Whole Lotta Shakin’
Baz reinvigorated film. It was a simple concept, and advanced by others long before: having the camera in the chaos. My first experience with this was “Red Shoes”, which though novel in its time isn’t even notable today. What Moulin Rouge did was merge the noir concept — which makes the viewer co-conspirator — with the camera. He did it in the camera itself and many references to the camera in the film and the play within. It worked and I think and revolutionised one corner of cinema. I just rewatched in wonder.
He knows what he did, and he knows one of his predecessors in this tradition is Elvis. Elvis was incidentally a singer but primarily a showman who by accident or design merged what white America thought was Black abandon with Black music (or pretty close). The energy in the Elvis’ shaking was no different in the theatrical context.
You can easily see why Baz was attracted to this and why he chose as he did. But these were bad choices. The camera was what moved in Moulin, which meant us.
Here no matter motion and energy, we are in the audience. Except for an encounter with Nixon and later Howard Hughes, Elvis was a simple man in a simple life.
Moulin Rouge advanced so much this seems tame, where it should be as radical an experience as seeing Elvis new. I did.
Posted in 2022
Ted’s Evaluation — 3 of 3: Worth watching.