On this day in pop culture history: ‘Moulin Rogue!’ opened in U.S. theaters
It was 15 years ago today that Moulin Rouge! opened in theaters across the U.S. The opening followed a world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival and New York and Los Angeles premieres the month prior.
Ewan McGregor and Nicole Kidman made us all swoon with their charm and their palpable chemistry in the heartfelt, old-fashioned, tragic love story of Christian and Satine (very old-fashioned, in a sense — director Baz Luhrmann has said he drew from the Greek legend of Orpheus and Eurydice in writing the film).
The spectacular spectacular of Moulin Rogue! didn’t win over everybody — Luhrmann’s glitzy, dazzling style has been quite divisive over the years. But the film caught the attention of Oscars voters — it was nominated for eight Academy Awards, including wins for Best Art Direction and Best Costume Design. Beyond the technical categories, the film earned Kidman her first Oscar nomination, and with a Best Picture nomination, it was the first musical in a decade (since 1991’s Beauty and the Beast) to get a nod in the top category.
With all but one of Moulin Rouge!’s catchy musical numbers being updates on pre-existing popular songs, the film didn’t pick up any Oscars for its music. The one original song, “Come What May,” was originally penned for Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet, and, though it went unused in the Shakespeare adaptation, that made it ineligible for an Oscar.
It’s been 15 years since the film’s debut, but it’s clear the musical has left an impression on plenty of fans — and on its stars. A few months ago, McGregor channeled Moulin Rogue! when he selected David Bowie’s “Heroes” to sing at a tribute to the late rock superstar. McGregor had sung part of “Heroes” in Moulin Rogue!’s “Elephant Love Medley.”
“The greatest thing you’ll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return.”
Other notable June 1 happenings in pop culture history:
• 1954: Linus’ security blanket made its debut in this day’s Peanuts comic strip
• 1966: The final episode of The Dick Van Dyke Show aired, after airing for five seasons that earned 15 Emmy Awards.
• 1967: David Bowie’s self-titled debut studio album was released. Also on this day, The Beatles’ eighth studio album, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, was released.
• 1968: Simon & Garfunkel’s “Mrs. Robinson” hit the top of the U.S. singles chart. It held the No. 1 spot for three weeks.
• 1973: Pink Floyd began recording The Dark Side of the Moon starting with the track “Us and Them.” During the album’s recording, the band would sometimes watch Monty Python’s Flying Circus during breaks.
• 1980: CNN, the world’s first 24-hour television news network, launched.
• 1984: The last episode of game show Tattletales aired.
• 1984: Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, directed by Leonard Nimoy, opened in theaters. It was the first Star Trek film helmed by a Trek actor. William Shatner would later direct Star Trek V: The Final Frontier.
• 1985: Akira Kurosawa’s Ran opened in theaters across Japan, following its world premiere the day before at the first Tokyo International Film Festival. The film was nominated for four Oscars, including Best Director, making Kurosawa the second-ever Asian filmmaker nominated for the award. At that 58th Academy Awards ceremony, Kurosawa presented the award for Best Picture (which went to Out of Africa) along with Billy Wilder and John Huston.
• 1993: 10,000 Maniacs’ MTV Unplugged concert aired, featuring David Byrne as a guest artist for three songs. The live album of the concert, which would reach No. 13 on the Billboard chart, was released the following October and was the final album of the band’s with Natalie Merchant before she left the group to pursue her solo career.
• 1993: The ride Space Mountain: From The Earth to the Moon opened to the public in Disneyland Paris, following a grand opening celebration on May 31. It is the fastest of the five versions of the ride. Its original theme nodded to Jules Vernes’ classic novel From the Earth to the Moon, but in 2005, its theme was changed to “Mission 2.”
• 2009: Conan O’Brien began his run as host of NBC’s The Tonight Show. He stepped down in January 2010 after a dispute with the network.
Birthdays: The Shawshank Redemption actor Morgan Freeman (turns 79 today), The Little Mermaid actor René Auberjonois (76), The Bourne Identity actor Brian Cox (70), Captain America: Civil War actor Tom Holland (20), model and television host Heidi Klum (43), singer-songwriter Alanis Morissette (42), Pirates of the Caribbean actor Jonathan Pryce, comedian-actress-writer Amy Schumer (35), The Hunger Games actress Willow Shields (16), The Walking Dead actress Sarah Wayne Callies (39), Rolling Stones guitarist Ronnie Wood (69)