The Greatest Showman Movie review

Dec 29, 2017, 13:38 IST | Johnson Thomas

The inspiring story of how P T Barnum the legendary 19th-century ringmaster, originated his first full-fledged circus act after trying his luck with giving unusual looking people a leg-up on the performance stage, this film may have omitted out much

The Greatest Showman
U/A; Biography, Drama, Musical

Director: Michael Gracey
Cast: Hugh Jackman, Zac Efron, Zendaya, Rebecca Ferguson, Michelle Williams, Natasha Liu Bordizzo
Rating: 3 and half stars

The Greatest Showman

The inspiring story of how P T Barnum the legendary 19th-century ringmaster, originated his first full-fledged circus act after trying his luck with giving unusual looking people a leg-up on the performance stage, this film may have omitted out much of the seamier side of that do-gooding philosophy but it doesn't renege on the entertainment.

Barnum's indelible influence on American and world culture is barely acknowledged so this film manages to give his historic efforts it's due moment in the sun. In a way, Barnum was giving these marginalised people space in the mainstream but he was also exploiting them to fill-in his own coffers. He did tag them as amazing though and also paid them a minimum wage. The only time this amazing and luminous spectacle of song and dance makes a sidebar reference to the exploitation/class segregation is when they show Barnum relegating his star performers to the backstage while he himself goes up front and accrues the accolades for his masterstroke of getting renowned opera singer Jenny Lind(Rebecca Gergusson) to perform for him.

After his initial attempt to draw crowds to a museum of wax figures, taxidermy and assorted other curios fails to take off, Barnum(Hugh Jackman), the poor struggling orphan who fuelled his ambitions on love for rich society matron Charity(Michelle Williams), imagination, opportunity and perseverance, seizes on the idea of authentic human oddities and gets them to exaggerate their differences so that the paying public get hoodwinked.

In a 19th and early 20th-century context, the vaudeville whose later moniker - the circus, were places where those who had skills or who were rejected by society could find a home. Even Cary Grant, considered one of Hollywood's most luminous stars, who was born into acute poverty and hardships, got his start as a tumbler in a vaudeville troupe. So Barnum could well be credited with having given these classless, cheerful and carefree peculiarly perceived misfits reason enough to live, laugh and be loved.

Director Michael Gracey makes this Barnum's biopic, written by Jenny Bicks and Bill Condon, a bright, colourful and glowing entrancement punctuated with 11 memorable songs composed by Benj Pasek And Justin Paul (Oscar-winning 'La La Land' fame). Gracey's film celebrates diversity while embracing all kinds and that's the spirit in which it is cast- the entire cast and crew (Hugh Jackman, Zac Effron, Michelle Williams, Rebeca Fergusson, Zendaya et al) rise up to the occasion giving a splendorous rendition of a life filled with glittering performances, nnimble-footed prancing, high octaves, hard-sell, colour, verve and gaiety. Worth the price of your ticket for sure!

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