The Greatest Showman a.k.a the musical about the start of American showbiz

By Carlotta Westphal

Despite not being one of the most anticipated movies of the year 2018, “The Greatest Showman“ certainly does not disappoint as an opener for the 2018 movies that are yet to be released.

The $84m production of “The Greatest Showman“ is based on the story of P.T. Barnum, who is said to be the founder of American show business. Barnum is a prime example of a “from rags to riches“ story as he comes from a poor background but has the dream of working his way up in order to be able to offer his family the life he never had.

Hugh Jackman is not someone one would expect in the role of a circus manager but his singing was surprisingly good and his believable and very optimistic grin qualified him for the part.

The Academy Award winner  Michelle Williams embodied Charity Barnum, the wife of P.T. Barnum, quite well but the role itself was a little bland. The character did not have a lot of scenes in which Williams could demonstrate her usually splendid acting abilities.

Zendaya (21) and Zac Efron (30) seem to be the magnets for the younger audience. Teenage girls will be ecstatic that Zac Efron is part of a musical again, ten years after the first High School Musical movie was shot.

With her black heritage Zendaya has always been a supporter of the equality movement and fits perfectly into a movie that conveys the message that everybody is beautiful, no matter what they look like.

Both Zac and Zendaya perform well but the developing love story between their characters seems strange because Zendaya’s character is the only one out of the ‘circus crew’ who has a relatively decent amount of screen time. I believe that the director extended Zendaya’s part and added a couple of lines in order to make the most of the fee they paid for her screen time.

Sometimes it’s the reoccurring tried and tested ways of film-making that are supposed to lure people into the movie theaters. Add a little wow-effect with the help of technology to put emphasis on the fact that the movie was produced in the 21st century and ‘swoosh’ there is your recipe for a good mediocre Hollywood movie.

There are two types of Hollywood musicals: those like “La La Land“ (2016) and “Grease“  (1978)  that can be watched over and over again on DVD, Netflix, Amazon Prime, you name it, and those that are simply fun to watch on the big screen but (sadly) only leave a fleeting impression, like “The Greatest Showman“.

The musical is definitely interesting to watch, as it offers innumerable aspects one can pay attention to. Most Hollywood musicals do not have a very in-depth plot but “The Greatest Showman“ uses a couple of techniques to direct the audience’s attention to the characters’ emotions.

For example, certain parts of scenes are muted and displayed in slow motion in order to appeal to the emotions of the audience.

Truth be told, it truly worked for me. Watching the musical had my emotions all over the place. I had tears welling up in my eyes, five minutes into the movie. Then, a little later in the movie when Keala Settle (the bearded lady) started performing a very touching song called “This is me“, a song about not being ashamed of who you are, I was done for.

Most simple comedies and rom coms are very clichéd and so is “The Greatest Showman“. Personally, I feel second-hand embarrassment very quickly and therefore dreaded the already predictable drama.

As a twenty-year old, one thing I am truly thankful for is how the director handled the kissing scene between Hugh Jackman (49) and Michelle Williams (37). If you have seen Bridget Jones’ Baby, you might know why I am glad that we did not get a cringeworthy makeout session but rather got to focus on the colors of the sunset and Charity Barnum’s light blue dress that was waving in the wind and made her look like Alice in Wonderland.

All in all it was a great movie that is definitely worth watching because it guarantees 105 min of entertainment, but if you expect a thoroughly planned out plot accompanied by great music, breathtaking costumes and grandiose dance choreographies you might not be disappointed exactly, but a little dissatisfied.

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