Moulin Rouge


Moulin Rouge Hotel

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The Moulin Rouge Hotel was a hotel and casino located in west Las Vegas, Nevada, that is listed on the United States National Register of Historic Places. The first desegregated hotel casino, it was popular with many of the black entertainers of the time, who would entertain at the other hotels and casinos and stay at the Moulin Rouge.

History

The Moulin Rouge opened on May 24, 1955, built at a cost of $3.5 million. It was the first integrated hotel casino in Las Vegas, perhaps in the nation. Until that time almost all of the casinos on The Strip were totally segregated—off limits to blacks unless they were the entertainment or labor force.

The hotel was located in west Las Vegas, where the black population was forced to live. West Las Vegas was bounded by Washington Avenue on the north, Bonanza Road on the south, H Street on the west, and A Street on the east.

It was during this era that Will Max Schwartz saw the need for an integrated hotel. Will, along with other white investors Louis Rubin who was the creator of the Rubin Sandwich and was also owner of Chandler's Restaurant in New York City, New York and Alexander Bisno who worked in real estate in California, including black boxing great Joe Louis, built and opened the Moulin Rouge at 900 W. Bonanza Road. This location placed it in a prime location between the predominantly white area of the strip and the largely black west side. The complex itself consisted of two stuccoed buildings that housed the hotel, the casino, and a theater. The exterior had the hotel's name in stylized cursive writing and murals depicting dancing and fancy cars. The sign was designed by Betty Willis, creator of the "Welcome to Las Vegas" sign on the south end of the strip.

When it opened, the Moulin Rouge was fully integrated top to bottom, from employees to patrons to entertainers.

The hotel made the June 20th, 1955, cover of Life magazine, with a photo of two showgirls. A veritable "A" list of 50s- and 60s-era performers regularly showed to party until dawn. Great black singers and musicians such as Sammy Davis Jr., Nat King Cole, Pearl Bailey, and Louis Armstrong would perform often. These artists were banned from gambling or staying at the hotels on the strip. In addition, white performers including George Burns, Jack Benny, and Frank Sinatra would drop in after their shows to gamble and perform. Eventually management added a 2:30am "Third Show" to accommodate the crowds.

In November of 1955 the Moulin Rouge closed its doors. Some say it was a victim of casino oversaturation (the Moulin Rouge was one of four new hotels that ran into major financial difficulties that year). Some say it was poor management. The exact cause will probably never be known. By December 1955, the Moulin Rouge had declared bankruptcy.

The short but vibrant life of the Moulin Rouge helped the civil-rights movement in Las Vegas. For a while the hotel was owned by the first African American woman to hold a Nevada Gaming License, Sarann Knight-Preddy. Many of those who enjoyed and were employed by the hotel became activists and supporters. The hotel was also the spark needed to bring an end to segregation on the strip.

In 1960, under threat of a protest march down the Las Vegas Strip against racial discrimination by Las Vegas casinos, a meeting was hurriedly arranged by then-Governor Grant Sawyer between hotel owners, city and state officials, local black leaders, and then-NAACP president James McMillan. The meeting was held on March 26 at the closed Moulin Rouge. This resulted in an agreement to desegregate all strip casinos. Hank Greenspun, who would become an important media figure in the town, mediated the agreement.

In 1992 the building was listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

Although the Moulin Rouge complex remained shuttered for decades, many plans had been hatched to rebuild and reopen the cultural landmark. But on May 29, 2003, a fire ripped through the buildings, almost entirely gutting the complex.[1] No witnesses have ever been found, no one has come forward with information leading to the cause of the fire, and to this day all that remains is the facade with its signature stylized name.

January 2004 saw the Moulin Rouge sold again for $12.1 million to the Moulin Rouge Development Corporation. The stylized "Moulin Rouge" neon sign was turned back on.[2] A $200 million renovation of the site was announced but was never completed. (Credit: Wikipedia).

