Barnum inspires new generation in “The Greatest Showman”

by Managing Editor Hannah Zimmer

The 2017 musical film “The Greatest Showman” is a charming experience, taking viewers back to the time when people attended the circus rather than scrolling through newsfeeds for entertainment.

Acclaimed actor Hugh Jackman plays P.T. Barnum, the showman known for founding the long-running Barnum & Bailey Circus and blurring the line between truth and falsehood in his exhibits and shows.

Among the circus members is the bearded lady, Lettie Lutz, who can belt out the highest of notes. Actress Keala Settle sang the Golden Globe-winning song “This is Me,” which left me empowered to embrace originality.

The film also manages to tackle the subject of interracial relationships in a time when they were not accepted. Actors Zac Efron and Zendaya, who portray Phillip Carlyle, Barnum’s business partner, and acrobat Anne Wheeler respectively, definitely appealed to the romantics in the audience.

Although Rotten Tomatoes only gave the film 55 percent for its exclusion of the “complex subject’s far more intriguing real-life story,” “The Greatest Showman” provides relatable characters the audiences want to see succeed.

On the other hand, I do agree that the film lacked in its recount of history by completely omitting some of Barnum’s earliest work.

I hoped to see the inclusion of Barnum’s famous hoax from the early days of his career, where he claimed he found George Washington’s living 161-year-old nurse. However, director Michael Gracey completely skipped this interesting piece of history.

While “The Greatest Showman” developed the characters of Lettie, Phillip and Anne, the film failed to develop many other characters. Barnum’s wife, Charity, did not get her moment in the spotlight, and neither did several of the other circus members.

Also, the movie is predictable in the best way. From the opening credits to the last show tune, audience members can foresee what will happen next, as this is a common occurrence with family-friendly movies. Fortunately, these predictable scenes were pleasant ones.

However, even with its flaws, “The Greatest Showman” evokes imagination in children and adults alike. I found that Jackman brought magic into his role and did Barnum justice, even with the omission of some historical details.

It was a feel-good movie that came in the right moment and made audiences acknowledge the possibilities that could come into fruition in the new year.

Overall, I give “The Greatest Showman” four stars for its uplifting message that even outcasts can become whatever they choose if they only dream.

Not to mention, I will be singing songs from the movie for the rest of my life.