In media studies, we use a number of key aspects to analyse a media text, such as a film. These key aspects are needed so that the audience can understand what the film is about and to enjoy it. Yet, some are more easily spotted in films than others. For example, in the film ‘Moulin Rouge’, the two most obvious key aspects are institutions and narrative. But, on the other hand, it is hard to just use two key aspects when you analyse a film, as they are all interlinked so maybe they are all just as important as each other. From the very outset, institutions seem to play a major part in the film.
We as the audience are made to feel as though we are in a theatre, waiting to be entertained. Before the film has even started, the audience get the impression that it is theatrical or that the film is based round the theatre. There is also an orchestra, which suggest that it is a play or that it is a film made in the early days of filmmaking, as there was not any sound back then in films, and an orchestra played the music for it. When the curtain opens, we expect the film to start, but we see the 20th Century Fox logo. As the curtain is raised, the orchestra plays and this is digetic music as it takes place within the film.
As I said before, institutions play a major role in ‘Moulin Rouge’. 20th Century Fox made the film in 2001, which is one of the biggest film studios in Hollywood. The studio’s main purpose behind making the film was to make a profit. But in order to do so, they must get a large audience into the movie theatre to see it. They do this by entertaining them with a film that appeals to them. Therefore, they get some of the big names in the film industry to appear in the film. “Moulin Rouge”, had two big name stars in the film, Ewan McGregor and Nicole Kidman.
20th Century Fox is owned by one of the most richest and powerful media moguls in the world, Rupert Murdock, and he owns the British newspapers, The Times (Broadsheet) and The Sun (Tabloid), therefore he can use these to advertise the film without any extra cost to him or to the company. It can also reach out to as large an audience as possible. Baz Luhrmann is one of the best known directors in Hollywood and this therefore indicates to the audience that the film would be of good quality as he directed ‘Romeo and Juliet’, which was a worldwide success and which grossed in a lot of money for 2oth Century Fox.
Moulin Rouge has a silent movie feel around it. The music then changes to the cancan and if the audience is educated they can easy identify that the film is set in Paris and the story is about the club the “Moulin Rouge”, famed for the sexy and sassy dancing with that type of music. Then there is the anchorage for the less educated people in the audience and that it tells them that the film is set in Paris in 1900. The tone is now set as the camera zooms in to the streets of Paris and with the camera winding though them.
There is fast editing until we reach the very last comer, it fades into the dark and dangerous area of Montmarte. There is a vicar preaching outside of Montmarte saying, “Turn away from this village of sin”. This connotation tells the audience that there is evil in the village. The audience now sees some of the faces of the people who live there. The audience sees the face of a rough looking man who is played by Ewan McGregor. This reminds the audience that they are watching a film and that it is not real.
For the audience, they can easy identify that this film is a Baz Luhrmann film due to his quirky style of filming and usage of the camera. The chronology order of this film is non-classical as it starts off with the resolution instead of the normality. It stars off with the tragedy and ends with the tragedy, therefore making it non-classical. The beginning of the plot is colourful, noisy and exotic. It reveals that joy, seediness, grandeur, and poverty throughout. The camera work and music, at the very beginning of the film, suggests to the audience the type of film to expect.
This makes a quick assault on the audience sense from the outset as it quickly hits the ground running with the storyline. The first time we see Ewan McGregor’s character – Christian – He seems depressed and deeply up set. He is sitting on the floor hunched up with his head in-between his knees. It seems as though he has been drinking to numb the pain of something, as there is an empty bottle beside him. This sets up a short-term enigma, as the audience have no idea to why Christian is upset. The music becomes non- digetic and seems to get louder and louder as he lifts his head up.
Some light comes though the window and it hits half of his face and the other half is in shadow. This symbols that some sort of evil has taken place in his life but the bit that is in the light could show that so good has come out of it. Moreover, the dark half of his face may tells the audience that there is something troubling him. The audience can also tells that something is troubling him, as it seems as though he has been crying. The camera then fades into the image of the type writing. His tells the audience that the story is about to begin.
