There’s only one way to say it. The Greatest Showman is a Disneyfied depiction of P.T. Barnum’s founding of the Greatest Show on Earth. You’d love it if you aren’t fussy about historical accuracy.
The Greatest Showman Synopsis
A musical depiction of the triumphs and tribulations of P.T. Barnum, one of the founders of the legendary Barnum & Bailey Circus. The movie follows Barnum as he struggles to rise above poverty as a tailor’s son, his subsequent gathering of “freaks” for his first museum, and eventually, his success as ringmaster of the Greatest Show on Earth.
I’d say this first. I remain undecided about The Greatest Showman. On one hand, I enjoyed the exuberant music pieces and the lavish periodic backdrops. The choreography is also splendid and exhilarating.
On the other hand, this entire movie is only exuberant because it sanitised the life and personality of P.T. Barnum. There was no mention of his involvement in politics. There was also not a hint of how this was a man who didn’t hesitate to exploit less fortunate human beings for his own gain. Have I mentioned Barnum was a master of hoaxes too? (He’d have excelled at fake news)
Now, I’m not a stickler for historical accuracy in movies. Plus, The Greatest Showman is intended as festive season entertainment; I know.
I simply feel that the movie istoo sugary for its own good. Coming out from the cinema, I had this weird feeling that the story was too desperate to hide certain things. Voilà! A simple search on Wikipedia immediately revealed what the skeletons were.
Again, I don’t insist on historical or factual accuracy in popular entertainment, and the wiki itself stated Barnum was mostly forgiven by critics by the time of his death.
Still, a little less sanitisation would have added a world of depth to the tale, as well as enrich the screen personality of Barnum. After all, who goes to circuses only to see clowns? Do you?
Check out my other snappy movie reviews.