I hate circuses. Can’t stand the over enthusiastic acts and forced frivolity, but I do have an appreciation for what they have brought to performance art. I also do understand that when they first started up, it was the only way some of the acts could make money, so while I don’t like watching a circus I am thankful for some of the things that have come out of them.
I am obviously not here today to talk to you about my dislike of the circus, but rather to tell you my thoughts on “The Greatest Showman”, if you don’t want spoilers, look away now, although I won’t be giving a blow by blow account as it is new out and I don’t wish to completely ruin the film for anyone who hasn’t heeded my warning.
The film follows (dubiously) the life of Phineas Taylor Barnum (Hugh Jackman), who thankfully they have let sing in a studio this time, maybe learning from the mistakes of “Les Mis” and the live action singing. This film has a rafter of characters from a bearded lady (Keala Settle) to Tom Thumb (Sam Humphreys) all of who play their parts in a really well presented manner.
I didn’t mind this film, although there were some great annoyances. First though, let me tell you the good things.
The visuals of this film are lush and colourful, it is a treat for the eye with its lavish sets and costumes. The choreography is excellent and has changing styles of dance, so if you are looking for something that is pretty to watch, then this is a film you should see.
There is a great scene between Barnum and Phillip (Zac Efron) as they strike up a deal to go in to partnership together. Here the choreography and music balance seamlessly, in a comical discourse. This scene really sealed the deal for the characters relationship and made that come alive for the audience.
Character relationships on the most part are well built up and maintained, although the love story between Phillip and Anne (Zendaya) only appears to be an undertone until about half way through the film, to which makes some of the actions a little confusing (I found).
Now on to my frustrations. Firstly, Jenny Lind (Rebecca Ferguson) was supposed to be a famous European opera singer, yet when she appears on stage, while her voice is good… it is clearly not operatic. Which begs the question, why mention she was an opera singing, or why didn’t you create an aria for her to sing? Also history denotes that Jenny Lind was Swedish, yet in the film she had a perfect clipped English accent. This just felt a little like a failing for the film, in a judgement call to make her appealing and keep the musical style in with all the other songs within the film.
Next, Barnum’s daughter’s. In one of the songs he states that he has been working on his “circus” for years, yet his daughters help him with the initial set up (posting flyers) and they stay the same age through out. Now as much as I would love to have stayed 21 forever I clearly wasn’t blessed with the same aging genetics as these two girls. Perhaps Barnum should have popped them in to his show.
CGI animals should not happen! Well not in this film anyway. While the elephants look ok, the lions and dancing horses at the end look like they were thrown in from a different film and while not overly noticeable if you’re watching all the action, I don’t and this served as a irritation for me.
The love stories, were quite unnecessary in my opinion, although, this could well be because I am not a chick flick kind of girl, therefore these do not appeal to me in the slightest. The film could have survived off the merit of the circus set up and rising success and downfall, but I guess films need to cover a lot of bases.
Overall the film is enjoyable, and the songs are catchy. It is probably even more enjoyable if you know nothing about Barnum or his actual life.
If you are interested in finding out about the real P. T. Barnum you can find more information on him here
Have you seen the film? Why not tell me what you thought of it in the comments?