Blu-Ray Review: Baz Luhrmann’s ‘Moulin Rouge!,’ ‘Romeo + Juliet’ Made For HD

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CHICAGO – Baz Luhrmann has made two great films and one masterpiece in “Strictly Ballroom,” “William Shakespeare’s Romeo + Juliet,” and “Moulin Rouge!” and the latter two are finally available on Blu-ray, the format for which they were made. In the only way we should expect from a perfectionist like Luhrmann, both films have been lovingly remastered in HD and accompanied by excellent special features. They’re a pair of great HD releases.

HollywoodChicago.com Blu-Ray Rating: 5.0/5.0
Blu-Ray Rating: 5.0/5.0

“William Shakespeare’s Romeo + Juliet” took the romanticism that Luhrmann showed in “Strictly Ballroom” and turned it up to eleven with a visionary take on the classic play. Bursting at the seams (arguably too much so) with ideas, it’s remarkable how well the film has held up over the years. When it came out in 1996, some critics dismissed it as a teeny-bopper product but I think we now realize that Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes are more than mere pretty faces and that Luhrmann actually deserves the “From Visionary Director” title on the front of the Blu-ray case.

Moulin Rouge! was released on Blu-ray on October 19th, 2010
Moulin Rouge! was released on Blu-ray on October 19th, 2010
Photo credit: Fox

DiCaprio and Danes play the original star-crossed lovers in this adaptation that stayed loyal to Shakespeare’s dialogue but completely reimagined it visually. Say what you will about Luhrmann, he’s one of the few modern directors who truly sees film as a visually sumptuous medium, one in which the technical details play as important a role in the journey for the movie watcher as script or performance. “William Shakespeare’s Romeo + Juliet” looks amazing and even more so with the brand-new transfer from the original camera negative that was overseen frame by frame by Luhrmann. It’s a movie made for HD and it’s wonderful that it wasn’t just haphazardly imported to the format.

William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet was released on Blu-ray on October 19th, 2010
William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet was released on Blu-ray on October 19th, 2010
Photo credit: Fox

“Romeo + Juliet” is a very good movie, even more ambitious than you remember, but “Moulin Rouge!” is a masterpiece. It’s a spectacular musical, one that kicked open the door for the resurgence of the genre in the ’00s and a film that plays even better ten years after its release. There’s a passion to the filmmaking in “Moulin Rouge!” that we only see a few times a year and in the best cinema. The fact is that more and more movies are clearly cash-driven projects and the lack of creative fire behind them is easily perceptible to modern viewers. You may not be excited for a film that includes “Like a Virgin” as a musical number, but you can’t deny the creativity and love for filmmaking behind it. When Ewan McGregor exclaims that “love is like oxygen,” it’s a sentiment that doesn’t feel corny or cliched. It’s the driving force of the entire film and it’s Luhrmann’s love for film that clearly keeps him alive.

Like “Romeo,” “Moulin Rouge!” has been meticulously remastered by Luhrmann. Both films look great and sound even better. What’s so wonderful is that they haven’t been overly-polished: There’s still a bit of grain and the colors haven’t been over-saturated merely to show off on HD. Both video transfers are matched by equally-spectacular audio tracks. Technically, these are great releases.

The films look and sound so good and have held up well enough that the pair would be worth picking up without special features. The fact that they come with a ton of behind-the-scenes featurettes, archival material, commentaries, and more makes them both must-owns. All of the material below is worth your time, especially for fans of Luhrmann and his films, and the only complaint I have is Fox’s typically-annoying organizational skills. There should never be a series of 2-minute features that can’t be viewed via “Play All.” Why do we constantly have to go back to the menu to watch all of the b-t-s material from “Moulin Rouge!”? It’s nonsense. But it’s worth the annoyance for Blu-ray releases this remarkable.

Special Features - “William Shakespeare’s Romeo + Juliet”
o “Shaking Up Shakespeare” — Picture In Picture With Audio Commentary Featuring Behind-the-Scenes Footage and Stills
o Uncut Footage From The Bazmark Vault
o “Romeo + Juliet: The Music”
o Filmmaker And Interview Galleries

Special Features - “Moulin Rouge!”
o “Spectacular, Spectacular” — Picture In Picture With Audio Commentary Featuring Behind-the-Scenes Footage and Stills
o “A Creative Adventure”
o “A Word From Baz”
o Uncut Bazmark Vault Footage Including Alternate Opening and Nicole Kidman’s First Vocal Test
o Production Featurettes And Interviews
o The Making Of “Moulin Rouge!”

“Moulin Rouge!” stars Nicole Kidman, Ewan McGregor, John Leguizamo, Jim Broadbent, and Richard Roxburgh. It was written by Baz Luhrmann & Craig Pearce and directed by Luhrmann. It was released on Blu-ray on October 19th, 2010. It is rated PG-13 and runs 128 minutes.

“William Shakespeare’s Romeo + Juliet” stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Claire Danes, Brian Dennehy, John Leguizamo, and Pete Postelthwaite. It was written by Baz Luhrmann & Craig Pearce and directed by Luhrmann. It was released on Blu-ray on October 19th, 2010. It is rated PG-13 and runs 120 minutes.

HollywoodChicago.com content director Brian Tallerico

By BRIAN TALLERICO
Content Director
HollywoodChicago.com
brian@hollywoodchicago.com

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