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A fictionalized account of the latter part of the life of French artist Henri de Toulouse Lautrec (1864-1901) is presented, he who is arguably most renowned professionally for immortalizing the characters of the Paris can-can dance hall, the Moulin Rouge, on canvas. This phase of his story begins in 1890. Born into aristocracy, Toulouse-Lautrec moves to Paris to pursue his art as he hangs out at the Moulin Rouge where he feels like he fits in being a misfit among other misfits. His misfit status is due to his diminutive physical stature, his legs which were broken and stopped growing following a childhood fall down some stairs. Because of the way he looks, he believes he is never destined to experience the true love of a woman. That lack of love in his life may change as he meets two women. The first is prostitute Marie Charlet, who he saves from imprisonment in a white knight act. Their relationship ends up being a turbulent one, the downs where each feels the need to hurt the other ...Written by
Colette Marchand was the only Best Actress in a Supporting Role Oscar nominee that year that was from a Best Picture nominated movie. See more »
When Henri Lautrec arrives at the gallery for the showing of his pictures, as he 'walks' in, his shadow on the ground clearly shows Jose Ferrer's legs tucked behind him as he walks (on his knees). See more »
Comte Alphonse de Toulouse-Lautrec:
You should be horsewhipped for smearing the name of Toulouse-Lautrec over every kiosk in Paris. That revolting poster is a disgrace.
I am sorry you do not like my work, Father. But I shall continue to sign it as I please, for it is my name and it is my work.
Comte Alphonse de Toulouse-Lautrec:
Work? A pretext to hang about cheap dance halls and drink all night. You call that pornographic trash work?
Yes, I call it work. On this I am more of an authority than you, Father. You've never worked. Our kind never did. We are the grand ...
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Opening credits prologue: His pallette is caked, his brushes are dry, yet the genius of Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec is as fresh and alive as the day he laid them down.
Here for a brief moment, they shall be restored to his hands, and he and his beloved city and his time shall live again.
Whether or not the film accurately portrays the life and personality of Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec correctly, one thing you certainly have to say about "Moulin Rouge" is that it is a gorgeous movie. Not surprisingly, it won two Oscars--for Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, Color and Best Costume Design, Color. I am also a bit surprised it wasn't nominated for Best Cinematography, Color--as the film was exquisitely filmed--giving it a look and color that is second to none. It also received quite a few important nominations--including Best Picture, Best Actor and Best Director (among others). So, it is clearly a standout film for the era. I also suspect that the film might have been overlooked a bit over the years since, as an even more spectacular biopic of a painter, "Lust for Life" gained even more notoriety in 1956. Both films are absolutely gorgeous.
As to the life story of Lautrec, I am far pickier than most because I am a (among other things) a retired history teacher. I look for inaccuracies others might not notice. So, when I see Lautrec brooding CONSTANTLY in the film, I ask why they almost never show him smiling or acting human?! Sure, the real life character was a pathetic man in many ways, but he was a man--a three-dimensional man. Although Jose Ferrer did good in many ways, his performance lacked the fullness of a real man. He got the main and depression quite well--just not anything else. I also think that the film sanitized and over-glamorized Lautrec's relationship with one particular prostitute--whereas the real Lautrec had MANY sexual relationships--many. In the film, however, he hangs out with prostitutes and is quite chaste! Part of this, I am sure, is due to the Production Code. Sure, it was being relaxes in the 1950s--but not THAT much! Overall, a wonderful film but one that isn't perfect--but incredibly beautiful--breathtakingly so. For a great double-feature, try watching this immediately preceding or followed by "Lust for Life".
By the way, I realized why they changed Lautrec's life here and there for dramatic reasons, but he never fell down the steps and broke his legs. The legs actually were very brittle and broke doing much more mundane activities--such as falling out of a chair and breaking one of them. In other words, his genetic problems caused the break and the dwarfism--not some dramatic fall.
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