Come What May; or, Unlike Satine, My Hate For Moulin Rouge Will Never Die

Hello, dear readers! In honour of the month of love, I wanted to do something to show how much I appreciate your support. So as I endeavour to have a posting schedule, let me kick off February with a rant. It’s been a while.

Dearest readers, I detest Moulin Rouge.

I can already hear the horrified gasps.

This rant is not going to be spoiler-free, but you should read it anyway, and save yourself watching this God awful excuse for a romance.

I can understand why, on the surface, people think it’s a romantic musical. The main character is Christian, a writer looking for love to inspire his artistry. He moves to Paris, gets involved with an acting troupe, and meets Satine, the boudoir performer from the Moulin Rouge. Satine wants to be a real actress, and attempts to seduce the Duke so he’ll turn the building in to a theatre. But she confuses the Duke for Christian, and they fall in love. Typical rom-com plot. Add in the radio-lifted love songs, and you have the basis for a good musical.

But the surface is as shallow as the rest of the movie. From there on out, it’s a cluster of bad decisions and nauseating hyperbole.

Christian’s driving motivator is love. He loves love, worships love; all you need is love! Despite this, he has never been in love himself, until he meets Satine. And this is where my main issue with the movie comes from.

Satine doesn’t want him around at first. She knows what she wants in life, and she knows that Christian can’t provide that for her. This prompts The Elephant Love Medley, a song which many consider to be the best song in the movie. I admit, in different circumstances I’d have liked it more. But the scene is played out as Christian ignores Satine’s refusals, and follows her around the roof-top telling her she needs love. The song might as well be renamed “No Means Convince Me”. And annoyingly, he does. Despite Satine’s promise of “I won’t give in to you”, she succumbs to his insistent talk of love. Love of a woman he’s just met.

So already, the relationship is doomed in my eyes. Christian isn’t in love with Satine. Like so many bohemian artists, Christian is love with an abstract idea. He loves love, and it becomes his obsession, projected on to a woman who never stood a real chance against him. She is his Manic Pixie Dream Girl, made artisan by her time period.

Ultimately, no one truly loves Satine. Not even Satine. Her employer knows she is dying, but doesn’t tell her until the movie’s climax. That’s a weird thing on its own, but at that point in the movie you’ve stopped questioning. The Duke wants to own her, and his obsession drives him to try to force himself on her. Satine would rather surrender her own happiness than leave this world hurting the people around her. She is a glutton for punishment, and has the biggest heart of all the characters.

Christian does not handle rejection well. This is the part of the movie which sickens me. When you’re in love, you do anything to keep the person you care about most happy. Satine does it when she gives herself over to the Duke so that Christian will live. But Christian doesn’t do that. When Satine breaks his heart, he wait until she is on stage. He waits until her big dream is coming true, and he does something so heinous that I can’t stand to watch this scene.

He pays her. In front of all the patrons, in a packed theatre, he announces her past. “I’ve come to pay my whore.” It doesn’t matter how hurt you are; for someone obsessed with what love is, and feeling love, and spreading the message of love like it’s an STD, Christian never understands what love truly is. And Satine suffers for it. She sacrificed everything so that Christian would live, and she is left a broken mess on stage.

Of course, the hero can’t leave things like that. People might think he was a bad guy or something. So it takes an extra reminding him that love is just swell, and then Christian is back on the train to Amore. Choo. Choo.

The movie ends with a passionate love duet where Satine and Christian reconcile. The villain lets this happen, watching the woman he wanted with another man and the boss of the Moulin Rouge take back the deeds to the theatre.

And then Satine dies.

It’s sad, it’s artistic, and it’s a reminder that love is fleeting, and we should seize every day of it that we have. It supplies Christian with enough angst that he manages to finish his story.

And I hate that! I hate that Satine’s journey became Christian’s. Christian watches from the side-lines as Satine pretends to love another man for the sake of theatre. Satine is the driving force behind everything, and she dies. A more fitting ending would have been to have Christian killed by the Duke. Christian dying in the name of love. Instead, we have a woman dying for the sake of a man’s art.

It’s not romantic. It’s not even well-crafted. The cinematography is rapid, most of the dialogue is expositional and clunky, and the characters are flat and uninteresting. But this is one of those movies which everyone seems to love. Even my Kelly loves it, and that makes no sense to me.

Moulin Rouge is a musical which only one saving grace; El Tango de Roxanne. It’s a tango version of a song by The Police. I don’t need anymore from life. The acting in the movie was great, but the writers should spend some time with actual people before trying to write them.

And so dear readers, we reach the end of another blog post. Thank you so much for your continued support. As always, the customary question:

Do you like this movie? What is your favourite love song? And do you have a musical which is just romantic to you?

Let me know your thoughts!

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About Stephanie Gallon

I'm 22 years old with first class honours in BA (Hons) English and Creative Writing. I'm currently studying MA English Studies. I'm an author, a blogger, and a zealot of all things written. I write on everything from comics, to feminism, to advice on university life.
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