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20th Century Fox

15 Things You Might Not Know About Moulin Rouge!

20th Century Fox
20th Century Fox

Writer-director Baz Luhrmann’s distinct, grandiose style of filmmaking was never more loved by critics than with 2001’s Moulin Rouge!, the first musical to be nominated for the Best Picture Oscar in 10 years (paving the way for Chicago’s Best Picture win the following year). But making musicals popular again in Hollywood was a long and painful process. Here are 15 things you might not know about the bawdy hit.

1. BAZ LUHRMANN’S FATHER DIED ON THE FIRST DAY OF FILMING.

Before he passed away, Baz Luhrmann's dying father—a former gas station and movie theater owner—told his son to focus on the film. When Luhrmann thought about giving up during its hectic production, he remembered his father’s words.

2. NICOLE KIDMAN BROKE A RIB DURING FILMING. TWICE!

After fracturing her rib the first time, Nicole Kidman broke it again trying to fit into a corset. She fell down a flight of stairs dancing in heels at three in the morning, and had to film the part where Satine says “A real actress” in a wheelchair. The injuries reportedly cost her the lead in David Fincher's Panic Room.

3. JOHN LEGUIZAMO NEEDED PHYSICAL THERAPY AFTER SHOOTING.

To play the diminutive Toulouse-Lautrec, John Leguizamo was required to walk on his knees in special leg braces with his feet and lower legs removed through special effects. He also wore amputee prostheses, which caused his legs to go numb. In 2005, four years after the film's release, Leguizamo told TV Guide that while his knees had recovered, "It's my lower back that’s still compressed." Fortunately, the filmmakers "got me a great physical therapist who saved my spine."

4. STAR WARS FORCED MOULIN ROUGE! OUT OF AUSTRALIA.

Shooting at Fox's Sydney studio was not just geographically convenient for Australians Luhrmann and Kidman, but also for Ewan McGregor, who followed up Moulin Rouge! with Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones, which was scheduled to shoot in the same studios. But when Luhrmann and the cast and crew ran out of time, George Lucas’ producer made it clear that the film's studio time was up, leading Luhrmann to finishing filming some pick-up shots in Madrid.

5. LEONARDO DICAPRIO WANTED TO PLAY CHRISTIAN, BUT HE COULDN’T SING.

Baz Luhrmann and Leonardo DiCaprio had a forged a strong relationship on the set of 1996's Romeo + Juliet, and the actor wanted in on Moulin Rouge! So he auditioned, despite the fact that,  according to DiCaprio, "I have a pretty atrocious voice  ... But we had a friendly thing where it was me and him and a piano player, and we tried to sing a song together. It didn’t go too well. I think it was ‘Lean on Me,’ and when I hit the high note, he just turned to me ... ‘Yes, D, I don’t know if this conversation should continue.'"

6. HEATH LEDGER AND JAKE GYLLENHAAL WERE BOTH CONSIDERED FOR CHRISTIAN.

Luhrmann passed on Jake Gyllenhaal, even though he was able to sing complicated Sondheim works. Heath Ledger was also a capable singer, but was deemed too young to play the role opposite Kidman.

7. COURTNEY LOVE AUDITIONED TO PLAY SATINE.

Though she didn’t get the part, Luhrmann needed her approval to obtain the rights to use Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” in the movie, a song rarely licensed to TV or film. She agreed, for $125,000.

8. MARILYN MANSON WAS TAKEN OUT OF THE MOVIE.

Luhrmann hired Marilyn Manson to sing “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” which made Love very angry as she and Manson had a longstanding feud. She evoked the performer approval clause in her contract, forcing production to find an unknown band to re-record the song six days before the movie’s opening.

9. MOST OF OZZY OSBOURNE’S PART WAS TAKEN OUT, TOO (BUT HE IS IN THE FILM.)

In an early draft, Ozzy Osbourne was meant to play the Green Fairy, armed with a giant sitar. Eventually, a gentler version—with Kylie Minogue’s voice—took over that role, but when her eyes turn red and she screams, that's Ozzy Osbourne.

10. ONLY THE ROLLING STONES AND CAT STEVENS SAID "NO."

It took two years to clear all of the music for the movie. Amazingly, while Luhrmann managed to get yesses from the likes of Paul McCartney, Madonna, and Elton John, only two artists wouldn't agree to let their music be used: one was The Rolling Stones, the other was Cat Stevens, who would not allow his “Father and Son” to be used in the film because its sexual subject matter goes against his Muslim beliefs. Christian was supposed to sing the tune while he argued with his father about going to Paris to follow his dreams (it was changed to “Nature Boy”). Some songs that were taken out of the script after rewrites were Fifth Dimension's "Up, Up and Away" and 10cc's "I'm Not in Love.”

