Moulin Rouge Screening at American Cinematheque at the Eqyptian Theatre

| December 3, 2001

At 9:45pm, an hour before showtime, a formidable line had gathered outside of the Egyptian Theater in Hollywood. This crowd had only one thing on their minds; We have to see this one more time! These people were the unfortunates who had missed the opportunity to see the 8:00pm showing of Moulin Rouge because the tickets had sold out too quickly. The reason was clear enough: The showing was to be followed by a question and answer session with director, Baz Luhrman and star, Ewan McGregor. But to no avail. However, at hearing that a second showing was added, these loyal movie-goers went ahead and bought that ticket for the added 10:45pm screening, to be introduced by Baz Luhrman.
So they waited in the cold and did receive some small dosage of excitement. As the crowd from the early showing was released, at the head of the rush was Gillian Anderson. Star Sighting #1.
At last the audience filtered in, tired, but still buzzing with happiness, as a real enthusiast ought to be. The publicist for the Cinematique stood, thanking everyone for coming out and saying how delighted he was to be screening the film. He proceeded to introduce Baz Luhrman. Star Sighting #2.
Very young looking and very blond, Luhrman received thunderous applause and a standing ovation, all above the cries of someone yelling, “Oscar! Oscar!” In his lovely Australian accent, he again thanked the audience for coming that night and embracing the film. He then said that he wanted to introduce two actors to whom he owed a great deal. To the joyous surprise of the crowd, Ewan McGregor and Nicole Kidman came jogging down the aisle. Star Sightings #3 and #4!
McGregor looked a bit throwbackish to his role in “Trainspotting,” in stylish, yet unique attire. Between his boyish charm and that Scottish accent, he is too much to resist. Kidman, ever the movie star, was elegant even in her casual clothes. If it is possible, she is even more stunning in person than she is on film. Yes, cry your hearts out boys. They were both extremely gracious and again thanked the audience. They spoke quickly, acknowledging the late hour, and exited, followed by a flurry of fans out for autographs. More than content, the audience settled in to watch the film.
If you want the details of the movie itself, you’re going to need to rent it yourself, because it is almost unexplainable. In short, the plot centers on a young, bohemian writer (McGregor) who falls in love with a courtesan (Kidman), who is the star of a brothel called the Moulin Rouge. It’s an all singing, all dancing, vision-shattering, heart-wrenching ride. You will switch from laughing until your sides hurt to sobbing with every cell in your body, not knowing how one went to the other. There is no experience quite like that of seeing a film in Los Angeles with film people who wholeheartedly appreciate the movie experience. The screening could be likened to watching a Broadway show in several ways.
First and most obviously, Moulin Rouge is a musical spectacular-spectacular. Second, there was a fuller connection between screen and audience. People were cheering and clapping after musical numbers as if the actors could still hear them as they drove home. Above all else, the audience was connected to the audience. People shared stories in line about where they saw the film the first time and how it had touched them. As the film concluded, strangers shared tissues with those who had forgotten. This is the ideal beauty of the film experience.
If you still haven’t seen it, make a last ditch scraping to see if Moulin Rouge is still in a theater anywhere near you. Boxing it into a television set just won’t provide the same experience. But if you have to wait for the DVD, (which should be out in just weeks, if it isn’t already) see it then. It is a reminder that we should all be looking for freedom, beauty, truth and above all things, love.

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