The Greatest Showman has officially turned Hannah Parker, the musical-hater into a musical LOVER.
Mamma Mia, La La Land, it’s all the same cheesy bullshit to me. But then comes The Greatest Showman – the film nobody can stop talking about. The film that didn’t receive a single Oscar yet is still going strong at the cinema after five months. The film that has released songs everybody is singing along to.
The trailer looked entertaining, colourful, fun but it still screams “cheesy musical”. I was under the illusion the film would be a mediocre hit and die down after the first month. Oh, how wrong I was. After months of my mother pestering me, I decided to accompany her to see it. Thank goodness I did.
Yes, it’s cheesy. Yes, the romantic scenes are sickly sweet. Yes, some of the songs are corny – but my word is it uplifting.
But let’s get the negative points out of the way first. After all, it’s certainly not perfect. Hugh Jackman’s portrayal of P. T. Barnum shows a selfish, white cis male who’s basically a dickhead for a significant portion of the film. He’s forgiven far too easily by his wife, his kids, and the talent that helped to create his circus. But that’s not the only annoyance.
Although the animals in the film are made with CGI and effects, it’s still a reminder of how animals were abused in circuses; although not only animals. The movie depicts a very happy family of “freaks”, but there are many reports to suggest that the acts (both humans and animals) were abused. The reality of circuses in the 1800’s was likely much more sinister.
However, let’s remember that it’s a musical and take it with a pinch of salt. Besides, there’s so much great work oozing from this film that it can almost be overlooked.
The bearded lady, Lettie Lutz (played by Keala Settle) is an incredible incarnation of empowerment. Her song “This Is Me” is quite simply breath-taking. There are very few moments in film that are as uplifting as this, and it’s hard to believe anyone could watch it and not get a lump in their throat.
The bearded lady, Lettie Lutz (played by Keala Settle) is an incredible incarnation of empowerment. Her song “This Is Me” is quite simply breath-taking.
The way in which the film tackles interracial relationships of that time, and how people of colour were treated (in particular by the wealthy) is something we don’t see often in feel-good films. It’s refreshing to see a movie such as this one tackling a subject that should be explored much more than it currently is in Hollywood.
The underlying message behind the film is simply that we should celebrate humanity, and by humanity, they mean every single aspect of humanity. No matter how tall or short, how thin or fat, skin colour, facial hair, body art, these differences make us human. These unique aspects of each and every person are exactly what make us who we are, and we should never be made to feel ashamed of that.
I will admit that this film has made me question my stubborn attitude towards musicals. We live in a world full of hate, segregation and prejudice, we need more movies like this to show us what being human really is. Or at the very least, just to give us some great songs and dance routines that stick in our heads long enough to survive another day.
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