11. “COME WHAT MAY” WAS ORIGINALLY PENNED FOR ROMEO + JULIET.

Though David Baerwald's "Come What May" was the only original song to appear in Moulin Rouge!, because it had originally been written for Romeo + Juliet, it was ineligible for Oscar consideration.

12. NICOLE KIDMAN'S NECKLACE WAS THE MOST EXPENSIVE PIECE OF JEWELRY EVER MADE FOR A MOVIE.

YouTube

Jeweler Stefano Canturi made the necklace, which was valued at $3 million. The necklace, which features 1308 diamonds and a 2.5-carat sapphire clasp, had a “stunt double” for a scene in which The Duke yanks the necklace off of Satine’s neck.

13. SOME HISTORICAL INACCURACIES WERE MADE TO KEEP THE PG-13 RATING.

The actual dancers of the real Moulin Rouge revealed their privates underneath their can-can skirts. Erotic illustrations inspired by the Kama Sutra were only able to be viewed in the background in order to avoid an R rating.

14. IT WAS BASED ON THE MYTH OF ORPHEUS.

Luhrmann and his writing partner Craig Pearce began brainstorming Moulin Rouge! with the Greek myth of Orpheus in mind. In the story, Orpheus failed to bring his beloved Eurydice back from the dead after disobeying the Gods by turning back to make sure Eurydice was still with him during their escape from the Underworld. In Moulin Rouge!, Christian is Orpheus, trying to save the dying Satine by getting her to escape the Duke and the Moulin Rouge.

15. OSCAR WILDE WAS INITIALLY GOING TO MAKE A CAMEO.

Before realizing that they had to narrow their scope to just the Moulin Rouge, Luhrmann and Pearce wrote scenes exploring more of Paris's Montmartre neighborhood. Excised from the final draft was a scene in which Christian, Satine, and Toulouse-Lautrec go to the estate of the German aristocrat Count von Groovy and participate in an absinthe- and opium-fueled orgy with Isadora Duncan, Sarah Bernhardt, and Oscar Wilde. Count von Groovy is a nickname that Luhrmann acquired while directing La Bohème at the Sydney Opera House in 1990.

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Echo Bridge Home Entertainment
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15 Must-See Holiday Horror Movies
Echo Bridge Home Entertainment
Echo Bridge Home Entertainment

Families often use the holidays as an excuse to indulge in repeat viewings of Planes, Trains and Automobiles and Elf. But for a certain section of the population, the yuletide is all about horror. Although it didn’t truly emerge until the mid-1970s, “holiday horror” is a thriving subgenre that often combines comedy to tell stories of demented Saint Nicks and lethal gingerbread men. If you’ve never seen Santa slash someone, here are 15 movies to get you started.

1. THANKSKILLING (2009)

Most holiday horror movies concern Christmas, so ThanksKilling is a bit of an anomaly. Another reason it’s an anomaly? It opens in 1621, with an axe-wielding turkey murdering a topless pilgrim woman. The movie continues on to the present-day, where a group of college friends are terrorized by that same demon bird during Thanksgiving break. It’s pretty schlocky, but if Turkey Day-themed terror is your bag, make sure to check out the sequel: ThanksKilling 3. (No one really knows what happened to ThanksKilling 2.)

2. BLACK CHRISTMAS (1974)

Fittingly, the same man who brought us A Christmas Story also brought us its twisted cousin. Before Bob Clark co-wrote and directed the 1983 saga of Ralphie Parker, he helmed Black Christmas. It concerns a group of sorority sisters who are systematically picked off by a man who keeps making threatening phone calls to their house. Oh, and it all happens during the holidays. Black Christmas is often considered the godfather of holiday horror, but it was also pretty early on the slasher scene, too. It opened the same year as The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and beat Halloween by a full four years.

3. SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT (1984)

This movie isn’t about Santa Claus himself going berserk and slaughtering a bunch of people. But it is about a troubled teen who does just that in a Santa suit. Billy Chapman starts Silent Night, Deadly Night as a happy little kid, only to witness a man dressed as St. Nick murder his parents in cold blood. Years later, after he has grown up and gotten a job at a toy store, he conducts a killing spree in his own red-and-white suit. The PTA and plenty of critics condemned the film for demonizing a kiddie icon, but it turned into a bona fide franchise with four sequels and a 2012 remake.

4. RARE EXPORTS: A CHRISTMAS TALE (2010)

This Finnish flick dismantles Santa lore in truly bizarre fashion, and it’s not easy to explain in a quick plot summary. But Rare Exports involves a small community living at the base of Korvatunturi mountain, a major excavation project, a bunch of dead reindeer, and a creepy old naked dude who may or may not be Santa Claus. Thanks to its snowy backdrop, the movie scored some comparisons to The Thing, but the hero here isn’t some Kurt Russell clone with equally feathered hair. It’s a bunch of earnest kids and their skeptical dads, who all want to survive the holidays in one piece.

