Follow TV Tropes


Film / Moulin Rouge!

Go To

"Come what may, I will love you until my dying day."
Christian and Satine

Moulin Rouge! is a 2001 musical film, directed by Baz Luhrmann and starring Ewan McGregor and Nicole Kidman. The story is told through flashbacks from the point of view of Christian (McGregor), a young Englishman writing the story of his doomed affair with the star of the eponymous Parisian nightclub.

Flashback to 1899 where Christian, an earnest young poet, has left his Victorian London home and his overbearing father in order to live an intellectual life amongst the Bohemian revolutionaries of Paris's bawdy, colorful Montmartre district. Soon after his arrival, an unconscious Argentinean falls through his roof, quickly joined by a dwarf dressed as a nun...or, as he introduces himself, Henri Marie Raymond de Toulouse-Lautrec Montfa (John Leguizamo), painter, actor, and Bohemian revolutionary extraordinaire. He, along with the Argentinean (narcoleptic, as it turns out) and the rest of their theater troupe are in the flat above, rehearsing their musical spectacle which will, of course, revolutionize the artistic world as they know it—provided, of course, that they receive the patronage of Harold Zidler (Jim Broadbent), owner of the Moulin Rouge, the hottest nightclub-slash-brothel in Paris.

The Moulin is soon to be converted into a theater in order to launch a new career for Zidler's "Sparkling Diamond", Satine (Kidman), the club's highest-paid courtesan and star attraction. Zidler, in turn, is relying on the patronage of the odious Duke (Richard Roxburgh) whose only condition in signing away the fortune it will take to convert the Moulin into a theater is that Satine become his mistress. The Duke gets his courtesan, Zidler gets his theater, the Bohemians get their play, and Satine gets the respectable career she's always dreamed of. It's a perfect set-up, which is why it will all go horribly, inevitably wrong.

Christian wins over the Bohemians and—after their original librettist storms out in a jealous rage—is put in charge of writing their show, Spectacular Spectacular!. To celebrate, they take him out to the Moulin Rouge, on, as it happens, the same night of the Duke's introduction to (and first scheduled rendezvous) with Satine. There is an interesting misunderstanding, but Christian's fundamental innocence and the power of his (well, Bernie Taupin's) poetry win her over, leaving her as starry-eyed with him as he is with her—until, of course, it is revealed that he isn't actually the Duke. As the months pass—as the Moulin becomes a theater and the show comes together—it becomes increasingly evident that their mutual attraction is too strong to ignore. However, the Duke is far less buffoonish than he appears, and if he is crossed, in love or otherwise, there's no telling what lengths he'll go to to keep the new lovers apart...

The film is a wild mishmash of genres, kinetic editing and atmosphere, often compared to a Music Video for its use of Jitter Cam. It is also composed almost exclusively of Cover Versions of songs, though most of them have been rewritten into new styles. Madonna's "Like a Virgin" becomes a Busby Berkeley Number (sung by a man), for instance, and the film contains only one song which the audience has never heard before (which, in fact, was originally intended for Luhrmann's William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet). It is also one of the most triumphant examples of the First Law of Tragicomedies, taking it almost to Mood Whiplash territory; the bleak Framing Device of Christian at his typewriter switches quickly into a vibrant, almost cartoonish comedy before the inevitable spiral towards the Bittersweet / Downer Ending. Finally, it was the first movie musical to gain any sort of widespread popularity for a couple decades, and has helped launch the recent revival of the genre.

This movie has no relation to the biopic of the same. If you're looking for that, you'll find it here. A Screen-to-Stage Adaptation premiered in 2019.

The film provides examples of:

