Moulin Rouge, directed by Baz Luhrmann, tells the story of two men, Christian and the Duke, and their fght for Satine, a talented actress at the Moulin Rouge. Christian, who represents romanticism, believes that love is everything and even goes so far as comparing it to oxygen. The duke, on the other hand, looks at love as a possession, or a way to provide security. The film is essentially portraying the conflicts between realism, the Duke, and romanticism, Christian, with only one of them triumphing in the end. Through the last minutes of Satine’s life, we discover with who her loyalty lies, Christian.
Satine’s decision and ultimately her death, reinforce the triumph of romanticism and the failure of realism, promoting the validity of romantic ideals. Christian, a romantic writer for the Moulin Rouge, believes that love is above all other things, representing the main ideals of Romanticism. The period of Romanticism emphasizes intuition, emotion, and imagination, which are all more important than reason. Through his writing of plays and love for Satine, Christian portrays these characteristics, especially emotion. He says, “The greatest thing you’ll ever learn is Just to love and be loved in return” (Luhrmann).
This shows that Christian places a huge emphasis on love, with Satine being the most important person in his life. This deep emotion that Christian feels represents the deep emotion that was felt throughout the Romantic Movement, making him a key representation in the film. Christian’s views of love differ greatly from those of the Duke though. The Duke, the sponsor of the Moulin Rouge, believes that love is based on security and ownership, opposing Christian’s views, and representing the ideas of realism. The Duke focuses on providing money and a career for Satine, so that she will be free rom the harsh life she is currently living in.
The Duke says, “Why should the courtesan chose the penniless sitar player over the maharajah who is offering her a lifetime of security? That’s real love. Once the sitar player has satisfied his lust he will leave her with nothing. I suggest that the courtesan chose the maharajah” (Luhrmann). This essentially represents the Duke as the maharajah, the one who will provide a secure life for Satine, and represents Christian as the penniless sitar player, who will eventually leave Satine with nothing. The Duke elieves that what he is doing will provide Satine with a better life, even though he is aware that he is not the one she truly loves.
His idea is solely based on the reality of things, proving that he portrays realism. Satine is faced by the constant battle between choosing Christian, who she truly loves, and the Duke, who will provide a career for her. Harold, owner of the Moulin Rouge, pressures Satine to be with the Duke, who will sponsor the Moulin Rouge and provide for them; while her heart pressures her to be with Christian. In the beginning, Satine claims that all a girl needs is to work and eat. Christian says, “Can’t… fall… in love? But, a life without love, that’s… terrible… ” (Luhrmann).
Satine then replies, “No, being on the street, that’s terrible” (Luhrmann). She thinks realistically, with her main focus being to make ends meet. With the Duke, she will nave more than enough to keep ner otttne streets and live a satistactory lite. As the film progresses, Satine comes to the realization that true love means more than being provided for. She says, “l don’t need you anymore! All my life you made me believe I was only worth what someone would pay for me! But Christian loves me. He loves me! He loves me, Harold. And that is worth everything! We’re going away from you, away from the Duke, away from the Moulin Rouge! (Luhrmann). Christian and Satine’s love is so strong that Satine treasures it over everything the Duke could give her, influencing the result of the constant battle she faces. In the end, romanticism triumphs over realism, with Satine choosing Christian over the Duke. In the last scene of the film, Christian interrupts the show at the Moulin Rouge and comes in as the penniless sitar player. While still on stage, Satine realizes that the one she is estined to be with is Christian and chooses him, although in the script of the show she was to choose the maharajah.
Although Satine dies in the end, romanticism still prevails. Satine says in her last minutes of life, “Tell our story Christian, that way I’ll-I’ll always be with you” (Luhrmann). This proves that although Satine dies, and Christian is left to live alone, their story will continue on forever, so they will never be apart. The Duke is left with nothing, though, proving his failure, and the failure of realism. The woman he wanted to so much to be with went against his wishes and he is left lone in misery. In the end, romanticism triumphs over realism, and Christian receives Satine’s love, not the Duke.
The failure of realism shows that Moulin Rouge promotes the romantic ideals and denies the validity of realism. Through Satine’s relationships with Christian and the Duke, she decides that true love means more to her than endless possessions, which the Duke could have provided. This idea supports romanticism, and the emphasis on emotion and intuition, rather than reason. Over all, with Satine’s choice of Christian over the Duke, the film reinforces the triumph of romanticism, and the downfall of realism.