The Greatest Showman

Date Watched: – 30th December 2017

Director: – Michael Gracey

Genre: – Biography, Drama, Musical

Starring: – Hugh Jackman (P T Barnum), Michelle Williams (Charity Barnum), Zac Efron (Phillip Carlyle), Zendaya (Anne), Rebecca Ferguson (Jenny Lind), Austyn Johnson (Caroline Barnum) and Cameron Seely (Helen Barnum)

Review: – The last film of 2017 saw me take in The Greatest Showman a film based on Phineas Taylor Barnum better known as PT Barnum the “founder” of show business and the circus. PT is the son of a tailor and during a home visit to Mr Hallett PT makes Mr Hallett’s daughter (Charity) laugh causing her to spit out her tea prompting Mr Hallett to smack PT across the face. PT and Charity write to each other during their absences and the death of PT father whilst we see the young PT and Charity sing whilst their relationship develop and whilst still in song see PT (now played by Hugh) propose and marry Charity (Michelle). PT now working at a Trading Company is laid off as the their trading vessels have sunk in the South China Seas, Whilst on the roof with Charity and his 2 daughters PT gives Caroline (his daughter) a wishing lamp as a birthday present and as they wish he has an idea and goes to the bank to borrow $10,000 using the sunken ships as collateral. PT then opens a Museum dedicated to the weird and oddities though the Museum fails to attract any interests and whilst waiting to see the Bank Manager again he notices a dwarf and then has another idea which was caused by something his daughters said about see living/live things. PT then goes round the town looking for unique individuals and finds as well as Charles (the Dwarf) he finds Lettie (a bearded woman), Lord of Leeds (an obese man), Dog Boy (man covered completely in hair) and the Irish Giant (an 8 foot man). He then puts on a show and starts to draw large crowds and then start selling out but a critic cause the show a Circus and PT decides to change the name of the show to PT Barnum’s Circus and starts to make large profits which allows PT to move his family in to a luxury mansion and lets Caroline have ballet classes but she becomes dishearten as mocked for being PT’s daughter. PT looking to enhance the show approaches the playwright Phillip Carlye who agrees for 10% of the Profits. The troupe is then invited to meet Queen Victoria where PT meets Jenny Lind a well-known opera singer and invites her to perform at his show.

Jenny sings at PT Barnum’s Circus and is a huge hit and PT decides to finance a tour across America for her and goes with her leaving Phillip in charge of the Circus. During the tour Jenny develops a crush on PT but he rejects her advances and then Jenny says she’s going to quit the tour but PT tries to get her to complete the tour as it would cause him financial hardship if she quits, but after 1 more performance she kisses PT on stage and quits the tour. PT travels back to New York as the press took photos of the kiss to tell his wife about it before the press publish any stories about it but as he arrives back and hugs his wife and girls a fire engine goes by as the Circus is on fire after an altercation between protestors and the performers. Phillip runs in to save Anne who is missing but she’s bought out by her brother WD so PT runs in after Phillip and saves him and whilst Phillip recovers in hospital Anne kisses him.

PT sitting by the remains of the theatre is joined by the critic who shows him the paper with the headline of the kiss and Jenny quitting the tour and he rushes home to see Charity has packed her bags but not because of the kiss but because the bank is evicting them and she’s unhappy that PT didn’t ask her about the money to finance the tour more then she is about the kiss. PT goes to a bar and is found by the troupe who confront him and explain that he has given them a home and family and needs to stop feeling sorry for himself, PT then goes to Charity’s parents as that’s where she has gone but her dad refuses to say where she is but their daughters tell him and he goes to the beach that they spent some of their childhood.

PT apologises to her and Charity explains she doesn’t care about the fame she just wants the man she fell in love with and there embrace. PT then returns to the theatre with the troupe and Phillip now out of hospital also shows up when PT explains that he can’t loan any more money but Phillip offers to use his share of the profits to restart the circus for 50/50 split of the profits and PT agrees and they restart the show in a Tent as cheaper to run and maintain then a theatre and when they reopen PT hands over the Ringmaster role to Phillip and takes an elephant to meet up with Charity and his girls at Caroline’s Ballet show and PT says he has everything he wanted now.

The film has several musical numbers in as well and these tracks suited the film well with “The Greatest Show”, “Never Enough” and “This is Me” being the pick for me but this is a soundtrack I will be downloading as enjoyed all the songs and would like to listen to them without the movie. The only disappointment came after the film when I found out that it wasn’t Rebecca Ferguson that sang Never Enough but Loren Allred with her vocals being dubbed over Rebecca’s but this was a stunning track.

I compared this to La La Land which won several awards last year and I believe it is better than La La Land as it flows better and the musical performances tie in better to the film then they did in La La Land. This is a movie I wanted to continue as was enjoying it, the cast was perfect though I did have my doubts with Hugh Jackman but the relationship between the cast worked and you got the sense of unity. The film is up for 3 Golden Globes and I expect will have at least 2 Oscar Nominations as well which to me is fully deserved. It would’ve probably appeared in my Top 5 2017 films if I had not already done that post and was far better than I expected. I will certainly be watching this again and fully deserves a 9/10 rating.

Musicals Screen to Stage

I was watching Legally Blonde last night and it got me thinking as I’ve also see the stage Musical show as well whether we’re right to judge a stage Musical with the film version, personally I say no as with a Musical you’re limit with scenes and in some instances (like Legally Blonde) your changing it to a Musical rather than like Grease which is already a Musical (I think Grease went Stage to Screen to Stage), I think it’s like compare Classical music to Hip Hop. The Stage & Screen versions tend to keep to the same storyline/plot but with a stage you can’t chop and change scenes and you can’t have as many chatting scenes like the scene from Legally Blonde where we learnt the Bend & Snap, in the Movie you have a lot of chatting but in the Muscial they turned the Bend & Snap into a tune and song to keep the audience involved, that’s also another big difference in Film you don’t have an audience to participate you just have cameras and a director and plenty of takes and retakes and changing of Camera position, the stage is live and you have to carry on whatever, you can also get slight ad-libs (Michael Ball & Les Dennis in Hairspray) and mishaps (Debbie Gibson in Grease) which means the same show is never always the same. 

There are perhaps a few movies that have been made into musicals that don’t work and a few musicals that having been made into film that you don’t bring the same connection (for me Chicago is better on stage then screen as feel you’re disconnected to the music). I expect there are a lot of films that could become musicals (not talking films like Marvel’s, Star Wars etc.) but never will though I expect most Musicals have been turned into films whether a hit or not (there are a few I don’t know if have been done though). 

I started thinking maybe it depends on what you saw first but I saw Billy Elliott and Hairspray on stage before seeing the film and like both as equal as still see them as different format, I thought maybe I can differentiate between the two, maybe I can but I have started comparing books to films and vice-versa so not sure about that now but that’s a different blog. 

Anyway if you’ve never seen a Musical you should, it’s a very enjoyable evening and for most of them you will be tapping your feet.