This is the story of how circus began, told by the man who “invented” it. It’s a story that tells of courage, honour and respect, and above all humanity.
The movie starts with a small tailor’s son, dreaming of a life away from his hole-infested boots and of greater things. Unfortunately for him, he was not born into wealth, fame or fortune, and without such things in turn-of-the-last-century society, changing your life can be particularly difficult. He also longs to be with the daughter of a rich family, for whom his father works for, but knows that her father would never allow it. For our main protagonist, he finds the serving on the railways helps build his fortune, and he returns many years later to profess his love for Charity (the now grown-up daughter), and wed her, still much against her father’s wishes.
The turning point of the movie comes when P.T. Burnam is made redundant, and with a family to support and a yearning to be more than he started out, knows he’s got to do something. So, as crazy as it is, he opens a museum for “the unique and obscure”, only to find people aren’t really that interested. It’s around this point, he meets his first “unique” performer and with an idea from his daughter, begins enrolling more and more performers into his show.
Bear in mind, that this is a musical, and as such there is A LOT of impromptu singing. I’m not one for “all of that”, but hand-on-heart, I was astonished with how well Hugh Jackman, and the other members of the cast could sing. Yes, Zac Efron has a background in singing (High School Musical 1-3), as does Keala Settle, but that shouldn’t detract in how well the other individual performances were.
The latter half of the movie really focuses on one thing – family. The idea that a bunch of strangers, drawn into something together can be as much a family as your own flesh and blood; and it’s this ideal that gives you that warm fuzzy feeling inside right up until the credits begin to roll. Now, I wouldn’t say many films affect me emotionally – certainly not those with Zac Efron singing – but in this case, I consider myself emotionally affected.
By watching this film, you learn to understand that it really doesn’t matter who you are, or where you’ve come from, we all have the opportunity to lead our life the way we want to. The best thing about this film is that, although the underlying context is fairly strong – humanity, fame, family, society, etc. – it’s shown in such a way that you’re never overwhelmed, or indeed underwhelmed. Everything about this film is just right.
who should watch it?
I would advocate that everyone should watch this film, regardless if you’re not into musicals (like me)! Do it! Do it! Do it!