Analyzing Audio-Visual

Moulin Rouge!

"Elephant Love Medley" - Sample Essay: “All You Need Is Love”

"Elephant Love Medley"

moulin dialogue.png
moulin rouge kidman and mcewan.png

Sample Essay

All You Need is Love

In the “The Elephant Love Song Medley” the poor, idealistic writer Christian and the business-like courtesan Satine are drawn together into an almost magical world. The unity of this romantic world is created by the lyrics, which are increasingly integrated, and by the setting, which suggests intimacy and freedom.      

Luhrmann uses increasingly integrated lyrics to unite the pair, who literally and metaphorically start off on different notes yet end up on the same note. Initially, Satine speaks prose words at odds with the poetic words Christian sings: Christian uses a famous line from the Beatles, “All you need is love,” to which Satine responds -- without rhyme -- “A girl has got to eat.” Satine then drops the prose and starts to sing in poetry, yet she continues to contradict him: Christian sings a line from Kiss, “You were made for loving me,” to which Satine responds, “The only way of loving me, baby, is to pay a lovely fee.” Note that although she contradicts Christian, she's entering into the way he's communicating. We can see that Satine is coming around to Christian's point of view when she contradicts him using lyrics from the same song he sings. Finally, she looks out into the night sky of Paris and initiates a new song: “Some people want to fill the world / With silly love songs.” Christine responds, “Well, what's wrong with that? / I'd like to know.” She thus starts a song which she knows to have an argument which starts off against love songs, yet which ends up in favour of them. 

As they near the end of the medley, their interchange becomes more and more integrated.They sing in increasing unison the lyrics from David Bowie's “Heroes.” The lyrics are about living love “just for one day,” which is appropriate to the story, since Satine has a terminal illness and they won't have long to spend together. At the end of the medley they're singing the same words in harmony, Satine's higher voice floating above Christian's lower voice -- highlighting the female-male opposites as well as the attraction of these opposites. They then sing Whitney Houston's line, “I can't help loving you” in three parts: Satine sings “I,” they both sing “can't stop loving,” and Christian sings “you.” The final lyrics they sing are from Elton's John's “Your Song,” which Christian sang earlier in the film to Satine the first time he expressed his love for her. At that time, she was moved, yet she didn't enter into a medley duet -- also, she was under the illusion she was conversing with a rich Duke. This time, she knows who Christian is, and she initiates the same Elton John song: she sings “How wonderful life is,” and he then completes the line by singing, “when you're in the world.”

The setting of the scene also unites the pair by creating a romantic atmosphere, which encourages intimacy and freedom. The lights of Paris (often referred to as 'the city of love') sparkle in the distance and the night-time setting suggests the couple’s intimate seclusion -- away from society's notions about either high-class prostitutes or bohemian writers. Christian moves freely on top of the elephant that holds Satine’s bedroom, suggesting to Satine that they're free to do what they want. He demonstrates to her that no one can stop them when, after she yells for him to get down, he remains on the dome of the elephant’s head. Her life as a courtesan is beneath them, and for now they're close to the heavens and stars, breathing in the fresh air of the vast Paris sky surrounding them. The words, the music, the romance of Paris at night -- combined with other aspects of the setting -- such as the heart-shaped doorway that implodes into glittering fragments -- all suggest that Christian's romanticism will outweigh Satine's practicality in the end. 

moulin rouge poster in paris RYC .png