A young idealist named Christian moves to Paris in the summer of 1899. There he meets a host of characters including Toulouse Lautrec and Harold Zidler, who owns a lavish nightclub called the 'Moulin Rouge'. Lautrec uses Christian to plug his new play and so dresses him up to convince one of Zidler's best employee's, the courtesan Satine (who also suffers from tuberculosis a.k.a. consumption), to get the play on Zidler's priorities. Zidler also fixes an "appointment" between an evil Duke and Satine on the very same night so that the rich Duke will invest in his nightclub. Satine mistakes Christian for the Duke and inadvertentely falls in love with him and vice versa. Zidler convinces the Duke to invest, but Satine and Christian must keep their love a secret as the Duke believes that Satine loves him and also he is by nature a very jealous man. When the Duke finds out about their secret affair, he gives Satine an ultimatum: she must either do the play his way and go with him at the end of the play, or he will have Christian killed. Satine decides to save Christian and goes on with the show whereas Christian decides to confront Satine about it. When he does, Satine decides to blow off the Duke and go with Christian. She then suffers an undefined but probable respiratory attack and dies of her condition behind the curtains. Christian grieves but a year later, writes their story.
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