With Christina Aguilera's decidedly un-burlesque turn in 'Burlesque' -- which prompted real-life burlesque queen Tempest Storm to say: "Burlesque is sensuous moves, expression, showing your personality with your eyes and your smile. There was no connection with the audience whatsoever in this movie" -- I started thinking back to her more thematically appropriate movie work. Though she wasn't in the actual film, Aguilera helped reinvigorate "Lady Marmalade" for Baz Luhrmann's frenetic production 'Moulin Rouge.'
But the real musical gem of 'Moulin Rouge' is not in the obvious musical dalliances. "Lady Marmalade, "The Sound of Music," "The Show Must Go On" or "Material Girl" are all obvious, mainstream songs that fit into the story and the grandness of the production. But at one point, the melancholy and consumption-ravaged Satine (Nicole Kidman) barely whispers out the beginnings of a song: "If I should die this very moment, I wouldn't fear. For I've never known completeness like being here. Wrapped in the warmth of you, loving every [gasping] breath of you."
To some it might seem like a song written for the film itself, since we hear only the smallest morsel, but it's actually "Gorecki," from the now-defunct electronic duo Lamb. In the film, the song is one of those perfect inclusions that works thematically -- there's really no better song for that moment, every word perfectly fitting into that moment -- while also existing as a secret little gem for the fans who know of "Gorecki." There's always a danger when including inside jokes or inside references in a work, but when it's so pitch-perfect for the moment, it helps the movie push forward while offering that secretly sweet little surprise.
But it's also more than a surprise. These are the moments that give viewers a strong and visceral connection to the film, where the story and words aren't just speaking to a general audience; they seem to be speaking directly to you. Without that private little secret, whether it's your favorite undervalued actor in a small role, that phrase you and your friends always use, that cinematography you love or one of your favorite pieces of music getting mainstream attention, the chances of really emotionally or mentally connecting to the film are so much less.
Below is the "Gorecki" scene from the film, and below that, the original song.