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Film / Moulin Rouge (1952)

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"Love is a state of confusion in which the victim can not distinguish between spiritual aspiration, carnal desire, and pride of ownership."

Moulin Rouge is an Best Picture-nominated biopic made in 1952, directed by John Huston and starring José Ferrer and Zsa Zsa Gabor. It's much less acid sequence and more Tragic Hero, showing the life and work of Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec in fin de siècle Paris, and the love he tries to find.

Contrary to belief, this movie has no relation to Moulin Rouge!, the 2001 musical.


  • Book Ends: Toulouse-Lautrec falls down a staircase as a young man, crippling him; in the end, he falls down a staircase in an absinthe-induced panic attack, and dies.
  • Childhood Friend Romance: Henri had a very good chance of marrying his childhood sweetheart until the accident which crippled him, at which point she couldn't stand the sight of him, which is sad, because he just looked like this.
    • According to his Wikipedia article he also may have suffered from overgrown genitals. This could be a good thing or a bad thing depending on how overgrown they were.
  • Dark Reprise: Somewhat different, in that the song Jane Avril sings is lighter than her first one, but is less emotionally resonant and more hollow. Even more appropriately, at the end, as Toulouse-Lautrec dies misunderstood, the dancers from his happy days at the Moulin reappear before him one last time to say goodbye—though they imply they'll meet again in heaven.
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  • Deadpan Snarker: Henri, when he's not belligerently angry or full of Wangst.
    Jane Avril: Oh Henri, why couldn't you be tall and handsome?
  • Downer Ending: Toulouse-Lautrec dies, while his parents and his contemporaries don't understand his art, or anything he's ever done while alive, and he just misses—by HOURS—the love of his life, now gone forever. Sadly, this is Truth in Television, as it really did end this way for him.
  • Gay Paree: Averted, in that the presented Paris is historically accurate, with the very real danger of being mugged, prostitutes being picked up by the police, and streets that stink to high heaven from the products manufactured there.
  • Good Costume Switch: Not 'good', per se, but when Jane Avril goes from singing in the Moulin to performing on stage, she wears a far more respectable outfit, much to the disappointment of those who want to remember her as the queen of the tease.
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  • Interrupted Suicide: Interrupted by Toulouse-Lautrec himself, as he decides to devote himself to art, and in an uplifting scene, he shuts off the gas and throws open the window, letting the morning light stream in.
  • I Resemble That Remark!: "I do not have a nose like that! I submit it for anyone: do I have a nose like that?" (He does.)
  • Ironic Echo: "There's the most divine creature waiting for me..."
  • I Was Quite a Looker: A very depressing scene in which Toulouse-Lautrec meets La Goulue, now drunken and on the streets.
  • Kissing Cousins: Henri's father laments that it's his fault Henri's system is so frail, as his wife is his first cousin in order to keep the family line pure.
  • Maurice Chevalier Accent: Toulouse-Lautrec speaks with a French accent, which is odd, considering none of the other characters in this Parisian setting speak with an audible French accent.
  • Montages: Specifically, a Time Passes Montage, Photo Montage and Hard-Work Montage rolled into one, with Toulouse-Lautrec's paintings, and a Drunken Montage once Toulouse-Lautrec goes on absinthe.
  • Rebel Prince: Henri refuses to take a title like his father, believing that they are out of style.
  • Sassy Black Woman: Aicha, the Algerian, for the one or two scenes she's in; when kicked in the behind, she kicks right back, harder, and tells La Goulue "I hope you split your breeches, kid!"
  • Snicket Warning Label: It's possible to get a Happy Ending if you miss/ignore the very end... and beginning.
  • Thematic Theme Tune: "It's April Again", sung by Jane Avril (the unforgettable Zsa Zsa Gabor).
  • They Changed It, Now It Sucks!: In-Universe, with regards to the Moulin.
    Zidler: I know I'm making millions, but I liked the Moulin as she was: a little strumpet who thought only of tonight. Now she's grown up and knows better. She has money in her stocking, wears corsets, and never drinks a drop too much. Worst of all, she never sees her old friends anymore...she has gone into society.
  • Tragic Hero: Toulouse-Lautrec, whose unwillingness to trust even those who try to help him brings about his downfall.
  • True Art Is Angsty: In-Universe; how people react to Toulouse-Lautrec's art, a bit of Truth in Television.
  • "Well Done, Son" Guy: The Comte de Toulouse-Lautrec practically defines this trope, declaring for most of the movie what he thinks about Henri's art: "Work? A pretext to hang about cheap dance halls and drink all night. You call that pornographic trash work?" By the end, he changes his tune, but by then not only is Henri dying, he's interpreted as good because it's now famous—Henri just wanted it to be liked because it was beautiful.
  • Will They or Won't They?: Marie Charlet and Toulouse-Lautrec. They don't. Also Henri and Myriamme Hyam. They don't, either.