Analysis – Moulin Rouge! (2001): How has Baz Luhrman used film techniques to make Moulin Rouge! interesting

Baz Luhrman, the director, uses different techniques to convey images to his audience. An example of these is mise en scene, cinematography and editing to draw you into his film; the use of this makes a great story to a film about love. The setting of this love story is a small village in Paris, France and here is the “Moulin Rouge”, a nightclub of “midnight pleasures”.

Baz Luhrman uses Mise en scene, the composition of setting and subject like properties, acting and lighting is used to great effect. Examples of this is Christians attic we see the subject surrounded in paper, bottles, clothes, candles, dust and dirt with Christians head in his arms. The lighting on him is a saturated blue light and the detail of the typewriter, his vest, beard, greasy hair, more bottles, the windmill and himself in despair. This is different after we travel back in time to see Christian clean, neat, tidy and happy, his attic is clean, white and there is a clean typewriter. The two different compositions convey the message that Christian’s life has deteriorated disastrously since Satine died.

Cinematography, the capturing of a mise en scene on a film, focuses on use of camera: shot, frame, lens, film stock, and lighting. An example of this is in “Moulin Rouge” when the camera zooms across Paris and into Christian’s bedroom through the vibrant scenes of Montmartre. This shot will have required CGI (computer generated images) and a model of Paris together with a camera on a track to move very quickly past the scenery, this is called a dolly shot. Another example of cinematography is zooming; the camera zooms at an unreal pace to focus us on the main characters and their feelings. For example, when the story goes back in time very fast past Paris to the station, we see fast flashes of Christian’s father and his emotions zoomed. Another one is close-up when he says “sin”.

An important point comes up in the narrative of the voice over. A close-up shot focuses on the issue of Christian’s father not wanting him to go to Paris. In addition, the fact that Christian was going to write about truth and love when it hit him, he has “never been in love” is important to him as a writer. The message that Christian was enthusiastic and happy a year earlier is conveyed through the camera work.

Baz Luhrman also uses Editing, the combination of shots to make a sequence to convey the director’s messages in the most effective way, is maximised in “Moulin Rouge”. An example of this is when we are given many pictures of the “Moulin Rouge”; we see the dancers, the men in suits, the owner, the leading characters, the skyline, all mixed together with different kinds of music. Fast cuts showing the windmill in black and white, dancers in colour, Harold Ziddler, Moulin Rouge and music with voice-overs. Also you have the classic film star pose of Nicole Kidman as “Satine” with the cigarette holder, she is also lit half light and half shadowed in black and white to contrast with the saturate colour all around her.

Also uses special effects when Christian gets involved in the play and starts singing with a full orchestral accompaniment. This tells us that Christian, in a way, has magic powers but also reminding us that this film is eccentric, over the top and unrealistic. Another special effect is when Christian first drinks the hallucinatory absinth, the special effect of Kylie Minogue as a green fairy appears, she flies past the screen and writes the words “truth”, “beauty”, “freedom” and “love”, again this is telling you that the film is not realistic. Powerful green lighting is washed over to show them falling into the underworld of “night time pleasures”. The special effects of Harry Ziddler flying, animated, back flips, high speed dancing and Christian confused singing the wrong song tells you that the “Moulin Rouge” is a fast and exciting club to go to.

In my conclusion of the film “Moulin Rouge” by Baz Luhrman is that it is a clever film that combines exciting and smart uses of mise en scene, cinematography, editing and special effects. For example the special effects on the fairy flying out from the bottle of absinth as they drink it and all the zoom shots going into Montmartre. In my opinion I think the film is good for special effects and technology, personally though I didn’t like, I found it boring but that is my opinion but overall on making the film it is good.

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