by Marty Demarest

One of the critical and commercial successes of last summer, Baz Luhrman's color-saturated musical fantasia Moulin Rouge has finally reached a medium as chaotic and eclectic as the film itself: DVD. The film, presented on the first disk in this two-disk set, is packed with elaborate juxtapositions of time, place and temperament that both capture the viewer's imagination and threaten to tear the film apart. Given the irrelevance of the plot, Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor may as well have been playing Nicole and Ewan, instead of the singer Sateen and the writer Christian. But a few things, like Jim Broadbent's superb acting job as the titular club's impresario and the director's complete devotion to exploring the themes of love, manage to keep everything turning in synchronization.

So it's even more impressive when you start exploring the second DVD in the set and discover how extreme many of the original ideas behind the film were. Witnessing the director and writer talk about the development of the story is exhausting, and by the time they're finished, the resultant film seems to be a model of restraint and simplicity. One of the film's highlights -- a tango to "Roxanne" -- is presented with all the originally filmed camera angles intact, allowing the home viewer to switch perspectives at will, which both enlightens the editing process and manages to be a ton of fun. And many of the other musical numbers are featured in their extended, original versions, which give some nice insights into elements of the story that fell by the wayside during the final edit.

But where the DVD really shines is in its copious selection of hidden features -- or "Easter Eggs." Take a look at John Leguizamo's "Star Card" in the section of cast profiles, and press "up" on your DVD remote control to be rewarded with a scene of the comic during his costume fitting. Other hidden treasures include Kidman and McGregor losing their focus during the filming of a song, descending into laughter and home-brew choreography, and a clip of the Luhrman dancing ecstatically around one of the film's soundstages.

  • or