I am an avid film fan, but much of my watching these days is on TV or computer screen, so my reactions and reviews tend to come later than a film’s release. Such is the case with The Greatest Showman, which I’ve enjoyed several times over the past week, including the excellent “extras” which reveal so much. It’s advertised as a “musical biopic of P.T. Barnum and his creation of the three-ring circus,” but is a fully-realized, beautifully-directed musical spectacle that combines its period setting with the best in costuming, makeup, and choreography.
The film was in my DVD queue because I adore Hugh Jackman, and because I had seen YouTube clips of what became the Oscar-winning best original song of 2018, “This is Me” (music and lyrics by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul). The first video I’m referencing here is an interview with director Michael Gracey and the singer, Keala Settle who performs the song as the Bearded Lady.
The next clip is the lyric video which facilitates sing-alongs for this uplifting anthem for society’s “oddities” and an assertion of identity for all of us.
When the sharpest words wanna cut me down
I’m gonna send a flood, gonna drown them out
I am brave, I am bruised
I am who I’m meant to be, this is me
There are plenty of tangents online once you start investigating The Greatest Showman: for example, this interview with Paul Sparks who plays the curmudgeon newspaper critic in the film.
A couple of the dance numbers, like the rooftop romp with Jackman and Michelle Williams, and the romantic duet between Zach Efron and Zandaya that moves from rolling on the sawdusted floor to flying through the air of the big top, are, well, a cure for cynicism.
OK, it’s a 2017 film, but see it and enjoy it.