It was a bad day. The Mister was under a big deadline and my chronic pain had flared up. We were frowning and on edge as we looked for what movie to watch that evening. From the moment The Greatest Showman began, all those things melted away and we were both grinning from ear to ear.
What is The Greatest Showman About?
Phineas Taylor Barnum is best known as the founder of the Barnum and Bailey Circus, but this movie shows his life long before the touring company was a glint in his eye. His first large-scale endeavor was actually a museum, a cabinet of curiosities full of questionable content meant to titillate and awe rather than inform.
He extended this desire to tickle the imaginations of the public by assembling a performing company of oddities such as a “bearded lady”, as well as trapeze and other acts of derring-do.
What I Thought of The Greatest Showman
The film uses all of these fabulous settings and characters to create an incredible spectacle that would make Barnum proud. There were fabulous full company numbers with horses, elephants, and all the stops pulled out. But my favorites were actually smaller numbers that had incredibly clever choreography. Barnum and his wife have an fantastic duet on a roof top among billowing laundry. Then there’s a duet between Barnum and a potential partner as he brought him into the fold, and the choreo is so tight and wonderful I laughed out loud. Another involved a high-flying trapeze love ballad, which was spectacular but also intimate and lovely.
Though of course the history of “freak shows” and what they say both about society at large and the possible exploitation of vulnerable people, it did make an attempt to at least touch on this. Where Barnum stumbles is when he abandons his circus family in pursuit of glory among the elite, but the song where they all come back together has stuck with me for days to come.
If you need something to uplift and bring a little dazzle to your life, I couldn’t recommend The Greatest Showman more!