The Greatest Showman, based on a story by Jenny Bicks
This film is effervescent, flamboyant, entertaining, ebullient, and enthusiastic even if most critics dismissed it.
One of the extraordinary aspects about the Greatest Showman is the fact that show business was only one aspect of his tremendous life that is also remembered for a Prosperity Classic he has written, the quintessential The Art of Money Making.
Reading about this classic, one can get some different ideas about events depicted in the film, for instance the arrangement with the greatest opera singer of the day, Swedish star Jenny Lind an incredible $ 1,000 per night, which might be converted in today’s currency to the tune of one million dollars…
He made a large profit on that tour, according to other sources and not the film, which has included tension and some romance, if one sided, and an outraged singer abandoning the arrangement, seemingly before the expenses would be covered.
Even for those who are not fans of Hugh Jackman, like this cinephile, his performance is more than remarkable, the Australian is effusive, driven, magnificent, very appropriate in the role of The Greatest Showman.
In a few ways, this musical reminds one of Moulin Rouge and the latest adaptation of The Great Gatsby, only The Showman is much better, even if flamboyant, it does not have the extravagance, phantasmagoria of the other productions that went way over the top in their post modernism.
Phineas Taylor Barnum is one of the almost perfect models, for he has his flaws, who was an orphan, poor child who proved he has the elements of Bravery: Courage, Persistence, Vitality and Integrity, even if he would be accused of fakery, because he did exaggerate the weight of the “heaviest man on earth” and other aspects of his show that brought under the same tent so many different men and women.
There were other times, near the middle of the nineteenth century, and many primitives attacked members of his cast and called them freaks, in a manner Barnum might be one of the first to give attention to the different humans, the woman with the beard, the dwarf the extremely obese, dog boy and so many others.
On the other hand, once he becomes rich and accepted in high society, there is a repulsive gesture when the team tries to enter the big hall of ceremonies, where the aristocratic and the rich drank champagne, only to be turned away by Barnum.
Phineas Barnum falls in love with Charity played by Michelle Williams, the superb actress who made the news recently on account of the $ 80 per day she was offered for reshooting some scenes in a film for which the same job paid Mark Wahlberg one and a half million dollars, which he has donated for the Time’s Up foundation.
Charity was born in a rich, prominent family and her father is arrogant and despises the then poor P.T. Barnum, who is bent on demonstrating his father in law that he can and will be somebody that, later, throws out the rude parent from the ceremony celebrating his achievement, on the night of the first Lind performance.
Barnum demonstrates he also has all the ingredients identified by psychologist as essential for Wisdom: Creativity, Open- mindedness, Perspective, Curiosity and Love of Learning, as he convinces Philip Carlyle to become his partner and then the most famous singer in Europe to accept 20% of the take at the gate and sing for his outfit.
Some quotes from his still magnificent work, The Art of Money, point out how visionary and ahead of his time Barnum was, anticipating the discoveries of Positive Psychology that reveal the importance of finding Your Calling…
By the way, the you to find the job that is best for you, which will ensure nearly lifelong satisfaction is to identify the activities that you enjoy, those you are good at and the ones which have meaning for you and then concentrate on where they intersect, because the endeavors that you like, are good at and have meaning for you are the ones that would offer the chance to engage in the dream profession.
“We are all, no doubt, born for a wise purpose. There is as much diversity in our brains as in our countenances. Some are born natural mechanics, while some have great aversion to machinery… Unless a man enters upon the vocation intended for him by nature, and best suited to his peculiar genius, he cannot succeed.”
There are personal issues in this film that are connected, but not always, with the financial challenges of losing collateral when there was one, for initially, the clever Barnum had managed to convince a baker to provide a loan to start his Show, offering as collateral papers of property which was located in the South China Sea…deep in the South China Sea, as the showman explained to his wife.
In the film, one is unsure about the real story, given the huge financial incentive offered, the Swedish opera singer becomes enamored or at least very attracted to Barnum, who rejects her proposition, only to be then framed, with photographs of him kissing the artist on all the front pages of newspapers.
Apart from this and the consequent clash with his wife, the Barnum’s American Museum burns to the ground twice- and not just on the big screen- therefore giving the opportunity to this hero and role model to prove if and how he can cope with adversity and trauma multiple times during his life, after the harsh, destitute childhood, he achieves fame and some fortune, only to see it all in jeopardy a few times.
The film is not just entreating, it is also a lesson on achievement, hard work, the skills, values and talent needed to reach prosperity, which is not just wealth, but it comprises a set of principles epitomized by the Greatest Showman
You can get PT Barnum’s classic here: