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Headscratchers / Moulin Rouge!

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  • The scene where Zidler tells Satine about the Duke being "the one Toulouse is shaking a hanky at..." and they peek back and forth to helpfully get Christian as the Duke in Satine's mind, are we supposed to believe Toulouse knew exactly that Zidler was going to say that? Or has he just introduced sooo many people to Satine that he knew exactly what Zidler would tell Satine, and the timing of their spins?
    • Um, no? He was pointing out that the duke was the one Toulouse was shaking his hanky at because Toulouse was shaking his hanky at him and that was a pretty good indicator.
    • Zidler was just pointing out the Duke with an obvious indicator that he could see—Toulouse shaking a hanky at him. He didn't count on Toulouse turning around and grabbing Christian's. It was a coincidence that set the whole movie up.
      • The entirety of that scene involves Toulouse TRYING to apologize for knocking a drink in the Duke's lap, but only does it long enough for Zidler and Satine to get all sorts of confused about who the Duke is, and THEN Toulouse drops the facade and throws the hankie in the Duke's face... it's suspiciously timed, if nothing else...
      • I think (correct me if I'm wrong here) that the original troper thought that Toulouse and Zidler intentionally set up the situation and intended Christian to be mistaken for the Duke - my interpretation was that Toulouse had set up a meeting for Christian as a writer, and Satine/Zidler had forgotten or just ignored this as the meeting with the Duke was far more important. The mistaken identity was a happy coincidence as far as Toulouse was concerned. The hanky confusion was just that - confusion. It's a bit far-fetched to think that Toulouse could somehow have orchestrated the hanky mess up, and the reason he switched after apologising and called the Duke and his minder "Bourgeois pigs!" was because he was drunk on absinthe and they were being obnoxious. One person's suspicious timing is another's serendipitous, story-starting coincidence...
  • WHY does Zidler want to turn the Moulin Rouge into a theatre? It's obviously doing fantastically well as a nightclub.
    • Respectability, probably - a respectable theatre establishment can attract a much more upscale clientele than a nightclub. Even if the nightclub can get a handful of rich guys looking for a fun night of debauchery, the theater can attract a larger number of wealthy patrons, who can bring their sweethearts or even whole families, increasing revenue through ticket sales.
    • Along the same lines, respectability as an end unto itself. Zidler may well be tired of being 'in the game,' so to speak.
    • Then why not open the theater, or convert it? Did they really need the Duke? Look at how much money was being offered nightly. And those pimped-out-dresses could have probably had a few auctioned off.
    • WHY was the actual Moulin Rouge converted to a theatre shortly after the death of Charles Zidler? Truth is stranger than fiction.
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    • The club has electricity, which wasn't at all cheap in the early 1900s. The Moulin Rouge could have barely been scraping even. They need the Duke to both be the financer - giving them enough money to convert to a theatre - and their patron - getting respectable, wealthy names in the seats once it's open.
    • A deleted scene helps explain this, adding the electric lights and such to the Moulin had sunk Zidler deep into debt, and the profits from the nightclub weren't cutting it so in order to pay off the old debt AND have enough left over for the conversion to a theater he needed an outside investor. Satine was the bait for Duke and her job was to convince him to invest in the club to theater scheme.
  • Why couldn't Satine have told Christian the truth instead of doing the whole Break His Heart to Save Him? Couldn't they had come up with some sort of plan together on how to handle the situation instead?
    • Because the duke is an incredibly powerful, wealthy, important man, and they are a penniless writer and a dying high class prostitute. There is very little they could have done, and she probably thought there was no use putting his life in danger for her if she's already on death's door.
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    • On that end then, why not tell him about the consumption—surely he wouldn't want to sleep with her then. Make it a "we just found out" kind of deal or something
      • Christian is the sort of guy who'd probably have wanted to stay with her even more if he knew she was dying. Loyalty and romance and all that.
    • Shouldn't Zidler have told the Duke about Satine's consumption? Or was Zidler trying to indirectly murder him using Satine?
    • The Duke shows himself to be a Yandere and it's entirely possible that he would have thrown the deal out if he knew Satine was dying. Presumably Zidler was hoping that Satine would survive long enough for the initial performances of the new theatre.
    • Why didn't she tell Christian? He's a hopeless romantic who would probably insist on either trying to nurse her back to health or completely break down and subsequently find a way to follow her after she died. He didn't exactly handle her death well when it was a complete surprise to him; if he'd known it was coming, the knowledge would have just festered in him and he'd have likely responded in the worst possible way. Why didn't she or Zidler tell the Duke? He was paranoid enough to question how long they'd have known and would either have accused them of trying to swindle him out of his money, or he might even have believed, as someone else said, they were indirectly trying to kill him. Either way, again, he'd probably have handled the news in the worst possible way. Why couldn't she have told Christian the truth? Because again, Christian is a hopeless romantic - worse, he's a hopeless romantic who has virtually no idea of the reality of the situations he finds himself in, or how to handle it when the reality starts breaking up his view of how things are. When the Duke questions the ending of his play, what does he do? Immediately give the game away. His entire idea of being in love is like a fairytale - he'd probably see them running away together across the mountains and living a penniless but happy life ever after with the Duke and all his money and henchmen never finding them. Satine, on the other hand, is more knowledgeable enough to know that that kind of ending isn't going to happen even if she wasn't dying and, more importantly, that isn't the ending she necessarily wants. She's happy with Christian, yes, but she doesn't want to be constantly looking over her shoulder for the Duke to show up and worrying how to survive with practically no money.
  • Why is there a Duke in France 1899? France had abolished the nobility after the fall of the third empire in 1870.
    • They never said The Duke was French... He could've easily been Austrian or German or Russian or Danish or something.
