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The Greatest Showman: A (Mostly) True Story of the Greatest Showman Who Ever Lived

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"The Greatest Showman’s broadway nature, catchy music, and big-name Hollywood characters captivated audiences across the nation."

Sofi Serio, Managing Editor

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There is something truly unique about going to the movies and seeing a musical on the big screen. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all about the tearjearkers, the movies that make you go home and think about what you saw long after it played across the screen. But there’s something about a musical, whether it be the catchy music, or just the positivity it leaves you with, that just gets me every time.

The Greatest Showman, starring Hugh Jackman, Zac Efron and Zendaya, with music from the composers who brought us La La Land, takes the cake as one of the best musical-movies produced in a long time.

Despite The Greatest Showman being hailed by some as the most successful movie in the theater since the Titanic in terms of ticket sales, the show was slow to capture audience’s attention. When it opened on December 20th, it hit record lows for a movie so highly anticipated in the world of Hollywood. What it suffered that weekend, however, was quickly regained in a record number of sales the following weeks that movie specialists can only attribute to being the power of the word of mouth.

In five weekends, the family-friendly feature made 113 million dollars, surpassing other big features like Jumanji and the latest installment of Star Wars.

This upbeat, family friendly movie follows the ups and downs of the early life of PT Barnum, a struggling family man trying to bring to light his dreams of showcasing the curious and often castigated members of society.

The plot of the movie may be lacking in depth and the characters underdeveloped, but the beautiful soundtrack makes up for it all. Songs include Golden Globe Best Original Song winner “This is Me” as well as others worth checking out, including “A Million Dreams” and “From Now On”. The visual appeal of the movie was also noteworthy, with the singing, dancing and camera angling making for an eye-popping show that leaves the viewer grinning from ear to ear.

While the movie does wonders for lifting spirits, one sharp critique of the movie has been the historical accuracy of the plot. While in the movie P.T. Barnum is portrayed as a hopeful man from meager beginnings simply trying to show the world the beauty behind those society deems as “freaks”, P.T. Barnum in real life was solely focused on doing whatever he could to make a buck, which often included conning his audience members by transforming normal people into “freaks” and taking advantage of minority groups such as blacks and the disabled.

A phrase uttered by Barnum quite frequently was “The bigger the humbug, the better people will like it.” He hints here at the idea that the bigger the trick, the better the audience would like it.

Though he was one of the greatest conmen to ever live, he was also one of the greatest showmen to ever live, and it is important to not forget how hard he worked for what he got.

Another phrase uttered by Barnum that fits the movie quite well, displayed at the end of the movie, is, “Whatever you do, do it with all your might.”

This is the way the movie remembers Barnum, and is also the way many of The Greatest Showman’s fans remember him as well.

Junior Arianna Carlson offers why she’s such a fan of the movie, even seeing it 4 times in the theater.

She states that The Greatest Showman, for her, was, “an inspiring and empowering movie about change, challenging typical views, and putting the underdog in the spotlight and helping them show who they are to the world. [The movie] shows how those who are initially seen as less than can become the most popular people in the town and even the nation.”

In the minds of many, The Greatest Showman is a mixed bag. Looking at it from a purely historical perspective, the movie is a downright disappointment. However, from a movie standpoint, this movie is a true cinematic masterpiece. In a world of conflict, uncertainty and frustration, The Greatest Showman is just what we all need in order to remind ourselves of the power of a good show.

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The Greatest Showman: A (Mostly) True Story of the Greatest Showman Who Ever Lived