  • Absurd Altitude:
    • When all the top hats fly into the air, an exterior shot of the city shows them soaring up above the buildings.
    • After Zidler punches out the Duke, his gun flies out through a window and hits the Eiffel Tower.
  • Acceptable Breaks from Reality: The musical Anachronism Stew was so that modern audiences could better feel why the patrons of the Moulin Rouge loved the place as much as they did.
  • Adaptational Context Change: The U2 song "Pride" is turned from a celebration of the individual's role in effecting social justice to an appeal for a one-night stand.
  • An Aesop: At least two.
    • Christian's motto, which becomes the central theme: The greatest thing you'll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return.
    • The Unconscious Argentinian's far more cynical outlook that it's impossible to have genuine love with a prostitute, because when "love is for sale to the highest bidder there can be no trust," and jealousy will inevitably set in.
  • Aesop Collateral Damage: In a sense. Christian spends most of the film asserting that "love is like oxygen" and "all you need is love." Satine dies of consumption in order for the universe to teach him otherwise.
  • All Part of the Show:
    • Satine passing out and falling off the swing is played as this by Zidler. He teases the men in the audience that they've scared her off.
    • The climax of the film takes place at the opening night of Spectacular Spectacular. Christian's infiltration, his argument with Satine, their reconciliation, and their defeat of the Duke are all played as the courtesan choosing the sitar player over the maharajah in the end. The crowd goes wild for it.
  • All There in the Manual: Each of the courtesans at the Moulin Rouge has a specific name, along with a costume that reflects that name. Examples include French Maid, Petite Princess (a dwarf), Madame Fromage (a Big Beautiful Woman in clothing that suggests desserts), Travesty (which anyone who listens to Eddie Izzard will know is French for "transvestite", who wears a man's suit and top hat on the top of her body, and a can-can dress on the bottom), and Pearly Queen (who wears various expensive-looking items, such as furs and pearls).
  • Anachronism Stew: The film deliberately mixes period costumes with modern pop culture (a mix Luhrmann would later use in the 2013 version of The Great Gatsby), most notably with its...
  • Animal Motifs: Satine has a recurring motif of birds, from Zidler's nicknames for her including "duckling" and "gosling", her musical motif being "One Day I'll Fly Away", and a caged lovebird appearing in the foreground as she tells Zidler her intentions to escape with Christian only to have those hopes squashed as he reveals she's dying. The caged lovebird can also be seen in the last scene of the film outside Christian's apartment as he finishes writing the story of their love.
  • Arc Words:
    • "This is a story about beauty, freedom, truth, and above all things, love."
    • "The greatest thing you'll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return."
    • The lyrics of 'Come What May', both sung and spoken, in a rare example of an Arc Song.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: when The Duke returns and finds Christian holding Satine in his arms (she has just swooned for unrelated reasons), he is dismissive of the idea that the two of them are rehearsing:
    "You mean to say that, scantily clad, in the arms of another man, inside an elephant, that you were rehearsing?!"
    • The best part is that he emphasizes the "elephant" portion as though it is truly what seals the deal, ignoring the fact that (so far as the movie bothers to explain) Satine's house is simply done up like a giant elephant. This sets up the impression that he is an Upper-Class Twit.
  • Art Imitates Art: Several images (i.e. clowns, men in tuxedos with tutus) are taken from Henri de Toulouse Lautrec's paintings of the Moulin Rouge and nearby clubs.
  • Artistic Licence – Biology:
    • Someone suffering from the final stages of consumption would not be in any condition to sing, let alone be able to reach such high notes. (This is consistent with the source material; much literature and theatre of the period inflicted their heroines with tuberculosis, but reinterpreted said heroines' wasting sickness to "becomes attractively pale, thin and delicate-looking".)
    • Tuberculosis is contagious, meaning a lot of the people Satine came into contact with, especially Christian should have been at risk.
  • As Long as It Sounds Foreign: Native French speakers will note the mispronunciation of "moulin"; it is, in fact, pronounced the way it would be in English, and not as "mulan".
  • Attempted Rape: The Duke tries this on Satine, after it becomes clear that she loves Christian and not him.
  • Award-Bait Song: "Come What May", the big, melodramatic number serving as the film's ultimate theme, notable for being the sole original number among the film's score (ironically, it wasn't eligible for an Oscar for Best Original Song due to it being originally made for another movie).
