Moulin Rouge! just turned 20 years old, but even after two decades, the film's cultural impact is still being felt. Case in point, Moulin Rouge! The Musical swept the Tony Awards in September, taking home 10 trophies, including Best Musical. Well, as it turns out, the iconic tracks heard throughout the film were almost very different until a slew of rock music legends, including Elton John, swept in and helped writer/director Baz Luhrmann maintain his original vision for the jukebox musical.
I recently sat down with Baz Luhrmann to congratulate him on the film’s 20th anniversary and the musical’s Tony wins when he launched into an impassioned display of gratitude toward those who helped the film get made. This includes Paul McCartney, David Bowie and the man who “led the charge,” Elton John. He explained that the music publishers wanted nothing to do with mash-ups or musical adaptations, so he had no choice but to go to the artists themselves. Luhrmann recalled:
Elton John’s “Your Song” is featured prominently in Moulin Rouge! as Ewan McGregor’s Christian serenades his star-crossed lover, Nicole Kidman’s Satine. It’s become such an iconic moment that the idea of any other track being used in its place is nearly unthinkable. If you haven’t seen the film in a while, here is a quick refresher:
But Elton John isn’t the only knighted, rock music superstar to have taken a role in pushing the project forward. The Beatles’ “All You Need Is Love” is also prominently featured in the film, and Paul McCartney “swung in” to push publishers in the right direction. David Bowie took it up a notch by not only supporting the film’s use of his song “Heroes,” but also working with Baz Luhrmann directly to provide vocals for the film’s cover of “Nature Boy.” As Luhrmann explained:
Perhaps the most charming part of this story is that after working with his heroes, Baz Luhrmann managed to develop meaningful relationships with them. The rock icons were right to put their faith in Luhrmann, as the film became a cultural phenomenon (despite its mixed critical reception) and ended up winning two Oscars.
As for Baz Luhrmann’s future, he has plenty of projects in the works. Moulin Rouge! The Musical just opened in Melbourne, will open in London in a few weeks, and then will be touring on American soil before making its way to Tokyo. He’s also writing and directing 2022’s Elvis Presley biopic. It stars Austin Butler as the icon himself and features performances from Tom Hanks and Dacre Montgomery. If you’re wondering what to watch while you anxiously await Luhrmann’s next feature, we’ve got you covered.
Jeff is a film buff who is ridden with gratitude that he gets to spout opinions about them for a living. He currently resides in Los Angeles, where he enjoys feeding his addiction to buying furniture on Amazon.
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