Back in 2001, in the innocent days before 9-11, 20th Century Fox released the film Moulin Rouge! My daughter and I, always captivated by musicals, went to sit in the dark theatre, waiting for the movie to start. We weren’t prepared for the pastiche-jukebox musical come MTV video come sensory overload that was the Moulin Rouge! When the final credits rolled to a close, my daughter and I sat in the theatre with our mouths open, not wanting to believe that the movie was over. The next day found us back at the theatre to see it again. And again. And again. On our fifth and final theatre viewing, the theatre manager came into speak to the audience and introduce one audience member who was there to see it for the 18th time. We weren’t the only ones to be enamoured with Moulin Rouge!. I bought the film on DVD and we continued to watch it. I can’t say how many times I’ve seen Moulin Rouge! but every time I see it, it still captures me. That was four years before I met my husband, and Ewan McGregor’s smile and twinkling eyes had me drooling (actually, it still does but let’s just not say anything about that 😉 ).
Nine years later, Nick and my daughter and I were in Paris. Nick wanted to have an evening to himself, so Miyuki (my daughter) and I made our way to the Moulin Rouge. Now, granted it was over 100 years after the movie’s story took place, we were still hoping to capture some of the amazing feeling with which the movie left us.
When we came up from the Metro, we saw the line to buy tickets under the windmill was more than two blocks long. Instead, we wandered up and down the streets in the madness that still surrounds the Moulin Rouge. The energy was crazy. People were dancing, and running up and down the streets. Pockets of singing and shouting were breaking out all around us. French, English, Italian, German and other languages that I couldn’t place. We made our way down past the end of the line, around a corner and to our surprise, found an Irish pub. With part of our family coming from Donegal, it seemed appropriate, if a bit strange, to enter that Irish pub in the middle of Paris.
Miyuki and I sat and chatted and I treated her to her first Guinness while I sipped at my Coke Light. It was a wonderful evening – one of those common experiences that a mother and daughter sometimes share when all history and power barriers have dropped and only a mutual enjoyment of our time together was important.
Perhaps Moulin Rouge! was only fast moving images on celluloid, songs by other songwriters and a story that was simply fabrication. But this film created a mutual experience that my daughter and I took with us to the streets of Paris, to create a memory that we both will always hold dear.