We all know that I love a good movie musical. (And yet, I still haven’t seen La La Land.....)
And because I have that BA in History, I actually looked up P.T. Barnum. And all I can say is wow.. the movie is very, very loosely based on the real person. But then, how many musicals based on real people got everything accurate?
P.T. Barnum was a racist who built an empire on lying, cheating and exploiting people. This is pretty clear by any account of his life.
I think my best guess is that this movie is more fan fiction than a biography. The movie takes four or five plot points from the guy’s life and synthasizes them into a rather pleasant and coherent plot.
The movies changes this story of a man who built a fortune on the backs of the others into a story of a many that teams up with society’s rejects to built a family. The soundtrack even has two songs that might become the anthem of the weird and different (This Is Me, and From Now On). This movie shows the “circus freaks” as people who possess talent that the circus uses to entertain (instead of simply putting them on display).
At times, songs transcend the show that they are in to become anthems in their own right. This song is simply amazing. And I like it here... no sets or costumes...
(I've shared this all over the place. The energy in that room was electric.)
In my opinion, the movie shines in the music and choreography category. I think the choreography is the tightest and move amazing that I’ve seen in ages.
In this age of taking a movie and turning it into a musical, I don’t think this can happen in this case. The movie is so reliant on CG fades and fake animals to tell it’s story that anything else would come off as weird.
In that way, it’s almost appropriate. The movie musical about the master of deception had almost nothing to do with his life, involved a lot of computer graphics and slicks songs and choreography.
It also takes a story of oppression and turns it into an uplifting story about family.
And in sprite of everything, I loved it!