5. TO ALL A GOODNIGHT (1980)

To All a Goodnight follows a by-now familiar recipe: Add a bunch of young women to one psycho dressed as Santa Claus and you get a healthy dose of murder and this 1980 slasher flick. Only this one takes place at a finishing school. So it’s fancier.

6. KRAMPUS (2015)

Although many Americans are blissfully unaware of him, Krampus has terrorized German-speaking kids for centuries. According to folklore, he’s a yuletide demon who punishes naughty children. (He’s also part-goat.) That’s some solid horror movie material, so naturally Krampus earned his own feature film. In the movie, he’s summoned because a large suburban family loses its Christmas cheer. That family has an Austrian grandma who had encounters with Krampus as a kid, so he returns to punish her descendants. He also animates one truly awful Jack-in-the-Box.

7. THE GINGERDEAD MAN (2005)

“Eat me, you punk b*tch!” That’s one of the many corny catchphrases spouted by the Gingerdead Man, an evil cookie possessed by the spirit of a convicted killer (played by Gary Busey). The lesson here, obviously, is to never bake.

8. JACK FROST (1997)

No, this isn’t the Michael Keaton snowman movie. It’s actually a holiday horror movie that beat that family film by a year. In this version, Jack Frost is a serial killer on death row who escapes prison and then, through a freak accident, becomes a snowman. He embarks on a murder spree that’s often played for laughs—for instance, the cops threaten him with hairdryers. But the comedy is pretty questionable in the infamous, and quite controversial, Shannon Elizabeth shower scene.

9. ELVES (1989)

Based on the tagline—“They’re not working for Santa anymore”—you’d assume this is your standard evil elves movie. But Elves weaves Nazis, bathtub electrocutions, and a solitary, super grotesque elf into its utterly absurd plot. Watch at your own risk.

10. SINT (2010)

The Dutch have their own take on Santa, and his name is Sinterklaas. Sinterklaas travels to the Netherlands via steamship each year with his racist sidekick Zwarte Piet. But otherwise, he’s pretty similar to Santa. And if Santa can be evil, so can Sinterklaas. According to the backstory in Sint (or Saint), the townspeople burned their malevolent bishop alive on December 5, 1492. But Sinterklaas returns from the grave on that date whenever there’s a full moon to continue dropping bodies. In keeping with his olden origins, he rides around on a white horse wielding a golden staff … that he can use to murder you.

11. SANTA’S SLAY (2005)

Ever wonder where Santa came from? This horror-comedy claims he comes from the worst possible person: Satan. The devil’s kid lost a bet many years ago and had to pretend to be a jolly gift-giver. But now the terms of the bet are up and he’s out to act like a true demon. That includes killing Fran Drescher and James Caan, obviously.

12. ALL THROUGH THE HOUSE (2015)

Another Santa slasher is on the loose in All Through the House, but the big mystery here is who it is. This villain dons a mask during his/her streak through suburbia—and, as the genre dictates, offs a bunch of promiscuous young couples along the way. The riddle is all tied up in the disappearance of a little girl, who vanished several years earlier.

13. CHRISTMAS EVIL (1980)

Several years before Silent Night, Deadly Night garnered protests for its anti-Kringle stance, Christmas Evil put a radicalized Santa at the center of its story. The movie’s protagonist, Harry Stadling, first starts to get weird thoughts in his head as a kid when he sees “Santa” (really his dad in the costume) groping his mom. Then, he becomes unhealthily obsessed with the holiday season, deludes himself into thinking he’s Santa, and goes on a rampage. The movie is mostly notable for its superfan John Waters, who lent commentary to the DVD and gave Christmas Evil some serious cult cred.

14. SANTA CLAWS (1996)

If you thought this was the holiday version of Pet Sematary, guess again. The culprit here isn’t a demon cat in a Santa hat, but a creepy next-door neighbor. Santa Claws stars B-movie icon Debbie Rochon as Raven Quinn, an actress going through a divorce right in the middle of the holidays. She needs some help caring for her two girls, so she seeks out Wayne, her neighbor who has an obsessive crush on her. He eventually snaps and dresses up as Santa Claus in a ski mask. Mayhem ensues.

15. NEW YEAR’S EVIL (1980)

Because the holidays aren’t over until everyone’s sung “Auld Lang Syne,” we can’t count out New Year’s Eve horror. In New Year’s Evil, lady rocker Blaze is hosting a live NYE show. Everything is going well, until a man calls in promising to kill at midnight. The cops write it off as a prank call, but soon, Blaze’s friends start dropping like flies. Just to tie it all together, the mysterious murderer refers to himself as … “EVIL.”

