The Greatest Showman

We all watch movies, don’t we? Movies are a great platform to entertain as well as to provide information on various concepts of life. It is considered as one of the best ways of communication. One of the best Hollywood movies of all times is The Greatest Showman, which beautifully portrays the basic challenges and struggles faced by all artists, especially in a world which is occupied by judgmental people.

The Greatest Showman, a 2007 American musical film directed by Michael Gracey, is a film inspired by the story of P. T. Barnum’s creation of the Barnum & Bailey Circus. Hugh Jackman plays the role of Mr. Barnum. This movie renders the audience curious as it is based on real events and is inspired by the life story of a real artist. Curiosity ignites the thirst in the audience to find out more about the real showman, P.T. Barnum.

P.T. Barnum, popularly known as Phineas Taylor Barnum was extremely famous for his travelling circus, depicted in the movie. Before getting into show business, he earned his living by doing alternative ventures in Connecticut politics, newspaper, housing and literature. Barnum’s first show business was called the Barnum American Museum, which was strangely famous for its weird attractions like the Feejee Mermaid and General Tom Thumb. However, sadly, this museum was burnt in 1868. In 1871, the idea of the travelling circus popped up in his mind.

Mr. Barnum surely had a controversial past which is rather impossible to ignore. One instance from his past is of how he kickstarted his show business by purchasing an elderly woman, to be more specific, a slave, who was passed off as the 160-year-old nurse of George Washington and worked until her death. In addition to the horrific treatment of the elderly lady, he made some unethical decisions such as exhibiting the bearded lady when she was only an infant and travelling to the U.S and making  legislations in Connecticut to ban forms of contraception.

At the tender age of 19, Barnum got hitched to 21-year-old Charity Hallett in 1829. They were married for almost 44 years and had four beautiful girls. People used to say that Barnum recalled his wedding days and stated that he became the husband of one of the best women in the world. Barnum, actively involved in business and money making, left child rearing and other responsibilities of the house on the shoulders of his wife, who was herself going through hard times as she was suffering from a chronic illness. She even had to cope with the pain of losing her fourth daughter.

Meanwhile, Jenny Lind, the gorgeous nightingale, become extremely popular and earned a huge fan base as a European opera singer. She was lovingly called the “Swedish Nightingale” by her fans. People magazine notes  that although she planned to leave behind the show business at a very young age, “Barnum lured her to join his circus promising an exuberant of amount of compensation: $1,000 per night for up to 150 nights of performances, all expenses included and assistants”, for which Barnum ended up selling most of all that he owned. The New York Tribune described her inaugural American event– “Jenny Lind’s first concert is over; and all doubts are at an end. She is the greatest singer we have ever heard.” Although Lind and Barnum made a huge amount of money together, their relationship was professional rather than romantic. It is said that Lind was not really fascinated by Barnum’s way of life.

Such real-life experiences which get translated into movies appear extremely emotional as well as motivating because they bring people in contact with the struggles of life that artists need to go through. Themes like the general perception of people, the concept of family acting as a strong pillar during tough times, the love and appreciation received by these talented people through the shows, the hardships faced by these artists to put up a show, etc. are well conveyed through movies like these. There is so much to learn and observe from P.T. Barnum’s life, especially because he is a man with a million dreams and a whole lot of hardships to tackle:

Every night I lie in bed
The brightest colors fill my head
A million dreams are keeping me awake
I think of what the world could be
A vision of the one I see
A million dreams is all it’s gonna take
A million dreams for the world we’re gonna make”

No matter what kind of challenges you face in life, always live towards fulfilling your million dreams, whatever it takes to achieve them.

Picture Courtesy- Digital Arts


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