Film & Media Studies Theory

Whitman College – FMS 387

Flying into postmodern

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From the first time they drink the green juice, Moulin Rouge turns insane by taking the contemporary and mashing it with 1900’s style.  Looking at the scene when we first we set foot in the Moulin Rouge we are thrown into a life of absurdity and postmodern.  Of course by set foot, I mean we fly in.  Flashes of color and skirts fill the screen as each shot questions the style it’s promoting.  No one working at the club is wearing “normal” clothing making each character add to the sense of postmodern style.  Each character looks disturbed through facial expression and makeup.

The shots are constantly zipping back and forth and switching vantage points and flashing from one person to the next.  All of the camera movement and changes leave the viewer with nothing specific to look at other than the absurdity of the situation.  This absurdity is postmodern because it undermines the culture that we know and understand.

The scene is completely postmodern because the shots, characters, and songs disturb the viewer.  We might be somewhat comfortable with the suits people are wearing but the use of contemporary and 1900’s culture disrupts the viewer into be confused.  The meshing of the songs “Lady Marmalade” and “Smells Like Teen Spirit” along with Zidler and his catchy little song/rap about the can-can disturbs the viewer.  Everything about the song defies what we know to be true about both the 1900’s and contemporary.  Moulin Rouge is a postmodern artifact because by taking two dissimilar things which we know and understand, the movie combines them into something which the viewer has no idea how to process.  I remember not even knowing what Zidler was saying the whole time during the song because I was so overwhelmed by the noise and the visuals on screen.

Zidler himself flies around and cartwheels around Paris with his mesmerizing hold over the audience.  This provides another sense of why the movie is a postmodern artifact. By throwing out of what we know along with humanistic and Enlightenment ideas the viewer is left with a sense of an apocalyptic world.  A world full of absurdity, lust, and sex.

And lets talk about the elephant in the room.  And by that I mean the elephant house that Satine lives in which is in every exterior shot during this scene.  The house is not just eclectic but it again disturbs the viewer and is another perfect example of why Moulin Rouge is an example of a postmodern artifact.


Example of Baudrillard:

I think this works…but in every episode of Pysch they always have the viewers looking for the pineapple in the show and then you have to submit/send a message when you see it.  This makes the viewer feel like they are a part of the show’s world when they are looking/experiencing and talking to the show.


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