Singing, dancing, animals, fires, laugh and emotions. In one word: circus.
The musical The Greatest Showman, directed by the young Michael Gracey, tells the story of the famous P. T. Barnum, played by Hugh Jackman, and of his rise to the top in spite of (and ,maybe, thanks to) his Pindaric and Icarus flights.
The movie shows since the beginning the power of his spectacular, marked by massive scenarios, huge choreographies and energetic and very catchy songs, in the style of the classic musicals (maybe it’s because of the elephants, but in some points, it can make you think of “Moulin Rouge!”).
The songs are rightly an essential part, written to engage the people through a Coldplay-style pop. Basically, they are a clear example, in a musical field, of Barnum effect.
«Barnum effect: phenomenon whereby individuals give high accuracy ratings to descriptions of their personality that supposedly are tailored specifically to them but that are, in fact, vague and general enough to apply to a wide range of people.»
The writers are Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, Oscar winners for the lyrics of the La La Land‘s songs, and this year they are nominated for Best Original Song at the Golden Globes 2018 for “This is Me”. “The Greatest Showman” received two other important nominations at the Golden Globes for Best Motion Picture, in Musical or Comedy category, and with Hugh Jackman for Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture.
Jackman deserves the nomination indeed, with a performance full of feeling and in parts definitely thrilling. It won’t be the character that will go down in history (the adamantium claws are hard to forget), but certainly Jackman has managed to make exciting a dubious person, always at the forefront of a scandal wave, and not well known outside The United States.
The main theme is the outsider, easily incorporated through the Barnum’s freak show. In the 19th Century America, where the differences were evil and black people were still considered pretty much nothing but the help, a show with bearded women, dwarves on horseback and colored trapeze artist shocked everyone and attracted both negative and positive attention.
While in Italy Cosimo Gomez uses freak to create a gang of criminals commanded by Claudio Santamaria, Gracey elevates them to heroes.
Two very different movies, although they show two sides of the same coin: the Revenge of the Pariahs. The Greatest Showman is, on the whole, a good movie, that entertains and makes any audience laugh and it’s one of the best options for your Christmas 2017 movies selection.
Between Santa Claus and the Bearded Woman, choose the best beard!