Moulin Rouge (2001) Revisited: the best musical of the 21st century?

Moulin Rouge is perhaps the most beloved big-screen musical of our modern era. However, it was not the smash hit people remember it as being. In fact, director Baz Luhrmann recently made headlines for the fact that his latest film, Elvis, has become his top-grossing movie ever at a relatively modest $145 million. Surely Moulin Rouge made more? Actually, it only grossed $57 million at the domestic box office, being widely considered a flop when it came out. However, over the years, the film’s cult grew and grew, thanks to a fully-stacked DVD release that led to the film becoming a cult sensation. It’s definitely one of star Nicole Kidman’s most iconic roles, while Ewan McGregor became one of the biggest romantic heartthrobs of his generation in its wake.

Indeed, the film is unusual as far as musicals go. It helped pioneer the genre we now call “jukebox musicals,” as most of the songs were not original. Instead, they were twisted and eccentric covers of existing pop tracks, quickly becoming iconic in their own right (such as the movie’s epic cover of The Police’s Roxanne). It paved the way for big screen versions of shows like Mamma Mia and Rock of Ages (for better or worse), and once the film’s cult status picked up, it made Baz Luhrman almost a household name. With its MTV aesthetic mixed with old-school Hollywood glamor, no one had ever seen anything like Moulin Rouge before, and while there have been many imitators since, none have ever quite measured up to it. So join us as we examine Baz Luhrman’s Moulin Rouge – in this special edition of Revisited, written by Cody Hamman, edited by Juan Jimenez, and narrated by Travis Hopson.

Do you think Moulin Rouge deserves its status as a classic? Let us know in the comments!

About the Author

Chris Bumbray began his career with JoBlo as the resident film critic (and James Bond expert) way back in 2007, and he has stuck around ever since, being named editor-in-chief in 2021. A voting member of the CCA and a Rotten Tomatoes-approved critic, you can also catch Chris discussing pop culture regularly on CTV News Channel.