The Greatest Showman (Review)

With such a great film, it is difficult to decide where to start. This movie was flawlessly done, from the cinematography down to the imagery and the costumes, this movie exudes excellence! Because it is so difficult to find a starting point, I suppose we can start with the beginning:

Opening

There's something about that classic 20th Century Fox Films Fanfare at the beginning of the movies that just tells me that I will thoroughly enjoy what's to come...

We open the official movie with the upbeat opening number "The Greatest Show". The image of Hugh Jackman posing with his back to the screen, long lapels, and a cane in a beautiful red coat. This creates an intense feeling of anticipation. The audience of show-goers ready to be handed happiness by none other than P.T. Barnum himself! All of this, a day dream, of course, of young P.T. Barnum staring into a shop window at the beautiful three-piece suit and top coat that he would one day wear.

The costume design by Ellen Mirojnick for this movie was insanely brilliant. The long lapels, double breasted coats, undone bowties and thick threading of every trench coat, pea coat and three piece suit fit flawlessly with the old-timey feel of the movie. 

One of my absolute favorite costumes of this movie belonged to young Charity Barnum while in boarding school. It was a Tiffany blue school girl uniform with a black neck-tie and white accents. 

Every costume and outfit was clearly thought out to match the character's back story. From Lettie Lutz's décolleté, dark satin purple dress to Phillip Carlyle's torso-hugging pure white button-up shirts with a perfectly laid white bowtie, undone of course. Mirojnick considered it all, and it shows. 

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This Is me

This powerful cry, better yet, scream could bring tears to the toughest person in the movie theater. 

This number was a testament to those who have ever been looked down upon or treated negatively for the things that made them different. 

Every time I hear this song, I can imagine the cast walking through the grand room of the theater with the upscale show-goers staring at them in disgust. Lettie leads her fellow showmen with her voice and her confidence which, in turn, creates confidence in them as they all stomp past those that do not understand them. The power of this scene is euphoric. I feel its power every time I hear this song. Keala Settle is a powerhouse and I hope she continues to create magnetic bliss with her voice the way she has in this film. 

Themes

You can tell how great a film is by how well they can tie many themes into one storyline. This film was full of meaningful themes. Some that I did not even catch until my second viewing, and many that I probably still have not caught. 

This film covers racism, classism, discrimination, love, humanity, and so much more. Each theme subtly tied into the other. The forbidden love shared by Anne Wheeler and Phillip Carlyle dealt specifically with racism, classism and insecurities. It was beautifully shown in the eyes of Zac Efron and Zendaya in scene after scene. 

We even learned a lesson or two from the theater critic himself, James Gordon Bennett played by Paul Sparks, but I won't spoil that story for you.

Dancing

Every dance number was memorable! When does this happen? NEVER. 

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Ashley Wallen of Queensland, Australia has created musical magic once again

The up-to-date dance moves in this film were insanely brilliant and memorable. From Anne Wheeler's hair pat in the final number to the footwork in "This Is Me", Wallen created modern musical gold.

Each number had fast paced footwork that hit every beat of the music. The intensity and energy of the characters in conjunction with it was vibrant, to say the least. I can never listen to "From Now On" without at a minimum giving it a solid shimmy (I owe this much!). 

For this movie, and so many more, Wallen should go down in history as one of the best choreographers to ever do it. This may just be my opinion, but when I go see a movie over and over (paying full price, mind you) just to get down the choreography so that I can properly dance to it at home, I think that is the impact that many choreographers strive for when they create a number. He managed to do this with every dance number in the film. Never have I been so inspired to figure out how to move these two left feet of mine! 

 

Zendaya.gif
 Let's discuss Bay Area's own, Zendaya as Anne Wheeler:   I initially had  no  idea that Zendaya could sing. I believe she came to the Disney Channel when I was already bitter about no longer having my Boy Meets World, my Even Stevens, and my Lizzie McGuire's. When I downloaded The Greatest Showman soundtrack about a week or two prior to the movie's release and listened to "Rewrite The Stars" I remember Tweeting how sad I was to have missed out on her talents for  this  long.   Anne Wheeler's character is this tough and beautiful African American woman who performs alongside her brother W.D. Wheeler as trapeze acts. What immediately caught my attention was the fact that they did not do what typical movies do, which is, take the clearly beautiful woman and make her the clearly beautiful woman (same with Keala Settle). They hardened her, gave her a tougher and less graceful walk, they made her a more rigid but insecure character. I could see parts of myself in this character which is what made her so relatable and also made the movie that much more magical for me.    Also, we cannot discuss "Rewrite the Stars" without at least commenting on her amazing body and her intense and believable connection with Zac Efron's character, Phillip Carlyle. These two together are musical genius. Their eyes meeting is magic, it's breathtaking. I could blame that on Zac Efron's great acting or on Zendaya's perfection, but whatever the cause may be their love is believable.   Finally, I am not sure if Zendaya just loves butterflies or not but, her butterfly dress while at the theater in the movie and also the Moschino dress that she wore on opening night of The Greatest Showman were stunning. I am oddly, and probably irrationally, afraid of butterflies, but, seeing her in these beautiful dresses with her perfectly made-up face just makes me want a pet butterfly (I'll name him Carlyle).   Moving on, because I could talk about her for hours. 

