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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Moulin Rouge [Blu-ray]


(John Huston, 1952)





Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: Romulus Films

Video: Vértice Cine



Region: FREE (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:58:54.919

Disc Size: 21,123,929,803 bytes

Feature Size: 20,803,246,080 bytes

Video Bitrate: 20.03 Mbps

Chapters: 6

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: April 28th, 2013



Aspect ratio: 1.33:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video


DTS-HD Master Audio English 1571 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1571 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)

DUB: Dolby Digital Audio Spanish 384 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 384 kbps / DN -4dB



English (SDH), Spanish, none








Description: Moulin Rouge is the story of 19th century French artist Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, portrayed by José Ferrer. The film records his frustration over his physical handicap (the growth in his legs was stunted by a childhood accident), his efforts to "lose" himself in Paris' bawdy Montmartre district, and his career as a painter, which brought him money only when he turned out advertising posters--but what posters! Toulouse-Lautrec's drinking and debauchery lead to his early death, which in the hands of director John Huston is staged (brilliantly) in the manner of a musical comedy finale. This is the film in which Zsa Zsa Gabor actually acts, in the role of demimonde entertainer Jane Avril. As a bonus, the film's musical score (by Georges Auric) managed to hit the Top Ten charts in the U.S. When this immensely successful film was released to television in the late '50s, Moulin Rouge proved to be one of the strongest-ever incentives to purchase a color TV set



The Film:

There have been a number of films with the title Moulin Rouge, including a 1944 French release with Josephine Baker, a 1934 Hollywood comedy with Constance Bennett and Franchot Tone, and of course Baz Luhrmann's 2001 over-the-top re-imagining of the musical genre, appropriately fitted with an exclamation point at the end of the title. But although the latter film had John Leguizamo in a supporting role as a cartoonish Toulouse-Lautrec, John Huston's 1952 release is the only one to delve into the life of the famous French painter and chronicler of the Parisian belle époque. Not that the facts of this bio-pic are to be taken as the gospel truth. Moulin Rouge (1953) is based on Pierre LaMure's fictionalized account of the life of Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, descendent of a prominent old aristocratic family who in the mid-1880s moved to Montmartre, the center of Parisian bohemian life. In the few years left in his short life (he died at 36 in 1901), the artist painted the world of the cabarets, dance halls, and brothels; pioneered the art of poster design; and became a fixture of local night life, particularly at the nightclub of the title, which opened in 1889 and immediately became one of the city's most popular and scandalous entertainment spots.

Excerpt from TCM located HERE

If the measure of the quality of a motion picture merely boils down to how much the screen is crowded with stunning illustration, then John Huston's "Moulin Rouge" well qualifies for consideration as one of the most felicitous movies ever made. For this fictionalized dramatization of the checkered life of Toulouse-Lautrec, the fin-de-sicle French painter, whom José Ferrer primly portrays, is a bounty of gorgeous color pictures of the Parisian café world at the century's turn and of beautifully patterned compositions conveying sentiments, moods and atmosphere.

With the help of an army of artists, which included Ossie Morris, his camera man; his art director, costume designer and a "special color consultant," Eliot Elisofon, Mr. Huston has brilliantly accomplished what emerges unquestionably to be the most vivacious and exciting illustration of bohemian Paris ever splashed upon the screen. From the fairly intoxicating opening, with dancers swirling in the smoky haze and the overcrowded climate of the wine-colored Moulin Rouge, to the last poignant sequence wherein Lautrec sees these same dancers ghosting through the rooms of his family's chateau near Albi as he lies on his painful deathbed, the exquisiteness of the illustration is superlative and complete.

Excerpt from the NY Times located HERE

Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

John Huston's 1952 Moulin Rouge looks quite appealing on Blu-ray from Vértice Cine out of Spain. The image quality shows a healthy layer of grain and Technicolor colors are bright - frequently bordering on vibrant. There are some color flecks, speckles and light scratches but mostly frame-specific and don't hind the presentation much. It is neither glossy nor pristinely sharp (although close-ups can look fairly crisp) but shows some depth and I would guess the 1.33:1 aspect ratio 1080P transfer is a decent replication of the theatrical appearance some 60+-years hence. This Blu-ray surprised me with the colors and detail. I don't have any strong complaints.




















Audio :

Vertice Cine use a DTS-HD Master 2.0 channel at 1571 kbps in the original English. Aside from dialogue, all the audio is notable for the music - namely the Can-Can, some Handel and Waltzs as well as the score by Georges Auric (Dead of Night, The Innocents, Lola Montes, Rififi, Wages of Fear) which sounds quite lively with a shade of depth. There is also a superfluous Spanish DUB and optional Spanish subtitles and my Oppo has identified it as being a region FREE playable on Blu-ray machines worldwide.


Extras :




Moulin Rouge is decent film in its own right - if not an accurate bio-pic. It encapsulates the ribald Paris of the 1890s - life breaking free from classic confinement.  The performance numbers, dance are great and it works well with the backdrop of Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, his life and his art. I liked it and was surprised the Blu-ray looks as a good as it does. Vértice seem totally legit and I do not suspect this of being a BD-R. Bare-bones but region FREE. For those keen on the film - at present, this is certainly the way to go! 

Gary Tooze

May 8th, 2012




About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 3500 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.

Gary's Home Theatre:

60-Inch Class (59.58” Diagonal) 1080p Pioneer KURO Plasma Flat Panel HDTV PDP6020-FD

Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD Player
Momitsu - BDP-899 Region FREE Blu-ray player
Marantz SA8001 Super Audio CD Player
Marantz SR7002 THX Select2 Surround Receiver
Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

APC AV 1.5 kVA H Type Power Conditioner 120V

Gary W. Tooze






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