 

Cabaret

Moulin Rouge (French for Red Windmill) is a cabaret built in 1889 by Josep Oller, who also owned the Paris Olympia. Close to Montmartre in the Paris red-light district of Pigalle on Boulevard de Clichy in the 18th arrondissement, it is marked by the facsimile of a red windmill on its roof.

The Moulin Rouge is a tourist destination, offering musical dance entertainment for adult visitors from around the world. Much of the romance of turn-of-the-century France is still present in the club's decor.

Notable performers at the Moulin Rouge have included La Goulue, Josephine Baker, Frank Sinatra, Yvette Guilbert, Jane Avril, Mistinguett, Le Pétomane, Édith Piaf and others. The Moulin Rouge is also the subject of paintings by post-impressionist painter Toulouse-Lautrec.

"Moulin Rouge" is the title of a book by Pierre La Mure, which was adapted as a 1952 film called Moulin Rouge, starring Jose Ferrer and Zsa-Zsa Gabor. Several other films have had the same title, including 2001's Moulin Rouge!, starring Ewan McGregor and Nicole Kidman. Both the 1952 and 2001 films were nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture

Film

Moulin Rouge! is a 2001 Academy Award-winning jukebox musical film directed by Baz Luhrmann. It tells the story of a young British poet/writer, Christian, who falls in love with the star of the Moulin Rouge, cabaret actress and courtesan Satine. It uses the colourful musical setting of the Montmartre Quarter of Paris, France. The film was nominated for eight Oscars, and won two; for art direction and costume design. It was shot at Fox Studios in Sydney, Australia.

In 2006 Moulin Rouge ranked #25 on the American Film Institute's list of best musicals.

Plot summary

The year is 1900 and Christian (Ewan McGregor), a grizzled, unkempt British writer who came to the village of Montmartre, Paris at the height of the Bohemian movement a year before, sits in a garret overlooking the closed-down theatre Moulin Rouge and writing on a typewriter. The story he is writing is about both himself and the woman he loved, Satine (Nicole Kidman).

In 1899, Christian arrives in Paris a naive and idealistic writer, and falls in with a group of Bohemians who frequent the Moulin Rouge. They are attempting to produce a theatrical production, "Spectacular Spectacular," which the Moulin Rouge's master Harold Zidler (Jim Broadbent) plans to put on at the cabaret. The Bohemians, chiefly Toulouse-Lautrec (John Leguizamo) among them, are impressed with Christian's gift with words and insist that he write "Spectacular Spectactular." Once they discover that Christian is an amazing writer and should help them with their show, they come up with an elaborate plan of presenting him to Satine, a beautiful courtesan, in the hopes that she will be impressed with him and persuade Zidler to hire him as the play's writer.

Satine understands the mercenary nature of her work, though she dreams of leaving the Moulin Rouge to become a real actress. Through a series of misunderstandings, she mistakes Christian for the wealthy and powerful Duke who will invest in "Spectacular Spectacular," she is charmed by his poetry. She declares that she has fallen in love with him, but is shocked to realize he's actually a penniless Bohemian poet.

Soon after, the real Duke (Richard Roxburgh) arrives and finds Christian and Satine together. Christian's quick wit and Satine's charm fool the Duke into believing that they were rehearsing "Spectacular Spectacular." The main cast improvises the plot of the show on the spot: a beautiful Indian courtesan has her kingdom invaded by an "evil maharaja." She sets out to seduce him to save her kingdom, but accidentally seduces and then falls in love with a penniless sitar player. The two must hide their love and evade the maharaja, though it is implied that one of them may die at the end of the story. (It is soon realized that the theme of their play foreshadows what happens in the film's plot.) The Duke agrees to support the show, but he quickly reveals that he is a violently jealous man who will shut down the Moulin Rouge if he does not get Satine to himself. Nevertheless, he accepts that she will be busy with rehearsals and in close contact with Christian, the writer.

