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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
When director John Huston appeared on the BBC's "Desert Island Discs" program in 1973, host Roy Plomley told him that this movie was a personal favorite of his. Huston replied "I don't think it's one of my best films", adding that 1950s censorship constraints had made it impossible to tell the story of Henri de Toulouse Lautrec's life honestly. See more »
When Henri falls down the stairs toward the end of the film, his legs suddenly appear regular sized. See more »
I always mean to sketch you like that, with your hands in your hair. But, the sight is so enchanting I forget to do anything about it.
You're nice, Toulouse.
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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.
Anyone who does not think that John Huston has a broad range as a film-maker needs to watch this and "The Dead." While he spent much of his career making gritty adventure-dramas like "The Maltese Falcon," "The Treasure of the Sierra Madre," and "The Man who Would be King," he also took the time to create well-crafted pieces like "Moulin Rouge."
Jose Ferrer has an astounding, almost unbelievable, performance as Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, a painter from late-1800's Paris who was crippled in his childhood by a horse that ran over his legs. He now spends his days in the raunchy restaurant/dance hall populated by artists, dancers, drunks, and vagrants, sketching away at posters and portraits. Ferrer brings out Henri completely, depicting him as a man who tried to run from his problems using his art and his alcohol.
The film itself has a tenancy to be a little too flashy and gaudy at moments, but Huston manages to keep most of it grounded in the dramatics of the characters. Collete Marchand is also very noteworthy for her performance as a prostitute that befriends Henri. Marcel Vertes' production and costume design won well-deserved Oscars.
A genuinely moving film, a work of art in its own right.
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