‘The Greatest Showman’ Brings The Wonders of The Circus to Your Local Theatre

Credit: 20th Century Fox

Credit: 20th Century Fox

Meleah York, Assistant Editor

I am pretty picky when it comes to movies. I only see the ones I want, that are worth seeing, because I’m not going to pay to see a bad movie or any movie more than once, for that matter. Usually one hit of watching a film in the theater is good enough for me, because I can just buy the DVD once it comes out. But with this new sensational, incredible, and gorgeous movie musical, The Greatest Showman, I went to see it twice. And to be honest? I’ll probably go again.

The Greatest Showman is the story of P.T. Barnum, the man responsible for the creation of one of the most successful circuses in history. Barnum was the first to rise up in the mid-1800s and provide outlandish entertainment for the ever growing and changing industrial America. His shows were family-oriented, encouraging bravery and diversity, sights and wonders, and while some aspects were considered hoaxes, Barnum gave cheer and amazement to Americans across the country.

The movie captured Barnum’s journey out of poverty to establishing a family of his own. When he is let go from his railroad job, Barnum is left with an idea that stemmed from inspiration of people he’d seen in his past, oddities and misfits like the Tattooed Man, Dog Boy, or the Bearded Lady. The creation of what we know today as stereotypical circus attractions comes to life through uplifting music. Barnum brings these characters out of the shadows to showcase the uniqueness of each individuals, presenting many people who were different as equals. Scenes showcased trapeze artists and gymnasts in the ring, dancing amongst confetti and fire, animals and the cheers of the crowd.

The aesthetics are mesmerising. The mix of mid-1800s scenery and costumes is complemented by the modern and upbeat music, an interesting mix and concept to have as a movie musical, but surprisingly it worked. I was on the edge of my seat for the entire show, craving more with each song or scene.

A demonstrator of the snark and elegance of Barnum, Hugh Jackman was perfect for this role. A triple threat, in this movie he dances, sings, and acts beautifully all throughout. Zac Efron, who plays Barnum’s (fictional) partner Phillip Carlisle, experiences the eye-opening wonder of the circus. A white upper class man born into wealth, he falls in love with black trapeze artist Anne Wheeler (Zendaya), and together they sing a beautiful duet, “Rewrite The Stars,” to express their longing for each other in a world unaccepting of interracial couples.

Another notable moment is the Swedish singer Jenny Lind (Loren Allred) and her performance of “Never Enough”, a breathtaking scene. Lind’s voice entrances her audience, but also gives Barnum promises of unimaginable wealth. He takes her on an American tour in 1850, driven by the disrespect his wife’s family has for him as a successful businessman to become wealthy and prove himself as worthy.

Easily my favorite scene comes after Lind’s performance, witnessed by the freaks from the circus. When they try to come into the ballroom after party, they are shut out by Barnum, who doesn’t want his new reputation to be muffled by his circus. The group, including the Bearded Lady (Keala Settle), sing the Golden-Globe original song winner, “This Is Me,” marching together through the building. They shock fancy showgoers and walk outside to face the protesters who despise the attempted normalizing of these circus freaks. It’s an uplifting battle cry to those who feel like they don’t belong and have been pushed into the shadows.

I’ll stop here so as to not give spoilers for those of you who have not seen this movie yet, but I highly recommend that you do. The soundtrack is incredible, and each song has powerful messages that are exciting and uplifting. From the choreography, to the acting, to the music, this movie’s portrayal of the bonds and strength formed inside the circus and the story of wonder, awe, and courage is one for the ages. A movie like this is needed now more than ever, for those who feel alone and are without a place in this world. “Circus freaks” of the twenty-first century will find a place to belong within the inspirational telling of how an ordinary man gave outcasts their deserved chance to stand out and be proud of who they are, because the very things that make them outcasts are the same things that make them unique and beautiful.