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10 Surprising Ways Senses Shape Perception
The American Museum of Natural History
The American Museum of Natural History

Every bit of information we know about the world we gathered with one of our five senses. But even with perfect pitch or 20/20 vision, our perceptions don’t always reflect an accurate picture of our surroundings. Our brain is constantly filling in gaps and taking shortcuts, which can result in some pretty wild illusions.

That’s the subject of “Our Senses: An Immersive Experience,” a new exhibition at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. Mental Floss recently took a tour of the sensory funhouse to learn more about how the brain and the senses interact.

1. LIGHTING REVEALS HIDDEN IMAGES.

Woman and child looking at pictures on a wall

Under normal lighting, the walls of the first room of “Our Senses” look like abstract art. But when the lights change color, hidden illustrations are revealed. The three lights—blue, red, and green—used in the room activate the three cone cells in our eyes, and each color highlights a different set of animal illustrations, giving the viewers the impression of switching between three separate rooms while standing still.

2. CERTAIN SOUNDS TAKE PRIORITY ...

We can “hear” many different sounds at once, but we can only listen to a couple at a time. The AMNH exhibit demonstrates this with an audio collage of competing recordings. Our ears automatically pick out noises we’re conditioned to react to, like an ambulance siren or a baby’s cry. Other sounds, like individual voices and musical instruments, require more effort to detect.

3. ... AS DO CERTAIN IMAGES.

When looking at a painting, most people’s eyes are drawn to the same spots. The first things we look for in an image are human faces. So after staring at an artwork for five seconds, you may be able to say how many people are in it and what they look like, but would likely come up short when asked to list the inanimate object in the scene.

4. PAST IMAGES AFFECT PRESENT PERCEPTION.

Our senses often are more suggestible than we would like. Check out the video above. After seeing the first sequence of animal drawings, do you see a rat or a man’s face in the last image? The answer is likely a rat. Now watch the next round—after being shown pictures of faces, you might see a man’s face instead even though the final image hasn’t changed.

5. COLOR INFLUENCES TASTE ...

Every cooking show you’ve watched is right—presentation really is important. One look at something can dictate your expectations for how it should taste. Researchers have found that we perceive red food and drinks to taste sweeter and green food and drinks to taste less sweet regardless of chemical composition. Even the color of the cup we drink from can influence our perception of taste.

6. ... AND SO DOES SOUND

Sight isn’t the only sense that plays a part in how we taste. According to one study, listening to crunching noises while snacking on chips makes them taste fresher. Remember that trick before tossing out a bag of stale junk food.

7. BEING HYPER-FOCUSED HAS DRAWBACKS.

Have you ever been so focused on something that the world around you seemed to disappear? If you can’t recall the feeling, watch the video above. The instructions say to keep track of every time a ball is passed. If you’re totally absorbed, you may not notice anything peculiar, but watch it a second time without paying attention to anything in particular and you’ll see a person in a gorilla suit walk into the middle of the screen. The phenomenon that allows us to tune out big details like this is called selective attention. If you devote all your mental energy to one task, your brain puts up blinders that block out irrelevant information without you realizing it.

8. THINGS GET WEIRD WHEN SENSES CONTRADICT EACH OTHER.

Girl standing in optical illusion room.

The most mind-bending room in the "Our Senses" exhibit is practically empty. The illusion comes from the black grid pattern painted onto the white wall in such a way that straight planes appear to curve. The shapes tell our eyes we’re walking on uneven ground while our inner ear tells us the floor is stable. It’s like getting seasick in reverse: This conflicting sensory information can make us feel dizzy and even nauseous.

9. WE SEE SHADOWS THAT AREN’T THERE.

If our brains didn’t know how to adjust for lighting, we’d see every shadow as part of the object it falls on. But we can recognize that the half of a street that’s covered in shade isn’t actually darker in color than the half that sits in the sun. It’s a pretty useful adaptation—except when it’s hijacked for optical illusions. Look at the image above: The squares marked A and B are actually the same shade of gray. Because the pillar appears to cast a shadow over square B, our brain assumes it’s really lighter in color than what we’re shown.

10. WE SEE FACES EVERYWHERE.

The human brain is really good at recognizing human faces—so good it can make us see things that aren’t there. This is apparent in the Einstein hollow head illusion. When looking at the mold of Albert Einstein’s face straight on, the features appear to pop out rather than sink in. Our brain knows we’re looking at something similar to a human face, and it knows what human faces are shaped like, so it automatically corrects the image that it’s given.

All images courtesy of the American Museum of Natural History unless otherwise noted.

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