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Blu-ray Reviews: Moulin Rouge!

Originally published in Australian HI-FI, 2011
Last updated 17 August 2012

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Moulin Rouge!
2001 - Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment South Pacific Pty Ltd
Director: Baz Luhrmann
Starring: Nicole Kidman, Ewan McGregor, John Leguizamo, Jim Broadbent, Richard Roxburgh, Garry McDonald, Jacek Koman, Matthew Whittet and Kerry Walker

Movie: Picture: Sound: Extras:

These days movie musicals are rare. For good reason. Who wants to spend $15 on hearing what may well be second rate music? One way around this was employed in Moulin Rouge!. Just sample from the best of what has gone before. The best pop music from the past has two virtues: it is often very good, and it is to some extent known to our common cultural consciousness.

Few people will be hearing most of the songs in Moulin Rouge! for the first time.

At the start the songs are presented intact and more or less straight. There was the big Nicole Kidman rendition of 'Diamonds are a Girl's Best Friend' (from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes), but tossed into this, and around it, were snippets of other songs. Some Madonna of course, with 'Material Girl' fitting the first act's themes of ambition, trashiness and amorality. But as the movie progresses and love blooms and danger threatens, it gets far more serious. The song elements borrow more extensively from more intense songs, woven together with considerable dexterity into sequences which were powerful and moving.

The presentation of the music was, well, flat. Not tonally, but in terms of three dimensional space. There was little use of the surround channels beyond a little bleed into ambience during most of the songs. As opposed to the thrill of the very opening when the 20th Century Fox logo was revealed by the drawing back of red curtains to the sound of immersive applause. The music is mostly from the front, and mostly confined quite closely to the area around the centre speaker.

The dynamism seems rather constrained as well, with acoustic peaks a little flattened into the body of the music, robbing it a little of life. So just expect more the 'wall of sound' effect. There's a fair bit of jungle-drum type music near the start, and the bass, while driving, is a touch lumpy and undifferentiated from the rest of the mix.

I'm judging harshly, here, against the standards of an audiophile disc. And none of this detracts from a good movie, with good music, that will sound much better on a quality surround system than a TV.

The feature package is handsome, too, with nearly four hours of additional material plus a BonusView PIP accompaniment to the commentary, plus a DVD version of the movie, plus a 'Digital Copy' suitable for a portable device.

Running time: 128 minutes
Picture: 2.40:1, 1080p24, MPEG4 AVC @ 21.01Mbps
Sound: English: DTS-HD Master Audio 24/48 3/2.1 @ 4122kbps (core: DTS 24/48 3/2.1 @ 1509kbps); English Audio Descriptive, Spanish, French, Portuguese: Dolby Digital 3/2.1 @ 448kbps; Commentary: Dolby Digital 2/0.0 @ 224kbps
Subtitles: English, Spanish, Portuguese, Danish, Finnish, Norwegian, Swedish, English (Commenatary), Danish (Commenatary), Finnish (Commenatary), Norwegian (Commenatary), Swedish (Commenatary)
Extras: DVD version; 'Digital Copy' included; Enhanced mode with BonusView PIP, facts and branching to many of the featurettes; 45 Featurettes (1080p24 - 161 mins); 1 Featurette (1080i60 - 26 mins); 10 Webisodes (1080p24 - 22 mins); 2 Music Videos (1080p24 - 8 mins); 1 Music Video (1080i60 - 5 mins); 2 Trailers (1080i60 - 4 mins); Bookmarks; Recalls restart potiion when switched off
Restrictions: Rated (Australian rating); Region Free

The following video bitrate graphs were generated by BDInfo 0.5.7. This is for the movie:

And this is for the BonusView PIP stream:

© 2002-2012, Stephen Dawson