Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
Actors: José Ferrer, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Suzanne Flon, Claude Nollier, Katherine Kath
Genres: Indie & Art House, Classics, Drama
Nominated* for seven Academy Awards(r) (including Best Picture) and winner of two, this visually stunning biography of master artist Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec is a "painting come to life" (Time)! "Flawlessly directed" (The... more »
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No Absinthe of Malice?
Robert Morris | Dallas, Texas | 02/11/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
Many of those who have seen the film directed by Baz Luhrmann and starring Nicole Kidman (2001) may not know about this film which appeared about 50 years earlier. Based on Pierre LaMure's biographical novel and directed by John Huston, this Moulin Rouge focuses entirely on the life of Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. Two years previously, Jose Ferrer received an Academy Award for leading actor in Cyrano de Bergerac. He was nominated again in 1952 for his portrayal of Toulouse Lautrec (he also plays the painter's father, Comte Alphonse de Toulouse-Lautrec, a small but significant role in this film), losing to Gary Cooper (High Noon).
How interesting that each of Ferrer's two greatest performances on-screen is of a French aristocrat with a significant physical deformity who encounters only failure and despair in his love life. In any event, Ferrer is brilliant in a cast of consistently high quality. As chanteuse Jane Avril, Zsa Zsa Gabor essentially plays herself: beautiful, vain, melodramatic, self-absorbed, good-hearted, and charming. Also noteworthy are Colette Marshand (as Marie Charlet), Suzanne Flon (Myrianne Haven), Katherine Kath (La Goulue), and Christopher Lee (Georges Seurat). Although nominated for several Academy Awards, this film received only two (for Color Art Direction and Color Costume Design), both richly deserved. Huston skillfully directs an excellent cast while blending seamlessly Oswald Morris' cinematography with George Auric's musical score.
Born in 1864, Toulouse-Lautrec spent his childhood years on family estates near Albi, with Paris becoming his home in 1872. The victim of a genetic bone condition that made him vulnerable to fractures, he walked with a cane by age thirteen and grew to be only four feet eleven inches tall. One example of Huston's genius is the fact that much of the film is shot from Toulouse-Lautrec's perspective. That is, we see the aristocrat-artist's world almost literally through his eyes as he sits and sketches in the music hall, then drags himself to his stunted feet and slowly, painfully resumes his late-night debauchery.
In frail health throughout his adult years, Toulouse-Lautrec exacerbated his situation with alcoholism which no doubt hastened his death in 1901. Lying in bed and near death, he learns from his astonished father that his paintings will be on exhibition at the Louvre. ("The Louvre, Henri, the Louvre! I did not know, Henri, I did not understand....") This final scene reminds me of the final scene in Goodbye, Mr. Chips (1939), starring Robert Donat. Both Toulouse-Lautrec and Charles Chipping are near death, barely conscious. Both imagine being visited by those they once knew, bidding them a fond farewell. For Toulouse-Lautrec, the performers from the Moulin Rouge; for Chipping, many of the boys he taught over a period of several decades at Brookfield School.
This film is a feast for the eyes. At least for about two hours, it enables us to return to Paris near the end of the 19th century, to a world which remains vivid in the great art of Seaurat, Renoir, Degas, Monet, Manet, Bonnard....and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec."
First Widescreen movie was "The Robe" in 1953.
Robert E. Rodden II | Peoria, IL. United States | 12/31/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I don't want to offend anyone, but the reason this wonderful film arrives in full screen on dvd, is because it was shot that way. The very first widescreen movie was "The Robe", 1953. So any film which you buy on DVD before 1953 will be a 4:3 aspect ratio. We as movie going fanatics back then didn't know any better. "The Robe" was produced in widescreen as a way of drawing people back into movie houses, since theater goers were staying home to watch old movies on 4:3 televisons.
So, if you're upset about the aspect ratio of this DVD, feel better about it. There never was a widescreen version of this movie. Enjoy it for lush sets and wonderful performances, all directed by a man who knew exactly how to use every single inch of a 4:3 screen, John Huston. He made some of the greatest movies ever produced in that aspect ratio, and this is one of them."
Why not on DVD
rbosler2 | SUNLAND, CA USA | 08/08/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"When you compare this film with the current remake you must wonder why the remake. It will be a real loss to the community of those who collect great films if this is not made available on DVD. What must one do to encourage the DVD effort?"
A Touching Masterpiece
rbosler2 | 02/17/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The 1952 version of Moulin Rouge is truly a masterpiece. It captures the struggles and the life of Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec beautifully. I found the movie profoundly touching as it displayed the pain felt by Henri as he searched for love and friendship, but could not find any that did not prey on his money. It also showed how he made his famous lithographs and paintings. I encourage everyone to see this movie... and to view the art of Toulouse-Lautrec as well!!!"