Christian and Satine fall in love, while Zidler struggles to keep the Duke interested in the show even though Satine has not yet spent the night with him. Zidler also discovers that Satine is dying of consumption, but does not tell anyone because "The show must go on." Meanwhile, Christian continues to develop the play, in which the courtesan and the penniless sitar player end up together. The Duke, however, does not appreciate the ending and tells the cast that the courtesan must end up in the arms of the maharaja. To convince him to change his mind, Satine finally agrees to spend the night with the Duke. Christian is overcome with jealousy while Satine has dinner with the Duke, who offers her everything she has dreamt of. However, when Satine spots Christian on the street below, she refuses the Duke's offer, and he tries to take Satine by force. After she escapes, Satine and Christian plan to run away.

By now, the Duke has realized Satine's cuckoldry, and informs Zidler that, if the "maharaja" does not get his "courtesan," he will have the "penniless sitar player" killed. Nonetheless, Zidler must inform Satine of her terminal condition before she agrees to give up on the escape plan. She goes to Christian and lies to him, convincing him that her love was an act in the hopes that this will inspire him to leave Paris and therefore save his life.

As the show debuts, Satine performs wearily, knowing that her time is almost up. Christian, unwilling to give up on her, confronts her backstage. When she tries to drive him off again, he takes the place of the show's hero, throwing money at her feet to "pay his whore," and storming off the stage. Satine confesses her love for him in the form of his secret song, and Christian and Satine reconcile in full view of the audience and the Duke. The Duke attempts to shoot Christian, but Zidler drives him off. The audience applauds what they perceived as a good drama, but backstage, Satine is overcome by her illness and dies in Christian's arms. As her final wish, she asks Christian to tell their story.

A year later, still in his garret overlooking the now-deserted red windmill, Christian finally types the last page of his work, ending it with the couplet, "The greatest thing you will ever learn, is just to love, and be loved in return."

Background

Inspiration

Some plot details, specifically the poor artist and his dying lover, bear relation to the Giacomo Puccini opera La bohème (which Luhrmann has also directed several times), including references to the "Bohemian" subculture. Otherwise, the plot resembles that of Giuseppe Verdi's opera La traviata (and its source, the novel The Lady of the Camellias) in great detail. Luhrmann is said to have been inspired to make the movie after watching Dil Se (1998) by director Mani Ratnam.

Moulin Rouge! is a cinematic musical that has a storyline and structure that is said to be inspired and influenced largely by Italian grand opera: exuberant music, colourful visuals, elaborate sets and intricate costumes. It also has some elements of Bollywood films such as a simple story line with a simple conflict, a melodramatic heroine and two-dimensional characters, with the added touch of a play within a play, "Spectacular Spectacular," which itself may have been based on an ancient Sanskrit play The Little Clay Cart. In addition to the Bollywood influence, Baz Luhrmann has revealed in the DVD's voice-over commentary that he drew from the ancient Greek tale of Orpheus and Eurydice. Orpheus was a musical genius far surpassing anyone in his world; the film-makers chose to replicate this by using songs from the mid-to-late 20th century, many decades after the film's 1899 setting. In this way, Christian would appear to the other characters to be an innovative musician and writer.

Production

Production on the film began in November 1999 and was completed in May 2000, with a budget of just over $50 million. Nicole Kidman reportedly wasn't interested in doing the musical until she heard Baz Luhrmann would be directing it.[citation needed]Filming generally went smoothly, with the only major problem occurring when star Nicole Kidman injured her knee while filming one of the more complicated dance sequences. The production also overran in its shooting schedule and had to be out of the Fox Studios in Sydney to make way for Star Wars: Episode II: Attack of the Clones (in which Ewan McGregor also starred). This necessitated some pick-up shots being filmed in Madrid.