  • Berserk Button: "It's not that I'm a jealous man, I just DON'T LIKE OTHER PEOPLE TOUCHING MY THINGS!"
  • Beta Couple: Nini-Legs-in-the-Air and the Narcoleptic Argentinean.
  • Blood from the Mouth: A sign of Satine's tubercolosis.
  • Bowdlerization: The cancan dancers depicted in the movie did not wear split underwear (which was the style at the time) in order to keep the film ratings-friendly.
  • Break His Heart to Save Him: The Trope Namer. In order to drive Christian away so the Duke can't take his jealous rage out on him, Zidler urges Satine to tell him she never loved him. It breaks his heart only too well, but it fails to keep him away from the Moulin Rogue.
  • Bystander Syndrome: The other performers of Spectacular! Spectacular! can do nothing but mourn for Satine after she dies, not taking any time to comfort Christian other than giving him space.
  • The Cameo:
    • David Wenham as the Bohemians' Drag Queen librettist Audrey who is almost immediately replaced by Christian.
    • Kylie Minogue shows up for about a minute as the Green Fairy.
    • Tara Morice, who played Fran in Baz Luhrmann's Strictly Ballroom, cameos as a prostitute in the opening sequence.
  • Camp: And how. Derivative, archetypal plot? Check. Large Ham villains? Check. Large Ham non-villains in a World of Ham where everyone breaks out into song at regular intervals? Check. Ham-to-Ham Combat? Check. Soundtrack predominantly composed of Softer and Slower Cover versions of pop tracks? Check. Costuming? Lavish. Aesthetics? Fantastic. Music? Amazing. Disney Acid Sequence? Full of them. Also, the director of the film (Baz Luhrmann) is a Camp Straight.
  • Chorus Girls: The Diamond Dogs, both for in-universe performances and for the movie.
  • Concepts Are Cheap: Christian spends the film chasing after abstract concepts. The movie does very little to explore what these ideas mean in the first place. He believed that because he and Satine believe in Freedom, Art and Love, the universe has to bend around them and that he never has to make any tough choices. Also, it doesn't ever seem to occur to him that these concepts aren't always compatible with each other. For instance, for his play to succeed, he would have to avoid falling in love with the investor's love interest. He also doesn't respect Satine's freedom to love someone other than him, seeing her attempt to break up with him as a result of being manipulated the whole time. He also spends the whole movie asserting that "love is like oxygen" and "all you need is love." and Satine dies of consumption, a disease that primarily attacks the lungs.
  • Concert Climax: "Come What May (reprise)"; the song was intended to be this for the Show Within a Show (before the Duke nixed it) but when Christian and Satine reconcile onstage and everyone else (led by the Bohemians) stand up for their ending, the song becomes the climax for the movie as a whole.
  • Concert Kiss: Christian and Satine's kiss at the climax of Spectacular, Spectacular.
  • Creative Closing Credits: The end credits were actually printed onto paper that was rolled in front of a camera. The sequence is so long it required two sheets to fit everyone in. There's a deliberately accentuated line where the sheets were joined together.
  • Cruel to Be Kind: Satine breaks up with Christian because if she doesn't, the Duke will kill him. Plus she's dying of consumption.
  • Death by Irony: Played for Drama. Christian spends most of the film asserting that "love is like oxygen." Satine dies of consumption, drowning in her own blood.
  • Died in Your Arms Tonight: Satine passes away of consumption in Christian's arms in front of the other Moulin Rouge performers.
  • Dies Wide Open: Satine dies with her eyes open in Christian's arms.
  • Disney Acid Sequence: Quite a few, but especially the Green Fairy absinthe sequence.note 
  • Downer Ending: Since the movie opens with the main character sorrowfully saying "The woman I love...d is... dead", it's not hard to guess where this will go. Paying close attention in the opening reveals it's even worse—the Moulin Rouge got shut down after events of the main story.
  • Dramatically Missing the Point: Christian walks out before the finale of El Tango de Roxanne, depressed at the thought of Satine sleeping with the Duke. He doesn't realize that the Argentinian is not playing Christian, but the Duke, and that Satine's death is inevitable.
  • Easily Forgiven: Despite Christian slut-shaming her in front of an entire audience, Satine doesn't see this as crossing the line when it comes to breakup etiquette. And although we don't understand Christian's rationale for getting back together with Satine, he overlooks the fact that she was the one who broke his heart.
    The Nostalgia Chick: Singing fixes everything!
