“Fortune always favors the brave, and never helps a man who does not help himself” – P.T Barnum.
The Greatest Showman is a period musical drama, which tells the story of P.T Barnum and his journey toward creating one of the most successful circus shows in America.
Starring the ensemble cast comprising of Hugh Jackman, Michelle Williams, Zac Efron, Rebecca Ferguson and Zendaya, the film is based on Barnum’s history and his vision which led to the eventual creation of the popular Barnum & Bailey Circus, which closed down for good earlier this year.
Following Barnum’s story, the film romanticises the notion of pursuing one’s dreams and portrays one’s imagination as a powerful tool for success. Through Barnum’s perspective, we are shown that there is no shame in believing in the impossible; of daring to dream big and taking risks. The film’s plot illustrates that anything is possible and that man’s only limitation comes from the inability to imagine.
The Greatest Showman depicts the inspiring tale of a man who believes he’s destined for more, and who goes to great lengths to ensure he achieves his goals. It also depicts the cruel discrimination faced by those perceived as being different, ‘freaks’ as the film describes them.
Whilst the film illustrates Barnum’s open mindedness and acceptance of those who are ‘different’, it can be argued that he simply preyed upon their differences, portraying them as bizarre and wonderful in order to gain fame and fortune.
However, the feel good aspect of the film stems from the courage and confidence that Barnum instils in the minority group that he takes on, encouraging them to showcase their unique talents rather than hide them away, as well as providing them with sense of family.
The celebration and acceptance of difference in this film is a striking message to society, particularly in this day and age. The soundtrack, ‘This Is Me’, is a powerful rendition with lyrics that not only touches the soul but strongly encourages individuals to accept and love themselves for who they are.
The foreshadowing in the film plays a brilliant role in providing the audience with a sense of what’s to come. Like most musical dramas, success does come with some pitfalls as conflict arises between the film’s characters. Through effective use of song and thematic visuals, audiences are provided with a compelling story of overcoming hardship and the realisation of what is truly important.
The wonder and grandeur of the film ought to be noted as the film utilises fantastic visuals to paint the circus as an event which is jaw-dropping, bright, colourful and filled with joyful glee.
The spectacle of the film is also notable, with the toe-tapping soundtrack and marvelous choreography adding to the sense of magic, which carries itself throughout the film.
Each member of the cast played their roles brilliantly. Hugh Jackman reminded audiences of the powerful roles he’s able to play outside of being an aggressive and fearsome mutant. His showmanship, singing and dancing abilities were incredible, his presence demanding attention. Zac Efron’s performance, too, showed off the star’s talents when it comes to musicals, reminding us of his High School Musical days, though, he’s clearly not a teen anymore.
Despite consisting of some questionable plot points, masked by the splendour of the film, The Greatest Showman displays the marvel and spectacle of the circus, through brilliant use of visuals and soundtrack. The performances, particularly that of Jackman, were astounding and the story of rags to riches, is inspiring. For a feel good film to enjoy over the Christmas and New Year break, The Greatest Showman is recommended.
P.S The soundtrack is highly recommended as well. Perfect to sing along to.