    • A Freeze-Frame Bonus when the Duke shows Zidler the deed to the Moulin Rouge which he now owns shows him to be the "Duke of Monroth". This sounds very like a British name, and that is in fact the accent Richard Roxburgh uses.
    • FWIW although the nobility as an institution was abolished in 1870, according to The Other Wiki the hereditary titles themselves were restored in France in 1852 and weren't abolished since, so you could still have the official title of 'Duke' in post-1870 France; it's just that it doesn't really mean anything anymore in terms of political power and authority, and the government doesn't award such titles or create new aristocracy, it's basically just a title your family happened to have that you inherited. But that's kind of academic since the Duke himself is pretty clearly suggested to be British.
  • Why do they even need the Duke's help to build a theatre? Their club is already pretty close to a theatre the conversion looks like all it would need is to install chairs and a curtain; that can't be very expensive.
    • Not to mention they already have a ton of money with which to do the conversion; the first scene in the club clearly shows that they have a lot of rich people throwing money at them every night, so why do they need even more just to build a stage?
    • Recall that the conversion included knocking through a wall; they wanted to build a proper theatre & the stage that is built is rather elaborate. As for the money, it's not directly shown how much time passes between the signing of the contract & opening night, but Zidler needed to keep paying everyone during rehearsals, & the club had to be closed during the renovation, hence cutting off the source of income.
  • The future of the Moulin Rouge hinges on the successful performance of its new show Spectacular Spectacular! Aside from all the behind-the-scenes issues with Satine, the Duke and Christian, there's a more obvious problem: why did they give the role of the male protagonist in such an important performance to a man who has repeatedly proven himself a risk to its successful completion due to his narcolepsy?
    • They're not exactly able to set aside time to find new performers in addition to all the other work that needs to be done. The Argentinian just might be good enough to justify keeping him on while money is scarce. Maybe he never fell asleep during a performance before.
    • Also, keep in mind that the Argentinian claims the main part during their pitch of the show to the Duke. During that scene, everyone is clearly flying by the seats of their pants trying to convince the Duke that they have a project that's worth his investment. Everyone's probably just too busy trying to keep ahead of the Duke while they're making the pitch to argue with who's claiming what part and then they'd be too busy actually getting the show and theatre conversion together to worry about it.
  • Why did Nini Legs-in-the-Air give Christian and Satine away? What did she have to gain?
    • My impression was that she was afraid Satine was jeopardizing matters with the Duke (thus the future of the Moulin Rouge, thus the income of everyone who worked there) by messing around with Christian on the side. So she likely figured if the truth were exposed, Satine would be forced to dump Christian and everything could get back on track. Also the subtext of the Tango de Roxanne scene and how the Argentinian acts toward Nini suggests she has been a heartbreaker or source of ruin for men in the past. She may also have been jealous of Satine, either for being the star of the club and the show or for getting to have a love with Christian she could never have. On a related note to this, see the theory about her and the Argentinian on the WMG page.
    • It's also possible she was jealous and wanted to knock Satine down a peg or two.
    • It's been said that Nini is intensely jealous of Satine and likely did it out of spite. There's at least one fan theory that suggests Nini was the original "Sparkling Diamond" before being demoted back to Can Can girl and replaced by Satine. She could've thought that ruining both Satine and Christian would mean that she could go back to being a Sparkling Diamond again.
  • Shouldn't everyone in the film have died from consumption due to all their contact with Satine? She had the contagious kind.
    • Moulin Rouge! is not at all realistic. Aside from people randomly breaking into song (and singing stuff that wasn't yet written in 1900), it's quite often almost cartoonish. If one accepts that, Satine not infecting others is not at all a stretch.
    • Maybe consumption wasn't what she had? Christian is the one telling the story and - like many writers of the 19th and early 20th centuries - didn't quite know how the disease worked. Given that she was a high class prostitute, it's possible she had an STD of some kind. Christian of course would know nothing about those kinds of diseases (no TV or internet to let him in on the facts), and just assumed consumption was what she died of.
      • This is the most likely explanation. "Consumption" was, to most 19th century writers (especially the romantic types like Christian seems to be) and by all accounts the wider public at that time as well, the equivalent to the Incurable Cough of Death trope we have now - it was a sort of catch-all explanation, especially if it came down to a...potentially less civilised cause of death, such as an STD. Consumption just became a quick and easy label to use - if they were coughing blood, they had consumption, no more questions. Nowadays, a lot of people who were said to have died from consumption would probably be diagnosed with all sorts of other more specific illnesses.
  • Why were the prostitutes at the Moulin Rouge called "Diamond Dogs"? I know it's supposed to be a reference to the song of the same name, but I read that in the past, such as the 19th Century the movie takes place in, calling someone a dog was considered a harsh insult. So in that case, wouldn't that sort of be giving the people who don't like prostitution a free pass to make fun of them? Zidler didn't think that through.
    • It's possible it was an Appropriated Appellation — calling people dogs, especially women, isn't such a terrific idea now (cf. "bitch" as an insult) or in David Bowie's day, but paired with the glamorous and beautiful associations of the word "diamond", it might have been an insult slung at the women of the Moulin Rouge that stuck, or a self-deprecating moniker referencing both the dance hall's glitzy aesthetic and the women's harsh way of life.
    • They're hustlers. They'll sniff out all the money you've got on you and try to get it all before the night is over.
      • Given that Christian introduces them as "Zilder and his notorious girls," this seems like the most obvious interpretation. They're jewel-seeking hounds, willing to climb all over you as long as you've got something they want.
    • It could also be referencing the idea of the Moulin Rouge girls being like fancy, high-class pets to those who hired them.

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