The Greatest Showman Underscores Dreams and Imagination
In a world drowning in depressing news and crushed dreams, I think we all need a little bit of The Greatest Showman.
Starring the amazing Hugh Jackman as P.T. Barnum, this musical follows the story of Barnum’s rise from rags to riches. However, it offers so much more than a one-time hope for gaining wealth. At the end of it, it’s about family and priorities. It’s about love and what matters most.
Clearly, in recent months, there has been some backlash against the movie, claiming it fantasizes too much and makes Barnum into a hero. Admittedly, if you do some research on P.T. Barnum, he was more of a businessman than a family man and advocate. There are certainly some not-so-rosy moments in his past, which the move doesn’t address. You can find out more about what is real in the movie and what isn’t here.
However, if you are willing to understand the movie is based on P.T. Barnum and that it takes creative liberties, there is something inspiring to be found within the couple of hours of singing and dancing.
Let me say I’m not usually a musical kind of person. Sometimes I find it annoying when every characters breaks into song in every scene. I often find the music pretentiously cheesy and not quite something I’d want to pop into the stereo system in my car. The Greatest Showman is different. The music isn’t overdone--songs appear in the movie at exactly the right moment to be musical enough but not over the top. Furthermore, the music is amazing. I’ve been literally humming the songs all week long. The lyrics are beautiful and catchy. I actually bought the soundtrack to The Greatest Showman because movie or not, they’re songs I would listen to regardless.
The storyline itself is also inspiring. The rags to riches trope has been done before, but in this sense, the movie goes a step farther. What happens when you reach the riches from the rags? How does this impact your psyche, your relationships? Like the one song in the movie, “Never Enough,” how do you know when it’s time to sit back and enjoy what you’ve created? This is something Barnum struggles with in the movie, to his peril. It’s something I think so many of us struggle with in a world that values more, more, more. I loved that reminder.
Visually, the movie is stunning. Just stunning. The colors, the dancing, the choreography--it’s simply a pretty movie to watch. Every shot, every camera angle is masterfully done to make the most out of every single moment. There isn’t a single scene in the movie that is boring to look at, which I appreciated it. Thinking about the time that went into the behind-the scenes, which is recognized with an opening by the director and Jackman at the beginning, adds another layer to this movie masterpiece.
The acting was also a five out of five star job. I’ve always had a bit of a crush on Zac Efron; the crush has been reignited. I loved his portrayal of his character, a wealthy man who gives it all up for Barnum’s crazy vision, only to find something even more important: love. The scene with the song “Rewrite the Stars” is by far the most poignant of the film, and a large part of this is because of Efron’s charm and charisma. Jackman also delivers a stellar performance, playing the sometimes selfish and always charming Barnum. His relationships with the other characters in the movie came through vividly. Even though he makes many mistakes in the movie, he has redeeming qualities that allow audiences to fall in love with the character.
There are certainly flaws in the fact this movie perhaps portrays Barnum as a hero when he did things that were not heroic or admirable in real life. However, at the end of the day, the musical wasn’t intended to be a day-by-day biographical account of the man. It was meant to take the culture of the time period and the origins of the circus and bring it to life. It was meant to inspire us to chase our dreams and to find happiness at all costs, no matter who we are.
Most of all, whether Barnum intended to or not, he reminds us all that everyone has a place on the stage and that we have the choice to make that stage for ourselves if the world won’t give it to us. He reminds us that no matter where you come from, you can find your place to shine. You can bring those wildest dreams to life.
So 100% true or not, I think this film underscores a human truth many of us have forgotten and need to hear again.
Have you seen The Greatest Showman? What did you think? Find out more information on their Facebook or go see it today.