Aug 31, 2020
On the podcast this week, Steven and Sean are belting out some majestic tunes as we kick off an entire month of movie musicals! Oh, what a beautiful day. We’re starting things off with the Michael Gracey film that’s all about chasing your dreams, The Greatest Showman.
You may know Mr. Phineas Taylor Barnum from the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus from when just about all of us were kids, but did you know the story about how he became the man we know him as today? Well, according to this film, he went through quite the rollercoaster ride to become a venerated performing star.
Okay, but spoiler warning, this one is a dramatization of events that happened over a hundred years ago, so you’ll have to forgive it for taking some artistic liberties with the story it tells. That’s just how show biz goes. P.T. Barnum knew it and now you know it. Does that mean this film isn’t a rousing celebration of artistic drive, amazing showmanship, and the similarities and differences in us all? Heck no! It’s all of those things and more.
Plus, you’d be hard-pressed to find a more engaging film with such catchy songs. Seriously, we still can’t get them out of our heads. We were also fascinated by the personal arcs all the characters went through in this film. It wasn’t just Barnum that became someone greater than he was. We see the wonderful people in his show learn their true worth. We see his business partner realize that love is more important than social prejudices. We see separate people become a family of like-minded, loving performers.
Steven was a huge fan of the sound design that was featured in the film. It was very competently made, but when it’s a musical we’re talking about, the sound design tends to play second fiddle to the songs. They were stellar. They felt modern, but not in a way that was out of place or inappropriate for the movie. It all just sounded so great.
Part of what makes this movie special is the combination of wonderful music and eye-catching visuals, which Sean was a big fan of. It’s amazing to us that a first time director could craft such a confident, great looking film. From moment one, it displays bold, soaring camera work and glossy lighting. This is a film that not only sounds amazing, but also looks amazing.
Stay tuned for next month’s musical! It’s going to be an older one and just as fun.
(Recorded on June 25, 2020)
Links to Stuff We Mentioned:
The real history of Phineas T. Barnum is as we suspected—he was a raging asshole that did truly awful things. It’s worth knowing about who this man was in real life, but prepare yourself for disappointment.
When we say that everyone should watch Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, we mean that everyone should watch the show. Yes, you too. It’s the best.
Learn how to make your own version of the wishing machine that Barnum made for his family!