Postmodern Moulin Rouge Henri Ramone de Toulouse-Lautrec At the Moulin Rouge’ (1895)
Outline 1. Introduction: A. Starting Questions B. Setting & Plot; C. Major Argument 2. StructuralistMarxist Approach: • Binaries • Plot and Motif Toulouse’ roles • Actants Who is the real opponent? 3. Semiotic Approach -- MR as a postmodern pastiche on love • Songs in the Musical Scenes • Self-Reflexive Signs • Signs of Minorities 4. Moulin Rouge in Today’s Context Next Time
Starting Questions • Do you like the film? Is it a great love story? How is it compared with some other famous love stories, such as Titanic? • What ‘patterns’ have you found in the story? (plot, intertext, genre, irony, pun and innuendo, etc.) • How do you relate the film to contemporary views of love?
Introduction – Fin-de-siecle Setting Montmarte -- Many artists, from Berlioz to Picasso, lived, worked, and played here. These creative spirits (and their cafe, the Lapin Agile) helped keep this area the city's intellectual and artistic center up until the first World War. Moulin Rouge (The Red Windmill): “A kingdom of night-time pleasures where the rich and powerful came to play with the young and beautiful creatures of the underworld. ”
A. Setting (2) Bohemian spirit: The state of mind and way of life began in about 1830 and continued until 1914. It was a time and place where misfits spent their lives outside society, choosing penury, squalor and freedom over prosperity and convention. They protested against the bourgeois, against a social structure based on money, against the increasing uniformity and drabness of existence. Bohemia had always been a lotus land for misunderstood and unproductive genius; it had given an artistic aura to vagrants without talent.
B. Plot: • narrator (1) Toulouse; narrator (2) Christian; • Story: Christian/Satine vs. the Duke • The story within the story: Indian courtesan/penniless sitar player vs. maharaja • Intertexts: the myth of Orpheus, La Bohème; [courtesan story] Madame Butterfly, Duma’s Camille/Verdi’s La Traviata 茶花女 –more later
Note: Orphean myth: Orpheus, the son of Apollo and Calliope, has the power to enchant with his music. When his love, Eurydice was killed, Orpheus descended into the Underworldto plead for her return. Enchanting Hades, monarch of the Underworld, with his music, Orpheus is permitted to leave with Eurydice on condition he does not look back to see if she is following him. When Orpheus nears the entrance to the underworld, fear overpowers him, he turns back to see if Eurydice is following, and he loses her forever.
Main Idea: Postmodern Pastiche of Love “… a story about love. A love that will live forever. The end.” Love cannot be represented except with pastiche (all-in-one) and repetition. • Pastiche: paintings, musical, melodrama, burlesque, dances, animation, songs • Repetition and punning: “funny feeling inside”; “The greatest thing you’ll ever learn Is just to love and be loved in return,” death of the outcast and loyal woman.
Structuralist Analysis (1): Binaries 1. Bohemia underworld (Toulous) vs. Bourgeois world (The duke). 2. Idealistic/Love (Christine) vs. Practical/Money (Zilder) (Satine) in between 3. The romantic or melodramatic vs. burlesque 4. The black and white vs. the colorful vs. the surreal (artificial) colors
Structuralist Analysis (2): Plot Motifs: **misidentification recognition, attraction commitment trial (Duke): the supper, the ending jealousy and misunderstanding love Repetitions of “Children of the Revolution” and “Nature Boy” **Bohemian spirit wins over materialism? **No. The use of Toulouse is only superficial—for plot development and setting. --one that confirms love, and has his paintings set the tone of Moulin Rouge (see images of —posters in Zidler’s office)
Toulouse— 1. introduce the nature boy, 2. undercuts the love scene, 3. confirms Satine’s love, 4. reveal the duke’s plot.
Biography of Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec • His stunted physique earned him laughs and scorn, and kept him from experiencing many of the physical pleasures offered in Montmartre, a sorrow that he drowned in alcohol. At first it was beer and wine. Then brandy, whiskey, and the infamous absinthe (苦艾酒, the green fairy) found their ways into his life. • Art and alcohol were his only mistresses, and they were mistresses to which he devoted all of his time and energy. He was doing one or both almost every day of his life until he died. (source)
Moulin Rouge A Structuralist Analysis (3) • 3 Quests and 2 Missions: • The Bohemian artists want their play "Spectacular Spectacular" accepted. They sends Christian to persuade Satine. • Christian (subject) searches his ideal love, who turns out to be Satine (object) in the underworld of Paris. • Zidler (sender) sends Satine to persuade the Duke to support their show, promising that she will be a real actress.
