Song of the Day #4,436: ‘Elephant Medley’ – Ewan McGregor & Nicole Kidman

Continuing my personal ranking of the 25 movie musicals deemed essential by the American Film Institute…

#17. Moulin Rouge! – 2001
(#25 on the AFI list)

If I were ranking top scenes from these 25 musicals, two standouts from Baz Luhrmann’s 2001 Moulin Rouge may well top that list. One is Ewan McGregor’s earnest performance of Elton John’s ‘Your Song’ and the other is today’s SOTD, the so-called ‘Elephant Medley.’

This extravagant mash-up of a dozen love songs is both a brilliant piece of music and transporting cinema. McGregor leaping on the elephant’s head to belt out “love lifts us up where we belong” and the explosion of heart-shaped stars surrounding the lovers as they break into the chorus of ‘I Will Always Love You’ — these are breathtaking moments.

It would be impossible for Moulin Rouge to sustain this level of cinematic ecstasy for its entire running time, and it doesn’t come very close. Luhrmann’s over-the-top style made my head hurt more than my heart flutter during my rewatch — probably the first time I’d seen the film in full since shortly after its release.

Still, when I’m on its wavelength — for a little more than half of its running time, I’d say — this is a truly special achievement.

Moulin Rouge was nominated for eight Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Actress, and took home trophies for Costumes and Art Design. It was the first musical nominated for Best Picture in a decade (the previous nominee was Beauty and the Beast).

[Christian]
Love is a many splendored thing
Love lifts us up where we belong
All you need is love!

[Satine]
Please, don’t start that again

[Christian]
All you need is love

[Satine]
A girl has got to eat

[Christian]
All you need is love

[Satine]
Or she’ll end up on the streets

[Christian]
All you need is love

[Satine]
Love is just a game

[Christian]
I was made for loving you baby, you were made for loving me

[Satine]
The only way of loving me baby, is to pay a lovely fee

[Christian]
Just one night, give me just one night

[Satine]
There’s no way, ’cause you can’t pay

[Christian]
In the name of love, one night in the name of love

[Satine]
You crazy fool, I won’t give in to you

[Christian]
Don’t leave me this way
I can’t survive without your sweet love, oh baby
Don’t leave me this way

[Satine]
You’d think that people would have had enough of silly love songs

[Christian]
I look around me and I see, it isn’t so, oh no

[Satine]
Some people want to fill the world with silly love songs

[Christian]
Well what’s wrong with that? I’d like to know
‘Cause here I go again!
Love lifts us up where we belong
Where eagles fly, on a mountain high

[Satine]
Love makes us act like we are fools
Throw our lives away, for one happy day

[Christian]
We could be heroes! Just for one day

[Satine]
You, you will be mean

[Christian]
No I won’t!

[Satine]
And I, I’ll drink all the time

[Christian]
We should be lovers

[Satine]
We can’t do that

[Christian]
We should be lovers, and that’s a fact

[Satine]
Though nothing, will keep us together

[Christian]
We could steal time…

[Both]
Just for one day
We could be heroes, forever and ever
We could be heroes, forever and ever
We could be heroes…

[Christian]
Just because I will always love you
[Satine]
I

[Both]
Can’t help loving you

[Satine]
How wonderful life is

[Both]
Now you’re in the world

3 thoughts on “Song of the Day #4,436: ‘Elephant Medley’ – Ewan McGregor & Nicole Kidman

  1. Dana Gallup says:

    I haven’t seen this movie in years, but recall having similar feelings to yours. There were a number of standout moments, but they didn’t carry through the entire film.

  2. Peg says:

    I never did get into this movie. Need to give it another try

  3. Amy says:

    I recall debating when this film was released, as it blew my mind in only positive ways. After Baz created a Romeo & Juliet that engaged a modern audience, he set out clear the cobwebs off the musical and use color, music, camera cuts, choreography and every other tool in his cinematic tool box to give the jaded modern viewer a similar feeling to the one experienced by those in attendance at the actual Moulin Rouge. I, for one, found it brilliant. And, yes, the sequences you describe above are highlights, but I would add a few more to that list. Love, love, love this film.💗

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