Moulin Rouge Movie: synopsis & casting

december 2023

The alluring world of the Moulin Rouge cabaret, symbol of glamor, entertainment and bohemianism, has been inspiring artists for decades; but what is truly fascinating is that the identity of the Moulin Rouge was itself shaped and exalted by the variety of those artistic interpretations… Let’s introduce one of the most original journeys through the myth and magic of the Parisian cabaret, brought to life through exquisite storytelling and the star-studded cast’s powerful performance: the Moulin Rouge Movie!

film moulin rouge
© Maximum Film

The Moulin Rouge Movie is a dazzling musical film, directed, produced, and written by Baz Luhrmann. It took audiences by storm when it was released in 2001, displaying an 89% review score on Rotten Tomatoes. This acclaimed cinematic masterpiece is a joint production between the USA and Australia, featuring Australian actress and singer Nicole Kidman along with actor and singer Ewan McGregor. The picture offers a unique reinterpretation of songs from the 1940s to the 2000s that fits the atmosphere of this spectacular and dramatic love story between their characters, Satine and Christian.

But from its inception in 1889 to its immortalization in film, the Moulin Rouge has been captivating a variety of other stories, artists, writers, and audiences worldwide, as a beacon of extravagance and spectacle.

Let’s do a quick overview. The original 1952 Moulin Rouge musical film was directed by John Huston and produced by John and James Woolf. Shot in the UK and in Paris, the film was nominated for a variety of awards in 1953: it won two Oscars, while the French actress Colette Marchand won the Golden Globes Awards for Most Promising Newcomer to Film. However, you might be more familiar with the newest theatrical version of the musical, as it premiered in July 2018 at the Colonial Theatre in Boston. Written by Baz Luhrmann and Craig Pearce, the production won no less than 10 Tony Awards!

So, if you want to treat yourself to a movie marathon this weekend, discover more of the best films featuring the Moulin Rouge and grasp the full extent of the cabaret’s influence! But, for now, let’s dive into the captivating world of Baz Luhrmann’s Moulin Rouge Movie, where passion, art, and music intertwine.


At the end of the 19th century, during Paris’ Belle Époque, Christian, a young, penniless poet, settles in the Montmartre district and discovers a world of sex, drugs, and the French cancan. He decides to rebel against this decadent milieu by leading a bohemian life.

Christian dreams of writing a major play, and the painter Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec is ready to give him a chance. The painter needed a grandiose show for the Moulin Rouge, and the poet was hired to write the libretto. It was there that he fell in love with the courtesan Satine, star of the prodigious cabaret, coveted by the Duke…

The cast

The Moulin Rouge Movie boasts an extraordinary cast, including Nicole Kidman, who delivers a stellar performance as Satine. Ewan McGregor brings Christian to life with palpable emotion, while John Leguizamo interprets the role of Toulouse-Lautrec with zest. The illustrious Jim Broadbent takes on the part of Zidler, adding charisma to the ensemble.

fil moulin rouge
© FlixPix

Behind-the-scenes anecdotes

Did you know that the making of the Moulin Rouge movie was filled with as much drama and allure as its on-screen love story?

The show must go on: the actress and singer Natalie Mendoza, part of the original film’s cast, later starred in the Broadway musical adaptation “Moulin Rouge”, infusing it with authenticity. She surely knows all about the secrets behind the Moulin Rouge adventure!

Back to the movie, let’s not forget that as a musical, it represents twice the work for the artistic teams. That’s why Baz Luhrmann ensured his team’s creative harmony by hosting them at his villa in Australia. This was also an opportunity to taste absinthe and capture the spirit of la Belle Époque.


You might be surprised to learn that the Moulin Rouge movie was entirely shot in Australia’s Fox studios, yes, this includes also the Parisian backdrop scenes. With the City of Love might have been an artifact in the musical, its production team faced actual challenges with on-set accidents at the time. This included Nicole Kidman spraining her ankle while dancing for a Satine scene, thus causing the shooting to be put on hold for 2 weeks. The actress also broke a rib wearing the tight corsets that were fashionable during La Belle Époque.

The film indeed displays an array of original designs, from costumes to jewelry. Catherine Martin, the costume, production, and set designer even won two Oscars for Best Costume Design and Best Art Direction. One of the most dazzling pieces on the set was actually Satine’s necklace: a handcrafted marvel from 18-carat white gold, adorned with over 1,300 diamonds. Can you guess what name it was given? Satine, of course!

What were the awards of the Moulin Rouge Movie?

The Moulin Rouge Movie swept away audiences and critics alike and was nominated for a variety of awards, earning a series of accolades including the European Film Award in 2001, Oscars in 2002 for Best Art Direction and Best Costume Design. The Rouge musical also won the Golden Globes in the same year for Best Musical Film, Best Actress in a Musical Film, and Best Film Score, along with BAFTA awards including Best Music, Best Supporting Actor, and Best Sound. Round of applause to the whole production team that was nominated and especially to Baz Luhrmann, Nicole Kidman and Catherine Martin who won several awards at a time!

Where can I watch Moulin Rouge?

Are you a fan of the Moulin Rouge movie? You can relive the magic on various platforms including Apple TV and Amazon Prime Video, where the story of love, music, and the pursuit of dreams continues to enchant viewers around the world.

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