Monday, May 13, 2013

MOVIE MUSIC MOMENT: ELEPHANT LOVE MEDLEY / MOULIN ROUGE!




"Elephant Love Medley" by Ewan McGregor and Nicole Kidman
as seen and heard in
Moulin Rouge! (2001)

In honor of last weekend's release of "The Great Gatsby" I have chosen to highlight my favorite musical number from one of director Baz Luhrmann's earlier works: the "Elephant Love Medley" from "Moulin Rouge!" The whole number is set during a tryst between Christian and the much-desired Satine. Christian has fallen for the courtesan and uses the power of the musical they're both in to convince Satine that she loves him back. The "silly love song" commences with the familiar adage that The Beatles set in motion, "All You Need is Love," before ramping up the tempo and passion with "I Was Made For Lovin' You" by KISS. Upon my first viewing it became one of the best remixed medleys I've heard in all my days. 

Over a dozen love songs are sewn into the number as McGregor and Kidman, doing their own singing, physically flirt their way around the dimensions of the park's elephantine structure. The splendor crescendos from David Bowie's "Heroes" to Dolly Parton's (though let's credit Whitney Houston, shall we?) "I Will Always Love You." The climax (quite literally, as I remember from my musical genre class at film school that songs/dances between the love interests is virtually an insert for intercourse) is complete when the sparks fly and our view soars up to the skyline of a Paris night while the operatic moon takes over the vocals. We're then left with John Leguizamo as Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec putting a final phrase on the table in his own melancholic way.

I never tire of watching this scene and even though I know it through and through the rest of the film has faded in my memory over time. I owe it another visit but prefer to do so in theaters. In fact, it's this very sequence that led to my conclusion that Baz Luhrmann would be one of the best visionary filmmakers on the planet to orchestrate a film in 3D. "The Great Gatsby" proved this theory perfectly. I could see the "Elephant Love Medley" truly benifitting from that treatment. I wonder if we'll ever get that conversion job. What do you think of this number and/or film? I'm sure there are lots of other Movie Music Moments to pull from "Moulin Rouge!," easily among the top musicals of the 21st Century. Got one in mind or from another film altogether? Feel free to share it with us in the comments below.

Until next time, keep watching and stay listening.

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