Director Baz Luhrmann talks about the Oscars, the film's upcoming DVD release, and more
Baz Luhrmann, Ewan McGregor, ...
Credit: Kidman, McGregor and Luhrmann: Kevin Winter/ImageDirect

”Moulin Rouge” can-canned its way back into theaters Nov. 21 with hopes that it will generate some Oscar buzz for stars Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor, as well as director Baz Luhrmann. Well, 20th Century Fox’s plan seems to be working: Last week, the movie was named Best Film of the Year by the National Board of Review (the Oscar season’s equivalent of the New Hampshire primary). caught up with Luhrmann to find out what he thinks of the Oscars, what goodies await fans on his soon-to-be-released ”Moulin Rouge” DVD set (in stores Jan. 18), and why — contrary to rumors — he’s not James Bond-bound.

Was it always part of your plan to rerelease ”Moulin Rouge”?
When we were going out with the film this summer, we knew what a tremendous risk it was to release this kind of movie at that particular time. Having said that, the movie did well enough to pay the bills, so we had no intention of going out with it again. But when it turned out to be a hit in Europe and was at the top of the charts in London for six weeks, the studio started saying we should rerelease it. I think audiences have been able to generate word of mouth for long enough for that to have gone around and fed back into itself.

Although ”Moulin Rouge” eventually broke even, it wasn’t as successful in the U.S. as was expected. What happened?
I think when it was first released in the states, there was a lot of fear about the M-word — that word being ”musical.” And in the end, the marketing campaign couldn’t convey the cinematic language we’d been dealing in. The guys at Fox have been fantastic, but how do you market a postmodern comic-tragic musical, for goodness’ sake? So all of the trailers for the movie ended up emphasizing just the tragic aspect instead of the comic aspect or the musical aspect. And in the end, what makes this movie a different experience is it’s a musical.

What do you think the movie’s Oscar chances are?
I have a very simple view about all awards and it is that, in the end, art is not a horse race, you know? ”Crouching Tiger” is not a better or worse film than ”Gladiator.” But what is good about awards is the celebration or acknowledgement of work that has either pushed the envelope or is simply very good in one way or another. And I can think of a lot of people in my company — as well as two actors — who have taken extraordinary risks and pulled them off. [Nicole and Ewan] play broad comedy, then high tragedy, then break out into song and dance and die. And I would love for them to be acknowledged by their peers.