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Category:    Home > Reviews > Drama > Literature > Shakespeare > Play > Musical > Romeo and Juliet (1996) + Moulin Rouge! (2001/Fox Blu-rays)

Romeo and Juliet (1996) + Moulin Rouge! (2001/Fox Blu-rays)


Picture: A-     Sound: A-     Extras: B-     Films: B/B+



Baz Luhrmann has been called visionary, inspiring and everything in between but with only 4 films under his belt I am still split on how much of a legacy he has made for himself to date.  New to Blu-ray we have the better two out of the four films he has directed, in the form of Moulin Rouge and Romeo + Juliet.  Romeo + Juliet was his first venture into mixing eccentric with classic archetypes/tales, but certainly not his last.  Later we got another helping of Luhrmann with the music mash-up, comedic drama Moulin Rouge, which utilized a host of classic and modern music hits to bring the film to life.


We got our first taste of Luhrmann with Romeo + Juliet and how he could transform a modest budget into a colorful, imaginative adventure that is graceful, yet multifaceted.  Romeo + Juliet does not give a simple rehashing of the Shakespearian classic, but rather it bends and twists the tale of two star crossed lovers into something new, but concurrently familiar.  Leonardo DiCaprio plays Romeo and Claire Danes is brilliant as Juliet.  The Montagues are the rival house of the Capulets and after the death of Tybalt (John Leguizamo) the pot boils over to all out war.  The love of Romeo and Juliet is threatened, but the lovers hatch a plan to save the eternal love.


Romeo + Juliet is charming, witty and Luhrmann’s mix of modern with classic is memorable to say the least.  The plot gets slow at times, but the pace overall is well done and engaging.  Some of Luhrmann’s over the top artistic choices are questionable (and repetitive), but never to the point of overly distracting.  Romeo + Juliet is a great film that has aged well and showcased the talents of promising actors as well as a director early in their career.


Moulin Rouge in this reviewer’s opinion is the better of the two films and again displays so much life and talent it is almost unbelievable.  Luhrmann again chooses to embrace the star crossed lovers from different walks of life angle, but this time utilizes a plethora of classic and modern pop hits to propel the story forward.  The musical features the talents of Ewan McGregor (Christian) and Nicole Kidman (Satine) as the poor song write falls for the lustful songstress.  After a case of mistaken identity, Satine’s ‘owner’ Zidlar (Jim Broadbent) sets things right as a wealthy financier (the Duke played by Richard Roxburgh) takes a liking to the Satine and wants her hand in marriage.  Kidman’s character is hesitant of McGregor’s promises of love and happiness, but soon falls for his charm.  The lovers attempt to hide their love, but the watchful Duke (though dimwitted) has his suspicions (and bodyguard), setting back any plans Christian and Satine may have.


The film uses music from The Police, Paul McCartney, U2, Elton John, Madonna and too many more to name and uses them well.  The music mash-ups are impressive to say the least and the slick rewrites of the classics induces a toe tapping, sing-a-long that will certainly stand the test of time.  Luhrmann got things right with Moulin Rouge and the modern musical seamlessly blends the musical numbers in, making it not feel as odd or out of place as the musicals of the past.  I feel the audience for Moulin Rogue will only get bigger with time and there are more expressive venues for this classic to explore.


The technical features on these “remastered” films (as touted on the front of the Blu-ray cases) are due justice (finally) for these two great films.  The cases not only insist that the films are remastered, but that Baz Luhrmann himself approved these editions; making all the more understandable how great they turned out.  The picture on both films is a 2.40 X 1 Widescreen that is filled with all the life, texture and charm that Luhrmann had originally intended.  With Romeo + Juliet Luhrmann altered the palette to reflect the tone bouncing between deep blues and the raging oranges/reds of the Mexican backdrop.  The Blu-ray contains a solid color presentation and the deep inky blacks are assuredly admirable.  There is no artifacting, noise, or blurriness to detract from the wonderful film.  These same qualities are again reflected in Moulin Rouge, on top of the fact that the insanely bright palette of the film is in no way subdued.  The sound is a 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio (MA) lossless Surround track on both films and certainly gets the job done, with the two films having so much going on from music to dialogue to action, it again is certainly lightyears beyond any former DVD presentation.  The dialogue is nicely prioritized and the music projects well, with panning/directionality giving additional life to the films.


The extras on each film are as follows:


Romeo + Juliet

Shaking Up Shakespeare Picture in Picture Made with Audio Commentary by Baz Luhrmann, Catherine Martin, Donald M, McAlpine and Craig Pearce and Featuring Behind the Scenes Footage and Stills


Uncut Footage from the Bazmark Vault


Romeo + Juliet: The Music


Filmmaker and Interview Galleries


BD-Live: Live Lookup Powered by IMDB


Moulin Rouge!

Spectacular, Spectacular Picture in Picture Made with Audio Commentary by Baz Luhrmann, Catherine Martin, Donald M, McAlpine and Craig Pearce and Featuring Behind the Scenes Footage and Stills


All New Featurette A Creative Adventure and Introduction by Baz Luhrmann A Word from Baz


Uncut Footage from the Bazmark Vault including:

          * Father & Son – A Look at an Alternative Opening

          * Nicole Kidman’s First Vocal Test


Production Featurettes and Interviews: The Stars, The Writers, The Design, The Dance, The Music and the Cutting Room


The Making of Moulin Rouge


BD-Live: Live Lookup Powered by IMDB



I highly recommend both these films and these extraordinary Blu-rays only heighten the experience.



-   Michael P. Dougherty II


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