  • Evil Desires Innocence: The Duke switches to this motive halfway through the musical number "Like A Virgin" when Satine is characterized like a virgin. However, rather than seeing her supposed innocence as alluring or beautiful (as was expected) - he is thrown into lustful rapture wanting to defile it.
  • Fauxdian Slip:
    • By Nini about the Show Within a Show:
      Nini Legs-In-The-Air: "This ending's silly. Why would the courtesan go for the penniless writer? Whoops! I mean sitar player."
    • Immediately followed by a true Freudian Slip:
      The Duke: Why shouldn't the courtesan go for the maharajah?
      Christian: Because she doesn't love you! [dead silence while everyone stares] Him... him... she doesn't love...she doesn't love him...
  • First Law of Tragicomedies: As mentioned above, it starts cheerful (almost absurdly so) before beginning a slow descent.
  • Fisher Kingdom: At the beginning of the film (with the Moulin Rouge closed), Monmartre has become a grey, desolate place. One flashback later and it is colorful and lively.
  • Foregone Conclusion: The opening narration reveals that Satine dies by the end of the story. Much of the tragedy and drama comes from the fact that Christian and the Duke, her rival love interests, have no reason to suspect this is coming.
  • Fluffy Fashion Feathers: A few outfits, such as the skirt in the "Pink Diamonds" dress.
  • Framing Device: The story starts with Christian at his typewriter, finally carrying out Satine's last request — that he immortalize their story in writing — and the movie is an extended Flashback.
  • Gay Paree: The wild artistic and sexual shenanigans of the Montmartre District à la fin du siècle.
  • Graceful Loser: Double Subverted. The duke begins to walk away when it seems that he will never have Satine, and then he attempts to shoot at them. Once he is punched in the face by Zidler, this causes him to leave.
  • Ham-to-Ham Combat: The "Like a Virgin" scene, where the Duke and Zidler constantly vie to see who can be the loudest/most over-the-top/silliest.
  • Heel–Face Turn: A small one. In the finale, Nini is one of the courtesans who helps prevent Warner from killing Christian, suggesting that she might feel guilty about revealing his and Satine's affair.
  • He Who Must Not Be Heard: Warner, the Duke's bodyguard. His gun is more articulate than he is.
  • Heroic Bystander: The courtesans and bohemians get the chance to save the day in the finale. Toulouse swings from the rafters and knocks the gun from Warner's hand; Nini uses her high kicks to knock Warner upside the head and keep him from recovering the weapon; the Argentinian clocks him with a door; and the sitar player brains him with his instrument. It's Petite Princess, though, who is the most heroic: she climbs to the top of the stage and, just as Warner is about to fire, drops a sandbag onto his head, making him miss and sending the pistol flying.
  • Hidden Depths:
    • Satine seems to be a shallow material diva in the beginning, but falling in love with Christian shows there is more to her.
    • The Duke as well. Though initially characterized as a Harmless Villain, he's quickly revealed to be anything but. He also seems genuinely hurt by the fact that Satine isn't interested in him. Finally, he's the first person on the cast to see Satine's death coming.
  • Historical Domain Character: Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec is a major character, but composer Erik Satie also features as one of the Bohos and composes the music for "Spectacular! Spectacular!"
  • How We Got Here: The movie starts off with Christian mourning the loss of Satine before he writes the story of the events revolving around his time in Moulin Rouge and his love affair with Satine ending with her death.
  • "I Want" Song: Satine's first conversation with Zidler lets viewers know that that she wants to become a "real actress" with "a real show in a real theater, [and] a real audience..." instead of the burlesque dancer and courtesan she currently works as. Later she sings a wistful rendition of "One Day I'll Fly Away" expounding on her desire to outgrow the seedy Parisian underbelly and her unfulfilled dreams of a better life.
    One day I'll fly away
    Leave all this to yesterday
    ...Why live life from dream to dream
    And dread the day when dreaming ends...
  • Innocent Innuendo:
    • While they are dancing—Toulouse has promised Christian a "private" meeting with Satine, in order to show her the script, while Satine believes that he is the Duke.
      Christian: Toulouse said we could—do it in private!
      Satine: Did he?
      Christian: (flustered) Yes, you know...a private...poetry reading.
      Satine: Ohhhh, poetry. (coquettishly) Ooh, I love a little poetry after supper.
      [It is an innuendo that continues (one-sidedly) into the rendezvous itself.]
    • "Talent" is used as a reference to... something else.
  • In Love with the Mark: Satine originally pursued seducing Christian (or rather, The Duke, but a mix-up complicated things) solely for business purposes, but then genuinely fell in love with him.