Toulouse starts to sing and he sings the line ” The greatest gift you’ll ever learn is just to loved and to be loved in return”, to set the scene for the audience. Christian then starts to type out what Toulouse is singing. The sound switches from digetic to non- digetic sound – from the sound of the typewriters keys to Toulouse singing. This seems as though he is writing a book, as he writes the name of the film, ” The Moulin Rouge”. Now Christian does the voice over and then there is a fade. This indicates to audience that the story is about to start.
The genre and the tone of story are now established, it is one of tragedy and this is portrayed by its serious, yet at times light-hearted, tone. The fade in leads to a shot of the windmill as Christian starts to tell the story. The colour becomes brighter, the people have smiles on their faces and they seem to be enjoying themselves; and this is in sharp contrast to what we see at the beginning of the film. The voice over now seems more joyful than it was in the beginning as Christian voice was full of sorrow. The camera starts to spin as through it is dancing along with the rest of the people.
The music is very loud and they pace of the film speeds up. The shot slowly dissolves into the first shot of Satine (Nicole Kidman); this introduction shows that she has a pivotal role in the film. Even though the shot is quick, her present informs the audience that she is important to the film and this is the reason to what he is upset. The usage of mise-en-scence here shows that she is the centre of attention in that shot, as there isn’t a background. The lighting doesn’t cover all of her face; this tells the audience that there is air of mystery to her.
All the other girl that we seen in the film so far are dressed in colourful costumes, but she isn’t. This sets her apart from the rest of them as she is looked upon as been special and different. The audience now realise that this is the woman that he has fallen in love with and that something must have happened to her, as he is upset. Also the use of the dark colours and shadow presents the idea to the audience that she must have died. Christian is a writer would had been asked by Toulouse, to write the play for them, as they have no one to write it for them.
Toulouse comes up with this brilliant idea that, they should go to the Moulin Rouge to pitch the idea to them so that their play can be shown there. This links back to institutions as they are pitching the idea of the play just like Baz Luhrmann did when he was pitching the idea of the film to 20th Century Fox. In the film there is a lot of parallel scenes. One of which is at the tango scene. The tango sequence of the film simultaneously moves back and forth to the meeting between The Duke and Satine and Christian waiting for Satine to come back.
This Tango sequence is slow and passionate, and symbolised the seriousness of this part of the film. The movement of the dancers represents the emotions that Christian is feeling, yet, it also represents what is happening in the tower between Satine and The Duke, as the dancers are violently grabbing at one another. The movement is representing the main themes of what the film is based on: love, jealousy, desire, suspicion and violence. Just like the play, which is taken place within the film. The camera flicks between the dancing and the events unfolding in the tower.
This suggests to the audience that violence is taking place. Unlike the rest of the film, the ending is of a much slower pace; which indicate to the audience that this is the important part to the film and that it need the audience full attention. The tone of the film changes from one of serious, but light hearted, to one of somewhat sombre. The audience can tell this as the colours, which were more vivid and bright at the start are fading to more darker and cold colours, and by the dark usage of lighting. This adds to the emotions of the characters and is in sharp contrast to previous scenes, as no music can be heard.
This is stereotypical as when something tragic happens in the world everything is slowed down and this emphasize the tragedy. There is a high angle aerial shot of Satine, once the curtains are closed and showing her becoming weak and dying. This gives the audience the impression that you are stronger than her, just like as we look down at people who we believe are weak. The camera looks at Christian, which suggest that he survives. The extreme close up of Satine’s face shows her eyes and mouth, but went she dies, darkness descents over her, which symbolised that she has died.
This solves the long-term enigma for the audience, as they now know that Satine and Christian cannot be together as Satine is now died. At the end the curtains fall on the ‘play inside the play’, which is similar to what had happened at the beginning of the film. This suggests that the theatrical performance has come to an end. This indicates to the audience that we are now leaving the world of the Moulin Rouge. The leaving of the Moulin Rouge, is much more dramatic than what it was like when we arrive there, this enforces the idea of death.
The typewriter, which we had seen at the beginning of the film, is far slower than it was in the beginning, which shows Christian is still grieving over the loss of Satine. Luhrmann did this to give a scene of leaving the fantasy into the real world. The film ‘Moulin Rouge’, used a number of key aspects, but as in most films there are some that are more apparent than others and in this case it is institutions and narrative. These are need so that a film can work and also so that it can be analysed. But there are all interlinked, so you can’t really choose as they are all just as important as each other.