Films about the Moulin Rouge: a great history of cinema

30 december 2021

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What if you were able to marvel at the dazzling universe of the Moulin Rouge over the course of a feature length film? There are many films about the Parisian cabaret that have shaped the history of the silver screen. Filled with enchanting scenery, extravagant costumes, the French Cancan and music, immerse yourself in the effervescence of the Moulin Rouge with our selection of films! 

The must-see French Cancan by Jean Renoir

What could be a better way of discovering the spirit of the Moulin Rouge than through the medium of cinema? Insouciance, frivolity and party atmosphere – these are the most apt words to describe the first film on our list. We’re talking about French Cancan by filmmaker Jean Renoir, released in 1955. 

In this colour film, famous actor Jean Gabin plays the role of Danglard, the director of a performance venue called Le Paravent Chinois, where his mistress is the star of the show. While out for a walk on the Butte Montmartre, he notices a young washerwoman, Nini. He comes up with the idea of renovating an old establishment to revive an old-fashioned dance, the cancan, and makes young Nini famous with the bourgeoisie audience at the time. Renaming it the ‘French Cancan ’, the dance is met with unprecedented success at the Moulin Rouge. 

This film allows you to trace the history of the French Cancan, from its creation to its success story. Through its choreography and dancers, you get a real sense of all the enthusiasm and joie de vivre of this Belle Epoque dance. 

The lively Moulin Rouge! by Baz Luhrmann

In 2001 the film Moulin Rouge! by Australian director Baz Luhrmann opened the Cannes Festival. This dramatic musical comedy has become one of the cult films in the history of cinema. The Hollywood feature length film won Oscars for both Best Art Direction and Best Costume Design. 

In the early 20th century, in the Montmartre district of Paris, Christian, a young English poet played by Ewan McGregor meets Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. Together they start writing a grandiose musical show for the Moulin Rouge. We then follow an impossible love story between Christian and Satine, one of the famous Parisian cabaret dancers, played by Nicole Kidman. This spectacular story plays out to an incredibly unique original soundtrack, which alternates between popular hits and original creations. This mix of musical genres and eras earned the film a Golden Globe for Best Score Motion Picture.

With the film Moulin Rouge!, you will simply be blown away by its outstanding cinematography, spectacular scenery as well as its dazzling feather and rhinestone costumes. A must-see film – watch it to your heart’s content!

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Cult films to discover about the Moulin Rouge

Ever since the late 19th century and the first silent films, the Moulin Rouge has transcended the ages in cinemas. If you want to marvel at this crazy world with a timeless party spirit, then check out these films about the Moulin Rouge now! 

1934: Moulin-Rouge, directed by Sidney Lanfield, United States

In this musical comedy, a cabaret singer wants to return to the stage. As her husband is against this idea, she decides to take the place of another actress – but things don’t turn out quite the way she planned… This film from the 1930s takes you back to the golden age of the music-hall with its choreographies and catchy songs.

1941: Moulin Rouge, directed by André Hugon and Yves Mirande,

Actress Joséphine Baker and actors Lucien Baroux and René Dary star in this musical. We follow the story of two friends who want to get rich, but only by using honest means! Via ballrooms, bottles of champagne, feathers and rhinestones, we eventually find out which one succeeds in becoming a star.

1945: La P’tite Femme du Moulin Rouge, directed by Benito Perojo, Argentina

Based on the operetta La Chaste Suzanne by Jean Gibert, the film La P’tite Femme du Moulin Rouge tells a humorous tale of adultery and misunderstandings. One evening the characters find themselves at the Moulin Rouge and everything seems to sort itself out after some dancing. Fancy some light entertainment and easy viewing? This film is just what you need.  

1952: Moulin Rouge, directed by John Huston, United States

This colour feature film retraces the life of painter Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec in Montmartre during the Belle Epoque. You feel like you’ve been submerged in one of the artist’s paintings with all the vibrant colours of the petticoats belonging to the Moulin Rouge troupe, the frills adorned with rhinestones and the characters’ sumptuous outfits. 

1957: Une nuit au Moulin Rouge, directed by Jean-Claude Roy, France

In this French musical comedy, an American uncle leaves his inheritance to his nieces on condition that they successfully perform on the stage of the Moulin Rouge. Everyone tries to help the young girls come up with an act and outsmart the cabaret director. This film will make you discover (or rediscover) the French quadrille in an amusing way!

So many films about the Moulin Rouge that will take you away to a spectacular universe full of dancers, costumes, scenery, celebrations and surprises. It’s enough to make your head spin! And to experience these emotions in person, why not book a dinner show at the Moulin Rouge? 

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