Baz Luhrmann

Moulin Rouge

Interviewed by James Mottram

What do you think "Moulin Rouge" is about?

I think it's about love above all things. A love of the theatre and a love of art. I think our way of telling it is very Australian, but the story is absolutely universal. It's what I call red-curtain cinematics. There are some basic rules. One, you must know how it ends when you begin. Two, as with "Strictly Ballroom", which is primarily the myth of overcoming oppression, it is set in a heightened created world, a land far, far away. And three, a device to keep the audience at all times awake to the experience that they are watching a movie. It is not about naturalism. These three rules allow the audience to be in agreement with the film, a contract. It's become our cinematic language - though it is not exclusively Australian, let me make that clear.

You use popular songs, like Elton John's "Your Song" and Madonna's "Like A Virgin" Why?

The song choices were not about 'wouldn't it be groovy?' or 'wouldn't it be fun?'. Firstly, the idea of modern music in a period setting is a very old idea. Judy Garland did it. It's popular music. It helps the audience understand and connect with character and story.

Do you regard the film as Australian as it was shot there, or American as it was funded by Fox?

If you start talking about films that were made in Australia with a predominantly Australian cast, but where the financing has come from an American major, then we'd have to take a very long list of identifiably Australian films and say they don't count. To me, is this an Australian film? Absolutely.

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"Moulin Rouge" is scheduled to open in the UK on 7th September 2001.