In 1900, Christian, an impoverished writer who has come from England the year before, types his story: he arrived in Montmartre and fell in with Toulouse-Lautrec and Bohemians who believe in freedom, truth, beauty, and love. They want to sell a show to the Moulin Rouge, and its impresario wants a backer so he can build a proper theatre. He's plying a duke, who wants exclusive access to the favors of Satine, the Moulin Rouge's consumptive star. She wants to be a proper actress, so the duke's offer is fine - except that she and Christian fall in love. Can Satine keep the duke at bay without losing his patronage, will he discover the lovers and kill Christian, and can love trump jealousy?