In the liner notes to the film's Special Edition DVD, Luhrmann writes that "[the] whole stylistic premise has been to decode what the Moulin Rouge was to the audiences of 1899 and express that same thrill and excitement in a way to which contemporary movie-goers can relate." With that in mind, the film takes well-known popular music, mostly drawn from the MTV Generation, and anachronizes it into a tale set in a turn-of-the-century Paris cabaret. The movie also features editing that several critics compared to a music video, involving swirling camera motion, loud music, dancing, and frenetic cutting. Some of the songs sampled include "Chamma Chamma" from the Hindi movie China Gate, Queen's "The Show Must Go On" (arranged in operatic format), David Bowie's (originally sung by Nat King Cole) rendition of the Eden Ahbez jazz standard "Nature Boy," "Lady Marmalade" by LaBelle (the Christina Aguilera/P!nk/Mýa/Lil’ Kim cover commissioned for the film), Madonna's "Like a Virgin" and "Material Girl," Elton John's "Your Song," the titular number of "The Sound of Music," "Roxanne" by The Police (in a tango format), and one of the few films to use "Smells Like Teen Spirit" by Nirvana. The film uses so much popular music that it took Luhrmann almost two years to secure all the rights to the songs.

Release and reception

Originally set for release on December 25, 2000 as a high profile Oscar contender, 20th Century Fox eventually moved the release to the following spring so director Baz Luhrmann would have more time during post production. The film premiered at the Cannes Film Festival on May 9, 2001—making it the festival's opening title. A limited release on May 18, 2001 in the United States followed, and the film was released to theaters across the United States on June 1, 2001.

The film was an instant success in limited release, grossing $185,095 in only two theaters on opening weekend. Representatives from the studio said that many audiences even burst into applause during the screenings. The numbers continued to increase over the Memorial Day weekend, with the film making $254,098. When it expanded into over 2500 theaters, it made $14.2 million in its first weekend of wide release. The film eventually grossed over $57 million domestically. It had a brief re-release in October 2001 for Oscar consideration, with Luhrmann stating that his intent was to get Kidman and McGregor nominated.

The movie was even more successful overseas. It broke box office records in Australia where it was given a rare theatrical re-release at the end of 2001, and managed to find a stable audience in almost every country. It eventually made over $120 million internationally, resulting in a total of over $177 million worldwide.

The critical and financial success of the film renewed interest in the then-moribund musical genre, and subsequently films such as Chicago, The Phantom of the Opera, Dreamgirls, and Hairspray were produced, fueling a renaissance of the genre. The film also helped propel Kidman onto the A-list, as she followed this film with the successes The Others and The Hours, the latter of which won Kidman the Oscar for Best Actress.

Awards

The film was selected by the National Board of Review as the best film of 2001 over many other contenders. After that, it picked up six Golden Globe nominations including Best Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy, Best Actress in a Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy (for Nicole Kidman), Best Actor in a Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy (for Ewan McGregor), Best Original Score, Best Director (for Baz Luhrmann) and Best Song ("Come What May"). It won three including the coveted Best Picture trophy. A few weeks later, it received 13 nominations at the BAFTA Awards, making it the most nominated film of the year for that ceremony. It took home three, including Best Supporting Actor for Jim Broadbent.

When Oscar nominations were announced, the film received eight nominations including Best Actress in a Leading Role (Nicole Kidman) and Best Picture. The film was not nominated for Best Director (Baz Luhrmann); commenting on this during the Oscar ceremony, host Whoopi Goldberg remarked, "I guess Moulin Rouge! just directed itself." It took home two Oscars when the winners were announced for Best Costume Design and Best Art Direction. At the lower-profile MTV Movie Awards, Kidman took home the Best Actress trophy and Kidman and McGregor took home Best Musical Sequence.

It should be noted that "Come What May" (the only original song in the film) was disqualified from nomination for an Oscar because it was originally written (but unused) for Luhrmann's previous film William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet and not written expressly for Moulin Rouge! (Credit: Wikipedia).

Websites

Moulin Rouge official website

Official Baz Luhrmann website

Club Moulin Rouge

Profiles

Nicole Kidman

Burlesque

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