  • I Should Write a Book About This: The film is book-ended by Christian writing a book about his and Satine's story.
  • It Makes Sense in Context: In-Universe The movie invokes this by cutting between the typewriter and the scene.
    I had come to write about [...] love. There was only one problem: I had never been in love! Luckily, right at that moment an unconscious Argentinean fell through my roof. He was quickly joined by a dwarf dressed as a nun.
  • Jukebox Musical: The soundtrack uses pre-existing songs from various artists rather than a single artist or band's work. The only exception is "Come What May", although even that was originally written for Baz Lurhmann's Romeo + Juliet.
  • Karma Houdini: Nini suffers no consequences for giving away Satine and Christian's affair. Though she's apparently out of job with everyone else by the time Christian starts writing his book.
    • The Duke himself. While he doesn't get to keep Satine, he doesn't really suffer much in the end. In fact, he manages to exact Disproportionate Retribution against everyone, as it is implied that he did follow through with his threat and closed down the Moulin Rouge.
  • Large Ham:
    • The movie is (also) an endless ham parade, but Jim Broadbent and Richard Roxburgh take the whole cake. They even fight over it during the "Like A Virgin" number.
    • Extra credit goes to the conductor at the beginning of the film, who leads the "orchestra" through the 20th Century Fox theme and the opening credits. He doesn't say a word, but boy, does he gesticulate!
  • Leitmotif: Many. Satine's is "One Day I'll Fly Away", Christian's is "Nature Boy" (and "Your Song"). Love's theme is, naturally, "Come What May". And so on.
    • "Come What May" is also the theme of forgiveness and faith in love, not just love itself. It's mentioned by the characters themselves and that's why she sings it at the climax of the film, in order to beg for his forgiveness.
    • It could be argued that Satine and Christian have two leitmotifs or possibly even more than that. "Sparkling Diamonds" is the song that represents Satine's life as a courtesan and "Your Song" represents Christian's one-sided love. When it is sung in a duet in "Elephant Love Medley", it symbolizes Satine returning his love.
    • "El Tango de Roxanne" is this for practically every major dramatic scene in the movie, whether you realize it or not. Next time you watch it, see if you can notice a faint tango rhythm underscoring some of the darker scenes.
  • Locked Out of the Loop: The Duke and Christian, and Satine for a while, are not told that she is dying of consumption.
  • Magic Music:
    • "Your Song" made Satine fall in love with Christian.
    • Also makes The Duke fall in love with Satine.
  • The Man in the Moon: Appears during the 'Your Song' and 'Elephant Love Medley' sequences, where he is voiced by Placido Domingo (on the soundtrack recording it's Alessandro Safina that you hear, though).
  • Mating Dance: The major beat of Satine seducing the Duke is paralleled by an incredibly dramatic tango rendition of "Roxanne".
  • Meaningful Name: My bodyguard name is Warner. You've been warned!
  • Melodrama: Done spectacularly right. It fits all the requisites for the melodrama genre: orchestraic music and songs to accompany the action (Victorian melodrama), simplistic yet exaggerated character archetypes (Christian is the Naïve Newcomer, Satine the Hooker with a Heart of Gold, the Duke is the Villain, etc), the story plays up on emotion more than clever plot twists, most obstacles are minor but played up by the characters as insurmountable mountains, the story is an internal affair between a few characters (a Love Triangle between an evil rich suitor and idealistic poor suitor for a tragic ill girl) in a set location (the Moulin Rouge), there's an aristocratic villain, etc. And it manages to be engaging for modern audiences due to its Framing Device and shameless, balls-to-the-walls energy, stylization, and passion.
  • Minor Character, Major Song: The Narcoleptic Argentinian, who is basically a walking joke for most of the film at this point, gets the absolutely epic arrangement of "El Tango de Roxanne." He doesn't do much afterwards, either.
  • Mirror Character: Christian may be a penniless romantic and the Duke an aristocratic villain, but they both fall in love with a High-Class Call Girl, but feel entitled to have her based on their feelings and what they think they can give her (Christian can give her love, the Duke can give her money). Both become very possessive and jealous over her, and react horribly when she rejects them. The Duke tries to rape her, while Christian rather brutally slut-shames her in front of everyone they know.
  • Mood Lighting: The beginning of the movie is dully-colored. When the comedy starts, the colors are brilliant and the lighting is bright. When the drama begins, the main colors are black and white (to spoken and daylight scenes) and red and blue (for the musical and nighttime bits). After the "Hindi Sad Diamonds" it comes again brightly colored until the end of "Come What May (finale)" when goes again all black, white, red and blue. Finally, it ends, with normal daylight colors.
