The Greatest Showman portrays a despicable person in a positive light.

two stars
Coming out of The Greatest Showman I had mixed feelings.
I definitely had fun watching it but I felt like something was missing and a fact I would later learn, about the history the movie is based on, ruined the movie for me.
Directed by Michael Gracy, The Greatest Showman stars Hugh Jackman, as P.T Barnum, a man who sets out to create a circus by hiring very unique and different people to attract an audience.
The film is a musical and all of its songs are really good.
The musical numbers are definitely the most enjoyable parts of the movie and are well sung and choreographed.
Another really good thing about the movie is the acting.
Everyone brings their all for this movie, including Jackman and there was not one performance or voice that did not work.
However, even though this made the film enjoyable, The Greatest Showman does suffer from some very misplaced direction.
First of all, the movie is focused mostly on Barnum and Zac Efron’s character, Phillip Carlyle, instead of the people who are used as attractions.
The characters of Lettie Lutz (Keala Settle), Charles Stratton (Sam Humphrey) and others were all very interesting but did not get much focus.

lettie
Keala Settle as Lettie Lutz is one of the most interesting characters in The Greatest Showman but does not get much depth.

One of the main themes of the movie is accepting and being proud of yourself and this applies to these characters.
However the story is more focused on Barnum and Carlyle, the “normal” people, who are less interesting than Lutz and Stratton.
It felt like the movie should have been more focused on them rather than Barnum and would have had a more interesting story if it did.
However, even with this problem the movie was still good… or at least it was until I did some research.
You see, when watching this movie, I became suspicious when watching how Barnum was developed as a character and how much of it was true.
In the film, it is established that one of the reasons he created his circus was to try and bring a voice to different people in order to promote equality.
This makes Barnum look like a good person, when in reality the real Barnum was anything but.
Barnum started his career in show business by buying an 80-year-old paralyzed slave named Joice Heth and passing her off as the 160-year-old nurse of president George Washington.
After Heth died, Barnum degraded her further by having a live autopsy on her body for people to see.

Joice Heth
A poster that advertises Joice Heth to the public.

This is only one of the many bad things Barnum did.
Barnum was someone who took part in slavery and treated a fellow human being terribly and yet the movie portrays him as a likeable person.
I find it weird that a scandal has not broke out about this yet and, for once, its a scandal I would actually get behind.
Portraying someone like Barnum as a good person, when he was a slave owner, is just unacceptable.
This fact, ruins the movie for me.
I will not be able to look at it the same way knowing it is portraying a despicable person in a positive light.
The Greatest Showman may be an enjoyable film but when you look at how it sweeps dirty facts under the rug, it ruins the whole thing.

 

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