985) by Phil Collins, U2’s 'Pride (In the Name of Love)’ (1984) and 'Don’t Leave Me This Way’ (1975). Ewan McGregor and Nicole Kidman performed their own singing in Moulin Rouge.

Teacher’s notes

provided by The Le@rning FederationEducation Services Australia

This clip shows Christian, a love-struck writer, stealing a private moment with Satine, a courtesan, on the rooftops of the Moulin Rouge to convince her of the power of love. To counter Satine’s belief that she cannot afford to fall in love with him, Christian speaks and sings lines from popular love songs. The lyrics, and Satine’s more pragmatic responses, create a variously paced musical score. Christian’s passion for Satine is obvious, as is her reluctance to risk her livelihood by falling for a penniless writer.

Educational value points

  • This clip exemplifies how Luhrmann uses song lyrics to drive the story of Christian’s (Ewan McGregor) profound and ultimately tragic love for Satine (Nicole Kidman). Christian declares his feelings using the words of songs from different eras and genres and Satine sings her answers. The song lyrics support Christian’s romanticism, but Satine’s pragmatic responses reveal how, as a courtesan who is financially dependent on her lover, she has a different view of love.
  • A common theme in literature is that of ill-fated lovers who are doomed by tragic circumstances never to be together. Despite Christian’s idealism and his belief that 'all you need is love’ and 'love is like oxygen’, in Satine’s world, corruption, exploitation and poverty work against the purity of love. In declaring his love for Satine, Christian is unaware that his time with her will be cut short by her untimely death.
  • All musicals use songs and a musical score to tell a story. However, this clip illustrates how Luhrmann has created an innovative and contemporary interpretation of the genre. While retaining the essence of the musical, Luhrmann combines elements of opera, popular music from different eras, cabaret, Broadway, Hollywood and Bollywood to fuse different times and to depict the exuberance, intrigue and seediness of the fantastical world of the Moulin Rouge.
  • Various film elements contribute to the drama and fantasy of Moulin Rouge!. In the clip, lighting creates the night-world the characters inhabit, with contrasts made between the red lights synonymous with Satine’s life as a courtesan and the white lights that represent the purity of Christian’s love. The Bollywood-like set features a curtain-framed sedan chair atop a sculpture of a large elephant, around which Christian chases Satine, reciting song lyrics.
  • This clip illustrates the intertextuality that is an intrinsic element of Moulin Rouge!. The film draws on operatic tragedies such as La Traviata, in which Violetta, a young courtesan, is in love with Alfred, a nobleman. Violetta is dependent upon the Baron, her benefactor, and like Satine she dies of tuberculosis. Similarly, in La Boheme a Bohemian poet, Rodolfo, is in love with Mimi, who dies in his arms. The legend of Orpheus informs Christian’s descent into the underworld.

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australianscreen is produced by the National Film and Sound Archive. By using the website you agree to comply with the terms and conditions described elsewhere on this site. The NFSA may amend the 'Conditions of Use’ from time to time without notice.

All materials on the site, including but not limited to text, video clips, audio clips, designs, logos, illustrations and still images, are protected by the Copyright Laws of Australia and international conventions.

When you access australianscreen you agree that:

  • You may retrieve materials for information only.
  • You may download materials for your personal use or for non-commercial educational purposes, but you must not publish them elsewhere or redistribute clips in any way.
  • You may embed the clip for non-commercial educational purposes including for use on a school intranet site or a school resource catalogue.
  • The National Film and Sound Archive’s permission must be sought to amend any information in the materials, unless otherwise stated in notices throughout the Site.

All other rights reserved.

ANY UNAUTHORISED USE OF MATERIAL ON THIS SITE MAY RESULT IN CIVIL AND CRIMINAL LIABILITY.

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