Symbolism In The Greatest Showman

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If you haven't heard already, Michael Gracey's The Greatest Showman is very loosely based on the life of P.T. Barnum, the legendary circus ringleader. Looking at the film's inspirational themes, and the vast liberties taken with the facts, it's clear making another biopic wasn't the intent. Instead, screenwriters Bill Condon and Jenny Bicks use the symbolism of Barnum to remind us to dream, show benevolence and focus on what matters. We watch Gracey's Barnum from his youth as a misfit (Ellis Rubin). He copes with the bleakness of his poverty-stricken life with imagination, charm and humor. He hopes to one day show up his elitist naysayers by wowing and entertaining the world. When of age (Hugh Jackman), he marries his childhood sweetheart (Skylar Dunn; later Michelle Williams), who happily leaves her lap of luxury to be with him. "Barnum's Circus" is…show more content…
Showman's weakness is its hurried and abbreviated tale-telling. For example, a passionate argument between P.T. and Jenny almost comes from nowhere. Prior to, we're only given droplets of context about their relationship. Additionally, the spat and its fallout are split-second. Sugarcoated racial dialogue and limited screen-time for Phillip and Anne result in missed opportunities for drama and powerful social commentary. Zendaya makes the most of her space, however, with a distinctive, captivating and suave performance (among other things, I was in love with her convincing southern drawl). The circus acts are the heart of the film's moral and they make everything "Come Alive," but sadly, they're mostly ornamental. We don't learn much about them and their key minutes are succinct. Being shunned by Barnum himself is the catalyst for "This is Me," but that's the extent of the scene. He's never held accountable for his demeaning actions. In point, they continue working for him, and help him get back on track at the end, which also comes at us
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