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The Greatest Showman - Film Review

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by Helen Belli (subscribe)
I am now living in Kariong on the Central Coast
Published December 31st 2017
A dreamer, a risk taker gives the world the circus

'No one ever made a difference by being like everyone else'.

There is only one way to make a film about the greatest showman who created 'The greatest show on earth'. To produce a film about the life of P.T. Barnum it must be entertaining with dancing and singing. Who better than Mr. Entertainment himself, Hugh Jackman to take the leading role. This isn't a true story of the man, but don't miss the point of the movie. It is an extravaganza, a musical that entertains which was the hallmark of the man, the man who invented the three-ring circus and coined the phrase 'sideshow ally'.

In an age of Houdini and fraudulent deceptions enacted by 'spiritualist mediums', the pubic were ready for Barnum's travelling three-ring circus which consisted of freaks, animals and trapeze artists for their entrainment. The phrase 'if you can't hide it, make a feature of it' could well have be attributed to this master entertainer.

P.T. Barnum was a successful businessman, author, philanthropist, politician and a campaigner for the abolition of slavery, but his enduring title is of the father of the 'greatest show on earth'. He was the quintessential entrepreneur, risk-taking was in his D.N.A.

The film opens with a toe-tapping number featuring Hugh Jackman and quickly outlines his early childhood and introduces his future wife [Michelle Williams], the daughter of a wealthy businessman, is in contrast to his own humble beginnings. It isn't long before it is apparent that this is a man who can get what he wants with natural charm, charisma and energy. He buys an existing museum and when the people don't come, he does what he always does - he turns a flop into a triumph. Instead of stuffed animals, he buys live ones and the circus grows and grows, it blossom into the greatest circus that lasts for 100 years. He takes his troop to Europe, is invited to meet Queen Victoria and arrives back to America with the Swedish Nightingale, Jenny Lind [Rebecca Ferguson]. Barnum branches out of his circus comfort zone and adds 'class' to his entertainment portfolio, or is he in love with Miss Lind, as suggested in the film. Jenny Lind would be spinning in her grave if she could hear Rebecca Ferguson belt out a modern song, dressed to the nines as is the garb of opera singers today.

The song and dance numbers will lift the spirits and want you to not only tap your toes, but get up and dance with energy and a dose of hope.

He was ruthlessly criticised and called the master of fake by journalist Gordon Bennett [Paul Sparks] 'Doesn't it bother you that everything your selling is a fake?' When he was called a humbug, he said he liked the title and had it written on his hat. When he lost his circus in a fire it was the 'freaks' he had well paid that enabled him to rebuild his empire.

I saw this movie at Avoca Beach Picture Theatre. It is part of their 'Summer Moments' programme. The theatre was established in 1948, so they are celebrating 70 years of entertaining. Movies are only part of their modern programme, they have festivals, theme nights and live performances. To find out upcoming events, go to

This movie should lift your spirits - you will leave the cinema dancing and singing and if you are a circus lover, like yours truly, you will go down to the waterfront in Gosford and see the real thing. See you at the circus.
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I also went to Avoca Theatre to see this movie on both accounts the movie & the theatre are great.
by jeane (score: 0|2) 414 days ago
by Kat May on 03/01/2018
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