Today, I finally went to see The Greatest Showman. I'd been interested in seeing it since I'd initially heard about it - but my interest was heightened when I saw this video with Hugh Jackman and some of the cast singing one of the songs in the initial reading (From Now On). When I saw the song in the movie, I was singing along too! And then I had friend after friend seeing it and saying that it was incredible. So I was pretty keen by the time I went in.
For those who don't know much of the story; The Greatest Showman is inspired by and loosely follows the life of P.T. Barnum, who was one of the figureheads of his time when it came to show business; probably one of the first to do this sort of thing. His show eventually morphed into the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, which had its final performance in May this year.
The film, however, showcases his progression from tailor's son, to married man, to owner of a museum of curiosities, to a show of fantastic people, to the circus we are more familiar with today. Many events are compressed or altered somewhat for dramatic purposes; for instance, Barnum did not start his circus until much later in life, having a long break after the museum burnt down, and having other pursuits (such as politics). The side character of Phillip Carlyle, along with his romantic interest, the trapeze artist Anne Wheeler, are both fictional. The bearded lady Barnum actually met when she was quite young, and she grew up in the show; not being known as "the bearded lady" until adulthood. Tom Thumb was also one of the later people that he met.
However, as a story, and conveyer of emotion, it works brilliantly. The songs are brilliant, and this is one soundtrack I know I'll be purchasing before long (I would now, but I have no money after Christmas...), and trying to learn on the piano. The costumes are loud and fun, and you fall in love with the characters. I'll admit, I found the voice coming out of Zac Efron's mouth somewhat...strange, just because it wasn't as boyish as I'm used to. But the performances were all incredible, particularly by the circus family.
As with many movies, it also worked to send a message. And the one portrayed in this movie was quite clear - it wasn't just about acceptance, but a celebration, of all people. That no person should feel excluded, belittled, made small or insignificant, by anyone else. Not because of their class, race, birth, looks, height, weight, or otherwise. For some reason, it's a lesson that we're still struggling to learn. Maybe one day we'll get there - but I won't be holding my breath.
The Greatest Showman is definitely worth watching. You may well get emotional, and if you watch it in the cinema, you may find yourself wanting to clap at the end - as a few people did in the showing I was in! Certainly worth going out to the cinemas for, rather than waiting for the DVD/Netflix.