The popcorn’s ready in hand, the curtain begins to rise, the music begins to play from all around. It’s here, it’s about to begin… ladies and gentlemen it’s The Greatest Showman! The Greatest Showman is a Boxing Day family musical from 20th Century Fox. The film stars Hugh Jackman, Zac Efron, Michelle Williams, Rebecca Ferguson and Zendaya and follows the story of real life performer P.T Barnum (Jackman) and his wonderfully absurd but brilliant travelling museum; commonly known as his circus.
From the very beginning the film thrives on the early cinematic traditions of the spectacle. A strong powerful opening number performed by Barnum and his band of extraordinary performers immerse the audience in the film’s theatrical grasp before the opening credits have even finished. Flash forward a few scenes and we begin to see how Barnum built his performance empire alongside his wife (Williams), business partner (Efron), and collection of performers (Ferguson and Zendaya). From humble beginnings, the film takes us from the warehouses of downtown New York to the halls of Buckingham Palace and back again, all to the upbeat toe-tapping musical score of both the actors and their surroundings.
However, unlike most musicals the film’s sporadic tendency to break into song does not feel forced. In fact, the audience clamours for it. The music begins to blend into the scenery of the narrative, shaping its world around you. At times, the mise-en-scene almost feels as if you were watching one of Barnum’s shows in the most exquisite of theatres on Broadway.
Ultimately, the film is a modern-day theatrical spectacle that feels like the circus itself at times. It’s weird, it’s wonderful and it’s beautiful; everything the circus embodies. A film that anyone and everyone should see if they’re looking for enjoyment and the escape to the long-forgotten world of the spectacle.