Moulin Rouge A Structuralist Analysis (3) B. Quests and 2 Mission – Frustrated or in Conflict • The play becomes an arena for battle between the Duke and Christian—each wanting their script written. • The intersection of the two stories: e.g chap 22 C: “because she doesn’t love ‘you’”; Duke: “accept this as a gift to the courtesan from the maharajah”; (she is mine) • Ideal love faces the trial of money • Dream of becoming a real actress vs. the Duke’s desire for possessing her. –neither realized; why?
Moulin Rouge A Structuralist Analysis (3) 3. Helper and Opponent Nini: Opponent • “This ending’s silly. Why would the courtesan go for the penniless writer? Whoops! I mean sitar player.” • “Don’t worry Shakespeare, you’ll get your ending, once the Duke gets his end in.” Chocolate: Helper -- saves Satine twice; • when Satine falls down from a Trapeze; • when the duke (opponent) wants to rape her.
Moulin Rouge Who is the real opponent? 3. Zidler? • Helps Satine -- chap 19 • Wavering, • calling her “little pumpkin,” “little sparrow,” • Why does he have to tell Satine that she is to die? To save Christian? • He insists that the show must go on. “Another hero, another mindless crime Behind the curtain in the pantomime. On and on, Does anybody know what we are living for?” (chap 27)
Moulin Rouge Who is the real opponent? 4. The illness – revealed at the beginning, confirmed when S is faced with the first choice, terminating her life at the end. “Never fall in love with a woman who sells herself. It always ends bad.” (tango dance chap 23 –a contrast to the use of tango in Rent.) 5. Pastiche style: Meant to foreground the love, but also undermines it – • e.g. after loud and frivolous burlesque in the elephant room chap 13 – “One day I’ll fly away.” • e.g. after Chap 21 “Come what may”
MR – Postmodern Pastiche of Love Songs Self-Reflexive Signs Signs of the Exotic
The Songs & Musical Scenes All the Songs • Chap 8 –innuendo; • woman as muse to “inspire” artistic creation and sexual act; • “funny feeling” –of sex, of love, of suspicion and jealousy • (later) Nini: Christian can have his ‘ending’ if the Duke has his ‘end’ in. • Your Song--Christian to Satine; • Your Song--Satine to the Duke
A. Songs: Love Medley chap 14 • Love Is Like Oxygen; • * Love Is A Many Splendored Thing; • Up Where We Belong • * All You Need Is Love - • Lover's Game • I Was Made for Lovin' You • Just One Night - • * Pride (In The Name Of Love) • Don't Leave Me this Way - • * Silly Love Songs • (Repeated) Up Where We Belong - • Heroes- • * I Will Always Love You - • * Your Song What do you think?
B. Songs a. American songs V.S. English songs ref. (the point of a group of students) **songs performed by American singers represent materialism **songs performed by English singers represent the theme of love
B. Myths within the songs (2) 2. the example of “Hindi” **lyrics “She is mine”: male dominance Satine’s part: yielding to the domination **Hindi melody exotic, dangerous, tension, sexual, male dominance
C. language (songs) & meanings: arbitrary relationship . a. “Emptied out” and filled with a new concept ** “In the Name of Love,” Nirvana, “Roxanne” b. Meaning changes according to different contexts ** “It’s a little bit funny, this feeling inside” c. Songs with different meanings are combined to present a new theme ** “Elephant Love Medley”
Self-Reflexive Signs: stylistic pastiche • Genre: musical + cartoon styles (green fairy like Tinkerbelle) –the gold flakes—represents dream, magic and money • camera styles – e.g. changes from the romantic to the comic/burlesque • music video (fast-changing scenes) • theatrical shows—whirling • Burlesque—quick cuts matching quick actions; fast zoom-in and zoom-out, • Melodramatic: aura around the protagonists and clouds underneath them • architectural styles – • gothic tower; • elephant house; • combination of the realistic and artificial (including the colors and the words – Lamour, love, besides Christian’s attic.)
Typewriter; A red velvet curtain framed by a gilt proscenium arch. Self-Reflexive Signs of the Theatric and Writing
Signs of the Theatric: Another Stage CHRISTIAN: Love lifts us up where we belong. . . SATINE: Get down, get down! CHRISTIAN: Where eagles fly on a mountain high.
The Bohemian and the Argentinan The Indian (Bollywood) and the blacks Signs of the Exotic
Moulin Rouge & Pastiche Today • Courtesan –The Story of a Geisha; the issue of prostitution • Moulin Rouge -- Dinner, Show and Souvenir (Toulouse-Lautrec Menu) • Hollywood film’s pastiche • 正宗約會電影. Date Movie • Shrek … • Is pastiche the language of love?
Next Time • Chap 12; • “Morning“ & • Notes on a Scandal