The greatest musical ever

The greatest musical ever

Elliot Lee, Staff Writer

The Greatest Showman, released to theaters on Dec. 20, 2017, is loosely based on true story of P.T. Barnum, an American showman remembered for promoting celebrated hoaxes. This musical follows Barnum’s story in the mid- 1800s as he rises from a pauper to a rich circus performer. He’s played by Hugh Jackman, a famous Broadway actor whose voice lends a powerful tenor to support the musical’s soundtrack.

The Greatest Showman reflects a recent revival of musical movies. Originally started with the release of La La Land in 2016 — the first successful film since Les Miserables in 2012 — in which Hugh Jackman also played a main character. With its apparent success, The Greatest Showman is pioneering a new age in musicals.

The movie begins with an engaging dramatic song, revealing young Barnum’s dreams of becoming a showman, of making something out of himself. However, the song quickly cuts out to young Barnum looking at the outfit of a showman, revealing that he is just the son of a poor tailor on the way to meet a customer. There, he meets the daughter of the wealthy customer, a young girl named Charity Williams, played by Michelle Williams. Over the course of the movie, viewers follow P.T. and Charity’s lives while they live out their dreams of a life together, as expressed in the touching song “A Million Dreams.” With that song, the exposition wraps up, leaving high expectations for the rest of the movie.

For those who love authenticity in a film, The Greatest Showman does a wonderful job at it, despite straying far from historical accuracy. A majority of the aerial stunts performed by Zendaya and Zac Efron who play Phillip Carlyle and Anne Wheeler respectively, are done without a stunt double nor a net. The validity of it truly allows viewers to connect with the characters in a way unlike any other.

Throughout the film, characters overcome social prejudice through community which builds a feel-good mood that provides comfort to the watcher and invokes inspiration into the hearts of everyone. Matched with comedy and an incredible, tear-jerking soundtrack created by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, The Greatest Showman has the perfect balance between seriousness, suspense and lightheartedness.

All the melodies are of a slightly different genre, sure to appeal to various music tastes. The first in the very start of the movie has a bit of a rock and roll flavor to it, while others are more like pop or tunes found in traditional musicals. In each of the songs, there is an incredibly amount of symbolism, missed by all but the most perceptive. Some of those messages are masked with hauntingly beautiful voices and doubled with phenomenal cinematics which leave a heart-rending tremor in the audience. Listening to the songs has the power to invoke a tear from even the most callous.

Despite the powerful messages displayed through song, camera and characters, the plot can be slow moving and some scenes can leave the viewer with confusion, struggling to grasp the events that just occured because of the lack of explanation and dialogue by the characters. Others might argue it would have been better if it were more historically correct. For example, the character known as General Tom Thumb was exploited for his dwarfism, claiming to be twelve when he was five. By ages six and seven, he was drinking liquor and smoking cigars for entertainment. In the movie, none of this was brought to light.
The Greatest Showman may deter some viewers because it is a musical. Regardless, everyone should give it a chance because it is an experience not to be missed. The range of emotions affects people in such a dramatic way that it is a movie can be watched over and over again and never lose its passion.