“The Greatest Showman” Wants You To Forget the World (Along with History) This Holiday Season

Posted on November 13, 2017

We harrumphed our way through the on-set pictures because the costumes were so ahistorical and then harrummphed our way through the first trailer for largely similar reasons, but because no one listens to us, they’re going to go ahead and release this film anyway, it would seem. And to celebrate that, they released a second, even more energetic trailer, full of happiness and good vibes:




Our harrumphs are lessening in intensity upon viewing it. But only slightly.

Screenshot, with thoughts to follow:

We’ll put aside our early complaints about how incorrect many of the costumes and hairstyles are for this period. It’s a stylistic choice to blend the modern with the historical – a la Moulin Rouge – and while we don’t consider it a particularly fresh approach, we respect what they’re trying to do with it.  After all, the entire story seems to be wrapped up in a very-2017 bow of celebrating diversity.

Now, if you know even a little bit about PT Barnum, you might understand why recasting him as an underdog who celebrated the differently abled and diverse (instead of the pure capitalist who exploited them shamelessly) is perhaps ever-so-slightly problematic. In fact, it’s being hammered so hard in these trailers that we half-suspect the inevitable flood of think-pieces along the lines of “Why The Greatest Showman gets P.T. Barnum so Wrong” and “Fifteen Ways The Greatest Showman is Problematic” is something the filmmakers are eagerly cultivating.

You won’t find us backing down on this point, although we’re willing to admit it may not be worth arguing about too strenuously. It’s been a rough, dark year for a lot of people and it’s possible an old-school bit of Hollywood escapism set to music and dance may be just what the public wants right now.

Still, the cynics in us can’t help but think the deliberately historically incorrect, feel-good take on this man is literally the only way you can position him as the protagonist in a 2017-told story. Even then, his history of racism and exploitation is going to be a really tough sell to some people.

If you really want a hot take, here’s ours: By the end of his life, Hugh Jackman will be recognized as one of the greatest Hollywood song-and-dance men of his generation. It will also be understood that he never quite found the right cinematic vehicle for his talents. No, not even Les Miz. COME AT US.

Hot Take # 2: For such a widely celebrated modern musical, La La Land produced no memorable music.


“The Greatest Showman” is a bold and original musical that celebrates the birth of show business and the sense of wonder we feel when dreams come to life. Inspired by the ambition and imagination of P.T. Barnum, “The Greatest Showman” tells the story of a visionary who rose from nothing to create a mesmerizing spectacle that became a worldwide sensation. “The Greatest Showman” is directed by exciting new filmmaker, Michael Gracey, with songs by Academy Award® winners Benj Pasek and Justin Paul (“La La Land”) and starring Academy Award nominee Hugh Jackman. Jackman is joined by Zac Efron, Academy Award nominee Michelle Williams, Rebecca Ferguson and Zendaya.”



[Stills: 20th Century Fox via Tom and Lorenzo – Video Credit: 20th Century Fox via YouTube.com]

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