An Analysis of Moulin Rouge

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Moulin Rouge(2001) is an Oscar winning master piece from director Baz Luhrmann. It followed the success and recognition of Romeo + Juliet (1996) and Strictly Ballroom (1992). All three films were recognized for Luhrmann’s characteristic style. His films feature stylistic choices such as blue and red lighting, the use of rapid cuts and vibrant, period accurate costume. To analyze Luhrmann’s use of the four elements of the stylistic system, I will consider two specific scenes from the film, namely El Tango De Roxanne and the first meeting between the Duke, Christian and Satine. Although they both feature singing and dancing, the mood evoked by each contrasts completely.

Every film uses the stylistic system to structure a narrative that
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To follow the dialogue, Luhrmann crosses the axis of action. Bordwell and Thompson define the axis of action as; “the imaginary line that passes from side to side through the main actors, defining all the spatial relations of all the elements of the scene as being to the right or left. The camera is not supposed to cross the axis at a cut and thus reverse those spatial relations.” (2008, pg 477). Luhrmann manages to cross the axis of action by moving his camera around the outside of the group of characters. This way, the audience doesn’t get disorientated by a constant changing of character positions but also enables them to see all the characters in relation to one another and their reactions to the dialogue.
When the music begins and the characters are doing choreographed dance steps, the takes become longer and the shot scale is long to medium. This is done specifically so that the audience can take in all the action and spectacle in each shot. Luhrmann also makes use of quick camera movements; such as the whip pan (quick rotation on the horizontal axis) when moving from character to character during the song which once again enforces how busy the scene is.

The entire scene takes place in the elephant outside the Moulin Rouge which is Satine’s private boudoir and the place that she entertains all her male guests. The décor inside is very oriental and opulent; the predominant colours are red and gold with rich
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