Having grown up loving musicals I’m always interested in seeing how modern creatives take up the mantle. We know the Golden era of Hollywood to consist of really tight, well choreographed, at times upbeat, fast paced, overall classic musicals. In today’s age, we don’t see as many musicals brought to life on screen. Not to say that these past few years we haven’t seen an escalation in on screen musicals. What I’m saying is, today’s musical needs to have a variety of levels to capture, entertain and make an impact on audiences around the world. I feel like this was achieved in The Greatest Showman (directed by Australian, Michael Gracey).
Between the performances, the themes, the choreography, the music, story and costuming we have an all round wonderful piece of art. I’m always so pleased when a film takes on a theme and really hones in the concept within an uplifiting setting. The theme here being, acceptance. Of embracing how unique each and every one of us are and highlighting the importance of equality and creativity. I’ve always loved quotes to do with imagination and I feel like this movie is one big quote promoting how inspiring you can truly be utilizing the power of imagination.
For me the major thing that stood out was the choreography (by Australian, Ashley Wallen) and for that matter how the dancing worked in amoungst the stunning sets. I was getting elements of Moulin Rouge!, Strictly Ballroom, Kenny Ortega inspired choreography. We had the full cast choreography at different parts of the movie, like in the circus ring, where special effects were utilized to create such a spectacular moment as Lettie Lutz (Keala Settle) sings and everyone else is jumping in slow motion. Then when Anne Wheeler (Zendaya) and Phillip Carlyle (Zac Efron) are doing their duet with the amazing utilization of the rope as a tool to move around and work within the space. Capped off with the stellar performance in the bar at the end of the movie. I honestly left the theatre thinking, where can I find a video or teacher to learn these dances?!
A lot can be said with the opening song of a musical. Upon hearing the opening song in The Greatest Showman, I instantly thought, this is going to be good. I also thought about other musicals where the song made an impact on me, Les Miserables, Frozen, The Wizard of Oz, just to name a few. Hugh Jackman as P.T. Barnum really hones in on what I was talking about before, that old world Hollywood style of performing, he can do action, he can do drama, and he can sing and dance. Which we’ve known for years, but this film harnesses all of that. I knew a couple of the tracks enough to bop along to the beat, but I was even doing so with the songs I didn’t know. There were some tunes that reminded me of musicals and shows I’ve seen or heard of over the years. Parts of the dancing and singing reminded me of the TV series Smash. It’s not hard to see the influence, genius, Lin Manuel Miranda has had on the industry. Also on what is the anniversary release of Chicago (2002) it’s great to see how elements of that iconic musical are still prevalent in today’s artistic ventures. I actually want to marathon all these movies and albums, The Greatest Showman was that inspiring.
Knowing very little about P.T Barnum, Hugh Jackman appears to have pulled the role off. I’ve already spoken about just how talented Jackman is when it comes to his overall performance, but I feel there were others in the film that totally surprised me. That being Zac Efron and Zendaya. Both originating from the Disney club, their performances exceeded my expectations. Not to say I thought they wouldn’t be on par with Jackman, I left the theatre thinking they were talents to watch out for in the years to come. I also loved the performances by Keala Settle, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II as W.D. Wheeler, Michelle Williams as Charity Barnum and Rebecca Ferguson as Jenny Lind. I loved the interaction between all the characters, particularly these. In the scenes that are significantly more emotional, and of course the singing and dancing. Another element that comes into play here are the costumes. They add so much to a character and again, the film was rich and lush in colour and overall helped bring that other element of creative genius to the film. I also left the cinema wanting every single one of Michelle Williams’ looks.
Overall, from start to finish you’ll be entertained. We start off with a glimpse of what to expect, we begin to discover a world of imagination and creativity and then we go through the paces of what life can behold. If you haven’t seen this film, make sure you do so in theatres now.