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Harry Reviews The MOULIN ROUGE Soundtrack and what it says about the film that follows!

Hey folks, Harry here... Now I know I don't write reviews of Soundtracks too often, but when an advance copy of the soundtrack to Baz Luhrmann's MOULIN ROUGE arrived in my mail box... and I put it on, it completely changed my expectations and understanding of what Baz Luhrmann is seemingly trying to do to the Musical Genre as we know it.

First, let's discuss the Musical Genre as a whole, before moving on to MOULIN ROUGE's Soundtrack and what it seems to be putting forth into that history.

Sound and Picture film basically began with THE MUSICAL. It seemed to be the reason that Sound was invented for cinema... To bring music into the play... It actually began before JAZZ SINGER though... In the days of Silent Cinema, prior to the films in big cities there were Musical Prologues before the films began... Little mini-song and dance routines... Folks like Chuck Gregory, who was a song and dance man that produced and choreographed elaborate stage numbers all up and down the East Coast back in the days of Chaplin, Chaney, Fairbanks, Keaton and Pickford. Film was the final act in a whole presentation that began with comedy, moved on to the musical number, then slid into cinema...

Song was amongst the greatest forms of mood enhancers for a film... The orchestra's playing live with the films, the little piano man... The player pianos with the paper roll soundtracks activated with the films... Then the Edison Cylinders... and then briefly 78s... before sound on film came in.

And the real MUSICAL was born... Each studio had their own MUSICAL division... In the 30s, RKO had Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, Warner Brothers had Busby Berkeley's Kaleidoscopic Menageries, MGM had Eleanor Powell, Judy Garland & Mickey Rooney... and on and on.... The music for the films was often a lot of old standards that folks had heard on Radio, with few new songs scattered through the tracks... This became the pattern for years.

Did you think AS TIME GOES BY was born with CASABLANCA? That SINGIN IN THE RAIN was written alongside the Film? One of the keys to the old Movie Musicals was that the audience was familiar with the lyrics.... So when you saw SINGIN IN THE RAIN and he's walking in the rain... His singing and dancing to that would be RIGHT in your mind... You could imagine that.... Hell, you might have done that some night yourself.... And suddenly, it transcends just the character on screen and the song... And becomes a shared moment. This continued till the Musical transformed into the BROADWAY PRODUCTION REENACTED FOR CAMERAS.

SOUND OF MUSIC, WEST SIDE STORY, MY FAIR LADY... All of a sudden the movies were spreading the music with a story... where everything was brand new and the songs were written specifically for the stories... They were integral to the plots, advanced the stories... and they started kicking ass at the Box Office and at the Awards Shows...

But what was happening that killed the musical was that this became the standard. Suddenly to launch a Musical you had to not only come up with a story, but then create new songs that would be cool to an audience that had never heard them before... That's really hard. REAL HARD... SO hard that when we see films like NEWSIES... well ya have a musical that... well, not only did ya not like the story, but the music wasn't any good either. At least in the middle of the road musicals of the thirties, they had songs that the audience knew and loved...

The next big change was MTV. MTV suddenly did to the Musical what the Compilation Porn did to the porn industry... All people wanted was to see the sex, no subpar acting please... just the ol in-n-out eh? MTV was pure music and image, and it was the music you heard on the radio... The music that you heard on the way to work and on your television... And suddenly the Broadway Musical to Film had died.

The Disney Musicals became the only remnants of Musical Cinema... The rest of Hollywood had missed the boat.... they didn't have a great arranger/lyricist... and when Howard Ashman died... what could very well have been a great dynasty for the Disney Musical... well, it died a little too... Instead they've resorted to Modern Pop Artists to compose songs with Film Composers... and the results have been uneven thus far.

Now... I've liked recent musicals like EVERYONE SAYS I LOVE YOU and LOVE'S LABOURS LOST... but they didn't play wide because the music was from the 30s and 40s... it wasn't the music that the modern audience loved or appreciated.

MOULIN ROUGE is here... How does it change things? What is it doing differently?

MOULIN ROUGE is a movie musical that takes songs you know... YOUR SONG, RHYTHM OF THE NIGHT, ONE DAY I'LL FLY AWAY, CHILDREN OF THE REVOLUTION, MATERIAL GIRL... and on and on... Songs that the prime film audience knows nearly every word to... Songs we can 'sing along with'... Songs that we've had playing in our lives for the last 20 years... And like what happened with SINGIN' IN THE RAIN, they have been re-arranged... re-orchestrated and re-composed... Accents and keys have changed... and even the lyrics here and there... But suddenly songs that we love and cherish have a completely new and fresh feel... And we love this music, this is our music.... but instead of staying with an Eighties feel... it has a modern hip feel... Each song is larger than it has ever been...

