Moulin Rouge

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“Le Tango de Roxanne” scene - which is in fact three scenes intercut - contributes to the overall success of Baz Luhrmann’s Moulin Rouge in several ways. Specific techniques, including lighting and music, are vital contributors to the effect of this scene.

The long shadows and the cold, blue light in the tower are captured by a PAN across the room prior to Satire’s dramatic entrance à la Marlene Dietrich. An ECU of her face shows the minute diamond shapes of which her veil is made, suggesting both her entrapment in the Moulin Rouge and the diamonds she is being offered.

The light falls in diamond shapes which can also be seen in the window panes and the back of Satire’s chair. A motif throughout the entire film, diamonds symbolise Satine’s public persona as a courtesan and arc therefore associated with the Duke, as is the use of blue light. Both diamonds and blue light are used in the “Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend” scene where Satire makes her first appearance and establishes her public persona as a courtesan. This relates to the theme of the commerciality of women, of women selling themselves to make a living, linking the use of lighting to the overall success of the film.

In these scenes, there is a strong use of chiaroscuro, as well as a contrast between the blue lighting in the tower and the red light used in the dance to suggest sex, prostitution and jealousy. Cross-cuts to the tower emphasise the tower lighting; this redness links with the tower when the camera cuts back to Satine beside the fire. Other links between the tower and the tango include the use of black and white. The shadows of the tower relate to the black costumes of the dancers, as do the lights on the white skin of Satire and the Duke.

These links emphasise the relationship between the dance and the events in the tower which follow the progression of the tango. At the beginning, a woman’s sexuality is shown to enslave a man, as when the Duke agrees to let Satire...
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