  • Mood Whiplash:
    • The movie starts out in a Crapsack World, goes straight into lightheartedly cartoonish antics once the flashbacks start, and the film thereafter is a slow decline into its Downer Ending finale.
    • The song rearrangements are always whimsical or loving... right up to El Tango de Roxanne, which begins with laughs before developing overtones of real violence (Nini appears to be in pain when the Argentinian grabs her), and ends with the Argentinian miming slitting her throat.
  • Mushroom Samba: The entire Absinthe sequence. (Absinthe was notorious for its hallucinogenic properties at the time, and taking it smack dab in the middle of the Moulin Rouge's busiest hour creates for a really colorful trip.)
  • Never My Fault: Christian knew going in that Satine was a High-Class Call Girl who has to seduce other men to make ends meet. She warns him about it many times and asks if he's all right with it, which he often assures her he is. Nevertheless, he feels no qualms about Slut-Shaming Satine in front of everyone.
  • No Name Given:
    • No names are ever given for the characters in the troupe's play; they are simply the Courtesan, the Penniless Sitar Player, and the Maharajah.
    • This also applies to many of the side characters—the Narcoleptic Argentinean and the Doctor (no, not that one) being prominent examples.
  • Not Even Bothering with the Accent: Except for Toulouse, none of the characters have a French accent. They all seem to speak the Queen's French.
  • Not Good with Rejection: Because Christian does not fully understand the implications of romantic relationships, when Satine breaks up with him, he learns to hate the idea of love and plans on getting revenge.
  • One Dialogue, Two Conversations: When Christian and Satine are talking in the Elephant. He's trying to read her his poetry, while she thinks he's talking about sex.
    Satine: A little supper? Maybe some champagne?
    Christian: I'd rather just, um.... get it over and done with.
    Satine: Oh! Very well. Then why don't you... [lies on the bed] come down here. Let's get it over and done with.
    Christian: Actually, I'd prefer to do it standing.
    Satine: [standing quickly] Oh!
    Christian: You don't have to stand, I mean... It's sometimes... it's quite long. And I'd like you to be comfortable. It's quite modern, what I do, and it may feel a little strange at first, bu.. but I think if you're open, then... then you might enjoy it.
    Satine: [rattled but still professional] I'm sure I will.
  • Only in It for the Money: One of the two major themes on sex and romance in the film, exemplified by "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend." As "creatures of the underworld" both Satine and Zidler are aware that love is a luxury they can't afford.
  • Plot-Induced Illness: Satine's illness takes hold at the worst possible time, just as she and Christian reunite during the climax.
  • Rape as Drama: The Duke attempts to force himself on Satine when she refuses to go through with the seduction at the Gothic Tower.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: Nicole Kidman fractured two ribs and hurt her knee while rehearsing, so in a few scenes she's shot from the chest up only to hide that she was actually in a wheelchair.
  • Rearrange the Song:
    • El Tango De Roxanne, based on The Police's "Roxanne" with music from Mariano Mores' "Tanguera".
    • Madonna's "Like a Virgin" done as a Gilbert and Sullivan number, complete with Busby Berkeley choreography. And Gilbert is one of the singers!
    • Queen's "The Show Must Go On", the opera version!
    • Hell, the movie rearranges ITS OWN SONG, "Come What May," from the soft, romantic love song to the more operatic, melodramatic clip of it the characters in Spectacular Spectacular sing.
  • Recycled In Space:
    • Moulin Rouge is the Disney Acid Sequence remix of La Traviata, which itself is La Dame aux Camellias AS AN OPERA!
    • Moulin Rouge also has elements of La Bohème (Scènes de la vie de bohème AS AN OPERA!) and the Orpheus myth.
    • Not to exclude at all the fact that Spectacular Spectacular, and therefore the plot of the film itself, is obviously taken from an ancient Sanskrit play called The Little Clay Cart.
  • Reprise Medley: A rather epic example: "Come What May", after Toulouse reveals the truth about Christian's life being in danger, morphs into a recapitulation and dueling medley of most of the movie's main themes, with "The Show Must Go On", "Your Song", "I'll Fly Away", "Children of the Revolution", and even a bit of "The Pitch" (the part about the "sitar player's secret song") all showing up.
  • Rich Suitor, Poor Suitor: The Duke (rich) vs. Christian (poor) for the affections of Satine. This conflict is mirrored in the Show Within a Show, between an evil maharajah and a penniless sitar player for the affections of a beautiful courtesan.
