The Greatest Showman is an original musical that celebrates the birth of show business through telling the story of the visionary and creative P.T Barnum. Barnum rose from nothing to create an extravaganza that would become a worldwide phenomenon: the Barnum and Bailey Circus.
The film is packed with a star-studded cast. It is directed by Michael Gracey and written by Jenny Bicks and Bill Condon. Famous celebrities Hugh Jackman, Zac Efron, Michelle Williams, and Zendaya Coleman are the familiar faces seen on screen.
Released seven months after the actual Barnum and Bailey Circus stopped running, the Greatest Showman has grossed 208 million dollars worldwide.
Reviews surrounding The Greatest Showman were mixed. Some praised the cast, music and production value, whereas others criticized the movie as “faux–inspiring and shallow”. Yet with all the mixed opinions, the beauty of the film lies within the messages it contains.
The movie revolves around three ideas – belief, perseverance, and inclusion. With the help of La La Land’s songwriters Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, audiences embark on a rags-to-riches journey. Through even the loss of his father and his job, Barnum’s relentless nature continues as he pursues his dream–a show like one never seen before– the Barnum Circus!
Based on a true story, Barnum’s circus at its time was considered scandalous yet strangely appealing. This led him to constantly face persecution from mobs. Barnum never faltered on his dream, however, and continued to attempt to be taken seriously as an artist. His perseverance helps him rise above challenges (with some help from his partner Phillip Carlyle, played by Zac Efron) and establish what became the Barnum and Bailey Circus.
Many people have criticised Barnum for exploiting the unique and challenged individuals who formed the acts in his circus. These unique people were considered degenerates, outsiders, and weird, but Barnum saw an opportunity for both them and himself. He chose to give them a platform to become celebrated for their differences.
The Greatest Showman is about dreams, pushing boundaries, and never giving up. The jury is debating whether the film is a hit, but its nomination for two Golden Globes and one Oscar sure makes a good case to be considered one.
In a world where fear is starting to dictate how and who we choose to interact with, a movie that emphasizes love and acceptance for all is a definite necessity. As Paul Sparks’ character James Gordon Bennett says in the movie “One might even call it a celebration of life”.