I have to apologize right away for not getting this review out to you sooner, but if you could see how many features are truly packed on these two very awesome Blu-Rays you would understand my stance. Today, we have for you: William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet and Moulin Rouge! both directed by the fabulous Baz Luhrmann.
Romeo + Juliet
Everyone has probably seen this film. You probably either loved it or you hated it. I happened to love it. This is the second film from Baz Luhrmann and second in what he likes to call the “Red Curtain Trilogy” which also includes Moulin Rouge! and his first film, Strictly Ballroom. It’s interesting that he has dubbed his first three films as such as all the films, and even including his latest one, Australia, are about young love in an adult world with real world problems. Baz is truly a romantic with his films and it suits him so perfectly that he would choose to retell the original love story, Romeo and Juliet.
It seems like every time I see another Blu-Ray with all the special features describing at what lengths it takes to make a film what it is, it furthers my doubt that I could ever make a film; even a short. Listening to commentary with Directors and writers and Directors of Photography has become one of my favorite things on Blu-Ray or even DVDs. If you want to know just about everything there is to know about a certain movie, there really is no better way to do it than with commentary. What I particularly like about these Blu-Rays’ commentary is the fact that they are interactive. No more of just selecting commentary ON and sitting back and most likely falling asleep to the sweet sounds of boredom as someone droned on and on about their film. Now there are little interactive buttons that pop up when appropriate about that scene which will pause the movie and current commentary and then take you to a separate piece about how that scene was filmed or rehearsed or how the costumes were designed. The sky is the limit on what you might see and the interactive buttons are frequent and plentiful.
Besides the awesome interactive commentary with Picture in Picture mode and commentary from Baz Luhrmann, Catherine Martin, Donald M. McAlpine and Craig Pearce, there are plenty of other features that will fill an entire night for you. One of my favorite features on the Blu-Ray was the documentary Romeo + Juliet the Music. Although this is a little lengthy for being a feature on the Blu-Ray, the musical soundtrack is probably the most important part of the film. Without the modern day love songs guiding us through the Shakespearean world, the film would have been lost on millions of young adults who fell in love with the film when it hit theaters.
There is a ton of Uncut Footage from the Bazmark Vault showcasing promotional photos, rehearsals, singing try-outs and more. An interesting part of the features is one called Live Extras. By clicking on this, as long as you have an internet connection, your Blu-Ray will update any new features that weren’t on the disc. If there has been a new interview with Baz for instance, you would see it on here. It also allows you to see what else 20th Century Fox is up to with trailers and scenes from other films on Blu-Ray from their collection.
Lastly, although I’m sure there is more I am forgetting, there were some old tapes of Baz Luhrmann giving a speech about the process it took for Romeo + Juliet to get made. They are cut up into smaller pieces such as why did he choose Romeo and Juliet and how did the pitch go for his film. That one, in particular, was really funny and watching him describe how his pitch for Romeo + Juliet went only reminded me of the Pitch of Spectacular, Spectacular in Moulin Rouge, which is our next film.
I know I said that I love Romeo + Juliet, but anyone who knows me knows that I am just gaga for Moulin Rouge. Call me a sucker for musicals if you want, but this film is full of talent. I haven’t always been the biggest fan of Nicole Kidman, but this film made me a believer of her comedic timing and don’t even get me started on Ewan McGregor. Kidman and McGregor do all their own singing in this film and most of the supporting actors as well. They also did a lot of the stunts on their own as well. Now, I know that they weren’t flying cars over ravines or kicking someone’s ass, but there was wire work, as well as dangling from rooftops.
For those who are not aware of this little gem, allow me to divulge the story to you. McGregor is Christian, a poet and wants to be free of the corporate world and job that his father has set up for him. He travels to Montmartre, outside of Paris, to work on poetry and soon becomes involved with a crazy group of actors, singers and writers which ends up introducing him to Satine (Kidman). Satine is a nightclub dancer and performer and the star of the show, she is the most beautiful woman in the Moulin Rouge. They fall in love, but it is forbidden. The film takes you through their journey of jumping through hoops to be together and ultimately ends tragically.
Enough about the fantastically, tragically comedic film and the wonderful acting by all, on with the features. This film also features the commentary like that on the Romeo + Juliet Blu-Ray. This one is called Spectacular, Spectacular Picture in Picture Mode with audio commentary by Baz Luhrmann, Catherine Martin, Donald M. McAlpine and Craig Pearce which also includes the behind the scenes footage and stills like I had mentioned for Romeo + Juliet.
As if you don’t get a world of information on how the film was made from the commentary, there is so much more on how the film was made. The Making of Moulin Rouge and More is an intense look at the music selections, the costume designs, the reality of the Moulin Rouge compared to the film and more.
There are so many great interviews and production featurettes with the stars and writers. There is information divulging the secrets to The Design, The Dance, The Music and the Cutting Room. One of my favorite features is actually in the commentary, but you can select it in the features too. It’s watching Baz try to rile up the Can Can dancers to be seductive and lusty for the men. There are multiple tries in which the dance gets more steamy each time and it is truly entertaining.
An alternate opening that could have been using Cat Stevens’ song “Father and Son” is shown in almost complete form. It’s good to see the other ideas that they started with, but ultimately, their reasons that lead them to the actual opening happened for a reason, and I welcome that. I wasn’t a huge fan of the Father and Son scene, just for it’s overtone of melancholy.
With so much on each of these Blu-Rays, I know that I can not list everything on them. For instance, I failed to mention all of the interviews from cast and crew on the Romeo + Juliet Blu-Ray. However, despite there being so much to keep you busy all weekend, the film themselves hold up beautifully on Blu-Ray.
Both films have been transferred flawlessly and the sound is crisp and clear as well. The only graininess I ever saw was either in a special feature that was filmed ten years ago or in parts of the film, Romeo + Juliet. However, I believe it was left grainy in parts for an emotional effect on purpose. Without fail, these two Blu-Rays have held up even years after they were originally released and they will proudly be displayed on my shelf. I suggest you do the same and Buy It.
by Angela Davis