I've been listening to this Soundtrack non-stop for two days now... The medley's are absolutely entrancing... Listening to Valeria doing RHYTHM OF THE NIGHT or Ewan McGregor's YOUR SONG... I'm totally in love.... Bono, Gavin Friday and Maurice Seezer's version of CHILDREN OF THE REVOLUTION has me under a spell. ROXANNE? It's called EL TANGO DE ROXANNE... It begins with a raucous cancerous alcoholic gravily gutter scream of ROOOOOOXXAANNNNEEEEEE.... and it feels cool... It sounds cool... For the first time in my life I wasn't flashing to Eddie Murphy in a Cell singing it off-kilter.... Suddenly I was searching... wanting to hear and see the new images that went with this new song.... a new song that I instantly knew all the words for.

When you hear ELEPHANT LOVE MEDLEY with Ewan McGregor starting rather dryly with, "All you need is Love" Nicole protesting, then Ewan Launching into a brief bit of Beatles classic, which transforms almost immediately into a medley of the favorite moments of the pop love ballad from the last 20 years.... It's got a piece of everyone's "This is our song" request from the hottest hits that's fit to spin, right here at KNIN... Or whatever your radio station you share with that significant other is.

It is my belief that based upon what I hear on this soundtrack... With what I know of Baz Luhrmann's visual style.... the way he let's images be caressed by his scores and songs... The way he fills his frames... And the quality of the actors he has in this thing... I'm DYING TO SEE THE FILM at this moment. To watch whatever Ewan and Nicole do while singing that ELEPHANT LOVE MEDLEY... I'm ready. I'm so there.

The musical isn't a dead genre.... It has just been awaiting a film to transform it.... to evolve the genre. To deliver it into a modern form, different from what we've seen in the past. I have loved the Musical ever since I was a tiny scrawny boy watching my first Busby Berkeley films and Dancing to PINBALL WIZARD at the ages of 3 and 4.

This film... I feel has an amazing chance to change the perception of the modern movie musical based upon this score... Fatboy Slim's BECAUSE WE CAN... pure adrenaline... a CAN-CAN from planet Mongo... I first heard it while Father Geek and I were driving to the Alamo to see MADE... We were on North Lamar passing Threadgills when all of a sudden, "EVVVERYBODY CAAN CAN CAN CAN CAN CA CA CA CAN!!!!" Father Geek does this weird twitch... and as I listen to it, I just began laughing... Laughing and giggling... What a freak out of a song... What an incredibly energetic coked up version of a CAN CAN... I can only imagine what Luhrmann has done with the images...

Be Prepared... This isn't your parent's musical methinks...

MOULIN ROUGE Track Listing

- David Bowie

- Christina Agullera, Lil' Kim, Mya and Pink

- Fatboy Slim

- Nicole Kidman, Jim Broadbent, Caroline O'Connor, Natalie Mendoza & Lara Mulcahy

- Valeria

- Ewan McGregor and Alessandro Safina

- Bono, Gavin Friday and Maurice Seezer

- Nicole Kidman

- Beck

- Nicole Kidman, Ewan McGregor & Jamie Allen

- Nicole Kidman & Ewan McGregor -- written by David Baerwald *the one original song!

- Ewan McGregor, Jose Feliciano & Jacek Koman

- Rufus Wainwright

- Nicole Kidman, John Leguizamo and Alka Yagnik

- David Bowie and Massive Attack

And here are the songs that went into making the above songs....

Diamonds are a girl's best friend

Like a Virgin

Addicted to Love

Sisters are doing it for themselves



Nature Boy

Children of the Revolution

One day I'll Fly away

Love is like oxygen

Your Song

Rhythm of the night

One more night

Silly love songs

Pride (in the name of love)

Come What May

Chamma Chamma

Material Girl

Macho Man

Slave to the Rhythm


Diamond Dogs

Love is a many splendored thing

All you need is love

The show must go on

Lady Marmalade

Don't leave me this way

The sound of music

I will always love you

Don't leave me this way

I was made for loving you

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