The Greatest Showman // Film Review




The Greatest Showman

Director: Michael Gracey

Released: 2017

Rating: ★★★★★



I didn’t want to write a blog about The Greatest Showman for one reason: there is no way I can fully articulate what I liked about this film and do it the justice I feel it deserves. I have now seen this film twice (within the space of two weeks) and I was just as blown away seeing it the second time as I was the first. I could definitely write a blog which is critical as well as praising, I appreciate that the film isn’t perfect but it affected me in such a way that all of my irks with the film basically became non-existent. Now I definitely have an adoration, or weakness, when it comes to musicals. However The Greatest Showman has been the first musical that has made me feel a very specific way after watching it and I guess this blog is going to capture the feeling that was effectively produced by this film. The first statement I will make – and I feel like I say this about every musical that I like, but the soundtrack is outstanding. I haven’t stopped listening to any of the songs since watching the film.

So firstly, the opening scene to this film was for me one of the best ways of opening a film. I’m pretty sure I didn’t take a breath for a good minute until Hugh Jackson starting singing with his breathy voice. Just by watching the choreography twinned with this incredibly catchy opening number “The Greatest Show”, I instantly knew I was going to be dumbfounded by the entire film. The moments of silence between the first few drum beats were filled by the pounding of my heartbeat, I was enthralled. Not only did “The Greatest Show” capture me but slowly it fizzled out and the film traversed back through time and introduced the second song of the film: “A Million Dreams”. This song was equally as incredible. It was hopeful and tinged with a sweet kind of sadness; usually in terms of songs it’s the lyrics that draw me towards it and encapture me and that is exactly what this song did. I don’t feel like I’m capable of explaining exactly what I like about this song but I’m just going to pick up on the one line that particularly amazed me.

“Cause every night I lie in bed
The brightest colors fill my head
A million dreams are keeping me awake”

As a lover of the nostalgic with high ambitions for the future, I completely ignore the present moment and this line completely spoke to me.

It wasn’t just the lyrical aspect of the songs that I liked but also the choreography that went alongside it too, it took me back to my secondary school days and reminded me of school musicals and plays. The whole nature of rehearsing dance scenes, singing and the actual nature of the performing arts which is also another message that the film is conveying which is incredibly bittersweet: these freaks are outcast by society and through performance manage to find a family and an area of acceptance. Now I’m not saying that everyone at my school who did performances were freaks but definitely being a part of the performing arts at school created an almost close-knit family group. It was just happiness. For the first time in a while, since being at school, I now have a really intense desire to perform again: act, sing, dance – and this film is entirely responsible. I’ve just got to find the time and motivation to put myself out there again and start doing something that I love again. I feel like this is the main big factor of why I appreciated this film so much was because it’s the film I think that has had the most resonance with me, maybe ever. However sidelining my creative dreams and going back to the film, the two songs that showed this impressive cohesion of song and dance for me were “The Other Side” and “From Now On”. The bar dance in “The Other Side” was meticulously thought out and incredibly funny; Hugh Jackman and Zac Efron mirroring each other whilst simultaneously, drinking, coming to a deal, singing and dancing – does it get much better than that? And “From Now On” starts off melancholy and thoughtful and transforming into a happy song of realisation and acceptance and again another dance in a bar which is entirely unforgettable.

I loved this film, it was wholesome and happy and I’ve obviously picked out the parts I loved. The one problem I had with the film though and it was only a minor point that I am perfectly happy overlooking was the stylistic choice of songs and the actual story of the film. It’s a film set in 19th Century America however all the songs sound just like modern pop songs that you wouldn’t be surprised if you heard it on the radio right now. Specifically the film introduces the best opera singer in Europe: Jenny Lind. However, the song she sings “Never Enough” is just a pop power ballad. Now I enjoyed the song and Rebecca Ferguson’s voice is absolutely stunning but it did kind of nark me a bit. However like I said previously, my intense fascination with the film made me forget the issues I did momentarily have with it. Apart from that though, I loved the songs and have come to overlook that minor problem I have with it because it does nothing to lessen the worth of the film itself as a whole. It definitely has a disney-esque vibe to it which equally could be why I came to love it as much as I did and I will definitely be watching it many more times!

Beth Morley


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