  • Scenery Porn: It didn't win the Academy Awards for Art Direction for nothing! Luhrmann even said that when the Elephant Room set had to be dismantled after filming wrapped, it was really heartbreaking.
  • Secretly Dying: Oh, Satine... We as the audience learn about her fate before she and most others do, so it's not a matter of if she'll die, but when.
  • Showgirl Skirt: The "Pink Diamonds" dress has a skirt of feathers that just wraps halfway around the waist.
  • The Show Must Go On: Despite love triangles, narcolepsy, assassins and consumption. Not to mention a cover of the Queen song.
  • Show Within a Show: "Spectacular Spectacular!" If you follow the opening of the movie, it's really a movie depicting a stage performance of a movie about a man singing about a man writing the story of his involvement in a musical about a man whose involvement in a musical mirrors the writer's.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: Starts off very idealistically, then slowly slides toward cynicism. It reaches Crapsack World levels when you realize their reconciliation DESTROYS the lives of EVERYONE we meet in the film (we know from the opening/ending that the Duke closes the Moulin Rouge).
  • Sliding Scale of Silliness vs. Seriousness: The film could be considered the perfect representation of this scale because it begins Serious, goes Silly for a long time and then, the second act smashes onto Seriousness.
  • Slut-Shaming: The rather infamous "I have paid my whore!" scene from the end of the film, complete with throwing money on the stage by her fallen body in full view of the in-story audience.
  • Snow Means Death: It's snowing when Satine dies.
  • Standard Snippet: The Cancan Song (or technically, "Galop Infernal" from "Orpheus in the Underworld") is not used for the actual Can-Can performance (which is set to a medley by Fatboy Slim instead) but forms part of "The Pitch" where the cast are presenting the idea of "Spectacular Spectacular" to the Duke.
  • Stepford Smiler: Satine in "The Show Must Go On".
  • The Stinger: After the end credits there's a set of cards depicting the Arc Words "This story is about beauty, freedom, truth, and above all things, love."
  • Stocking Filler: Satine wears garters for the "poetry reading"
  • Suddenly Shouting: The Argentinian is prone to this, but Christian also does it once.
    • When the Duke does it, you realize that he's no longer just a campy buffoon, but is seriously dangerous.
  • Thematic Series: This movie forms The Red Curtain Trilogy along with Strictly Ballroom and William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet. All films were directed by Lurhmann.
  • Unproblematic Prostitution: Deconstructed. Being a working girl at the Moulin Rouge looks like a fun and glamorous life — except that the girls have very little power and control over their own destinies.
  • Viewers Are Geniuses: Satine's desire to be a "real actress" being taken seriously relies on audiences understanding the cultural and historical connotations of her era. In the turn of the century Europe, "real" acting was only viewed by polite society: opera, ballet, stage plays, or maybe that newfangled "cinema." If you couldn't bring your deeply conservative and prudish great aunt to come see it, it wasn't legitimate. Meanwhile, Satine does strip teases and burlesque numbers for horny men in a brothel. It's today's equivalent of a porn star wanting to become a Hollywood actress, or a stripper wanting to become a ballet dancer.
  • World Half Empty: Played With. Aside from being an example of Mood Whiplash and Fisher Kingdom, the contrast between the opening of the movie and the flashback illustrates these tropes. First the audience is shown Montmarte as a bleak and desolate place, with its inhabitants doped up on absinthe and various other drugs, while a priest stands outside the entrance warning the viewer not to enter "this village of sin." Then when everything flips to the colorful, happy, lively Montmartre, some of the same characters are seen again dancing, singing, and playing music as "children of the revolution". An implication that can be drawn from this (beyond that the district's fortunes and happiness depend upon Satine's life) is that neither this nor World Half Full is completely correct by itself, that the real Montmartre was a mix of the two, or at least depended on point of view and one's experiences there.
  • Wrote a Good Fake Story: Christian is caught with Satine by her prospective patron the Duke. Christian claims they're collaborating on a play for the Duke to finance and improvises a pitch with his Bohemian friends. The Duke ends up liking the idea, and Christian writes an epic musical about India, mostly so that he and Satine can have their love affair under the Duke's nose.


Video Example(s):


Green Fairy

The bohemians take absinthe, nicknamed "the green fairy", and start hallucinating an actual green fairy.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (8 votes)

Example of:

Main / AnthropomorphicVice

Media sources: