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9/5/2001, CANNES: MOULIN ROUGE IS A-WHIRL

They (the media) laughed and clapped and were well entertained at this morning’s press screening of Baz Luhrmann’s Moulin Rouge, which was followed by a press conference that was all Australian in its easygoing, banter-filled style. Nicole Kidman, wearing glasses, was spared the embarrassment of tasteless questions (for which she was thankful) and Baz was his enthusiastic and expansive self. There was no sign of nerves – nor was there cause for any. The film is a-whirl, reports Andrew L. Urban from the Festival.

The much publicised delays, the personal trials of Nicole and Baz, the rumours of artistic failure were all swept away as Moulin Rouge unspooled over two hours as a rich and passionate film with far more humour and fun than perhaps anticipated – considering it’s a tale of tragic love. (Another surprise: Cannes or no Cannes, there is no sign of a can-can...) It is chockers with diverse elements that would defy a lesser filmmaker, ranging from kitsch and camp to romance, idealism, melodrama and overstatement. But Baz Luhrmann and his cast – not to mention a superb crew and design (digital as well as physical) team – have delivered a fantasy world that nonetheless has a reality for us. All the frolics and the magic tricks of cinema end up serving an emotional purpose.
(See full reviews on May 24, 2001, when Moulin Rouge opens in Australia.)

As for the press conference, Baz fielded our question about the nationality of his film (which was referred to as American in the previous day’s Variety) with remarks that while the subject was universal, “the way we tell it is very Australian…..It is absolutely an Australian film.”

He later expounded on this theme, saying “this is not the only Australian cinematic language…it’s just our way.” The 45 minute press conference – packed with crews and journalists from around the world (and hundreds more outside the room watching on a tv screen) – was effectively conducted as usual by Henri Behar, and was broadcast live on the Festival’s website.

If anyone had any doubts about the sense of detail that oozes out of Bazmark (Baz and Catherine Martin’s company) they only had to look at the subtle but notable dress sense exhibited at the conference. Nicole wore a Chinese style rust red brocade-over-beige long dress; Ewan McGregor was in a beige jacket with a rust red shirt; the others – Baz, Richard Roxburgh, John Leguizamo and Jim Broadbent, were in varying shades of grey and blue-grey.

There was nothing revealed in the press conference that wasn’t reflected in the elaborate production notes for the film, or that hasn’t been published elsewhere. But it did serve to seal the film’s status as Australian and to showcase its stars and director as friends as well as collaborators.

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Andrew L. Urban presents
AUSTRALIA AT CANNES 2001

MOULIN ROUGE TRAILER

Moulin Rouge screens on May 9, 2001, as the Opening Film at the 54th Cannes International Film Festival. There are two press screenings (10 am and 4pm) prior to the Official screening at 7.30pm.







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