Let's discuss Bay Area's own, Zendaya as Anne Wheeler: 

I initially had no idea that Zendaya could sing. I believe she came to the Disney Channel when I was already bitter about no longer having my Boy Meets World, my Even Stevens, and my Lizzie McGuire's. When I downloaded The Greatest Showman soundtrack about a week or two prior to the movie's release and listened to "Rewrite The Stars" I remember Tweeting how sad I was to have missed out on her talents for this long. 

Anne Wheeler's character is this tough and beautiful African American woman who performs alongside her brother W.D. Wheeler as trapeze acts. What immediately caught my attention was the fact that they did not do what typical movies do, which is, take the clearly beautiful woman and make her the clearly beautiful woman (same with Keala Settle). They hardened her, gave her a tougher and less graceful walk, they made her a more rigid but insecure character. I could see parts of myself in this character which is what made her so relatable and also made the movie that much more magical for me.  

Also, we cannot discuss "Rewrite the Stars" without at least commenting on her amazing body and her intense and believable connection with Zac Efron's character, Phillip Carlyle. These two together are musical genius. Their eyes meeting is magic, it's breathtaking. I could blame that on Zac Efron's great acting or on Zendaya's perfection, but whatever the cause may be their love is believable. 

Finally, I am not sure if Zendaya just loves butterflies or not but, her butterfly dress while at the theater in the movie and also the Moschino dress that she wore on opening night of The Greatest Showman were stunning. I am oddly, and probably irrationally, afraid of butterflies, but, seeing her in these beautiful dresses with her perfectly made-up face just makes me want a pet butterfly (I'll name him Carlyle). 

Moving on, because I could talk about her for hours. 

Rebecca Ferguson & Loren Allred

"Never Enough" was performed by Jenny Lind when P.T. Barnum brought her to America based on her reputation. He had planned their national takeover but when it came, it hit him like a ton of bricks. All of the fame came to be based on one song, "Never Enough".

This song, sung by Loren Allred, is another one of this movie's powerhouse songs. It was very unexpected as it was not one of the heavily advertised numbers, but it was one of the movie's best kept secrets. 

The emotions that went through me each time I watched this movie, this scene in particular, were vast in variety. We can start with the chills that you get when watching the flawless lip-syncing by Rebecca Ferguson and we can finish with the angelic voice of Loren Allred. This number will make every hair on your body stand on end and bring tears to your eyes. It did for me.   

Hugh Jackman & Zac Efron

Finally, I want to discuss our two musical veterans. I will start by saying that I love these two together. Not just because they are both handsome with amazing voices, but also because they are both passionate about every project that they do. 

Hugh Jackman literally becomes each and every character that he plays. Two out of three of my favorite movies have Hugh Jackman in them and he is completely transformed in each movie. That type of versatility in one person, one creator, one actor -- is timeless. 

What also stood out for me, since Les Miserables is another favorite movie of mine, was the fact that Hugh Jackman sounds differently in each film. His vocal range and ability is stunning, to say the least. Along with that, his acting is always exactly as it should be. He is P.T. Barnum through and through just like he is Logan and he is Jean Valjean. 

Zac Efron, you have come a long way from your Summerland days, but that is how I knew you best. When I saw Efron make the move to the Disney Channel and into musicals, I was nothing short of shocked. I fell into the High School Musical craze just like everyone else and have probably watched that movie a million times. Efron went on to make more films aligned with his age, but, in making his return to musicals this year, he leaves everyone questioning why he ever left.

Phillip Carlyle, a well-to-do and handsome young man becomes partners with P.T. Barnum and his circus. Carlyle shocked me the most because he turned out to be the complete opposite of who you would have expected him to be. His heart was as big and beautiful as his eyes throughout this movie and if you are able to watch this movie and not fall in love with Zac Efron doing musicals then you can knock me down with a feather because I believe he was born for this. 


I find it difficult to put this movie into few words (as you can see). And I have so much more to say on it, but I'd rather you see for yourselves. 

 If you wait to see it, you will regret having waited. If you rush to see it, you will see it time and time again. You'll laugh, you'll cry, and you will be happy.

The noblest act is that of making others happy.
— P.T. Barnum

Because I was interested in the man behind the film, I purchased and began to read the autobiography of P.T. Barnum. 

Read with me and let's all discuss: