My current Top 5

My current Top 5


Best Actress 2001: Nicole Kidman in "Moulin Rouge!"

The greatest thing you’ll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return.

That’s the message we learn right at the beginning of the movie-musical extravaganza Moulin Rouge!. But considering we are watching a colorful, loud and over-the-top romantic musical, it all starts surprisingly different: gray and quiet. We see Christian, alone, telling us that the woman he loved is dead. We know right from the beginning that Nicole Kidman’s Satine is doomed.

Soon, Christian begins to tell the story about the love between him and Satine. We learn how he came to Paris as a young, hopelessly idealistic man to live a life of freedom, beauty, truth and love. We keep hearing about Satine and Christian and his friends plan to read a play that they wrote for Harold Zidler, the owner of the Moulin Rouge, to Satine.

So, they enter the world of the Moulin Rouge which could not be more wild, loud, colorful and over-the-top. It’s a bombastic kaleidoscope of music and colors with fast-moving cinematography and quick editing.

But suddenly, everything goes quiet and silent…In the role of Satine, Nicole Kidman has one of the greatest entrances in the history of motion pictures. Slowly, she comes down from the ceiling, sitting on a swing, singing “Diamonds are a girl’s best friend”.

But even the first close-up of Satine is already intermingled with a pale vision of her death. Death is always with her.

In Moulin Rouge!, Nicole Kidman gives a real movie-star performance on the highest level. From the first moment, she completely dominates the screen and perfectly lives up to all the talk about her – it’s not hard to imagine that she is the star of the Moulin Rouge. She sings and dances wildly and crazily but always with dignity and precision.

The most remarkable feat about Nicole Kidman (and the wonderful Ewan McGregor) is that they were both able to survive all the craziness around them. The movies goes extremely fast, it’s highly stylized and impresses with its Art Direction and Costume Design, but Ewan and Nicole were able to prevent their characters from ever stepping into the background. Instead, the love story between the two is the heart and soul of the movie and the wonderful chemistry between the two actors helps to make this successful. His idealistic and optimistic wide-eyed writer fits perfectly to her initial cold and distant prostitute.

Nicole Kidman plays the part with a lot of confidence. Her voice may be a little thin but that doesn’t prevent her from singing them in the most wonderful, passionate way. She flawlessly shows everything that Satine is supposed to be from her fervent outbursts to her moments of desperation.

Through the character’s of Christian and Satine we learn that love can overcome all obstacles, that it can survive even the most hateful attempts to destroy it and that it is better to have loved and lost that love than to have never loved at all. Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor make this almost old-fashioned movie love concept work without ever making it seem unbelievable. They go along with the movie and its message and play their parts with as much dedication and seriousness as possible.

At the beginning, Nicole Kidman plays Satine with a lot of superficiality but during the course of the movie, she opens her up more and more. When she says that she wants to become “a real actress” she shows how big these dreams are by demonstrating a certain sadness on her face that comes from still having to be in the Moulin Rouge. Nicole Kidman shows how Satine may early develop feelings for Christian but that her dreams about being an actress are still more important to her until she finally realizes that these dreams don’t matter anymore as long as she can be with Christian. Nicole makes this character arc very believable and gives a lot more depth and complexity to Satine than other actresses might have.

We know right from the start that Satine will die but Nicole Kidman fills the part with so much energy and life that it’s somehow impossible to believe – even when she is coughing blood. She makes Satine such a fascinating woman that her ultimate death is just as shocking and moving as if we had never heard about it before.

Overall, Satine is probably a rather easy character in herself but to make this character realistic and believable is incredibly hard and Nicole Kidman did an admirable job in doing so. Her performance has to be in tune with the over-the-top happenings around her but at the same time she must create a real human being. She has to be crazy, funny, touching, romantic, hopeful and hopeless.

Satine is a character for the ages and will probably be the role that Nicole Kidman will always be remembered for. For this, she gets


joe burns said...

Completely agree!

Anonymous said...

A brilliant performance, she should have won!