Sniffed at by critics but adored by the public, The Greatest Showman is a musical, inspired by the life of P. T. Barnum. Starring Hugh Jackman, Zac Efron, and Zendaya, it’s a frenzy of color, song, dance, and wonder. You leave the cinema with the buzz of joy and happiness, humming the melody to songs you’ve only just heard. The next morning, you’ll start playing the soundtrack and as soon as it finishes, you’ll put it on again.
There’s plenty of life lessons in the film too. Purpose, meaning, success, family, diversity, and unity are the beams that both the songs and dialogue hang on. Here are a couple of the key ideas that the film provoked for me:
Follow Your Dreams
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”
From his early days to the pinnacle of his journey, P. T. Barnum is a dreamer. His deep desire to make something more of his life, both for himself and for the woman he loves, drives him constantly. Part of the success of The Greatest Showman is that it speaks to the part of each of us that has a desire for meaning and destiny.
Remember What Matters Most
All the stars we steal from the night sky
Never be enough
Towers of gold are still too little
These hands could hold the world
but it’ll never be enough
The writers of the “Never Enough” definitely owe some royalty money to King Solomon for this one. Ecclesiastes 2:9-11 says:
‘So I became great and surpassed all who were before me in Jerusalem.
In pursuit of his dreams, Barnum forgets what matters most and his original motivation for those dreams. The film poses the important question: what actually is
It’s OK to Be Different
For we are glorious
When the sharpest words wanna cut me down
I’m gonna send a flood, gonna drown them out
I am brave, I am bruised
I am who I’m meant to be, this is me!
P.T. Barnum’s troupe is made up of ‘freaks’ and misfits; those whom society has rejected. The anthemic “This Is Me” is their declaration of defiance, the refusal to accept dismissal and instead to celebrate who they are. This song strikes a chord with anyone who has ever felt like they are not
Never Underestimate the Power of Film
OK, so this one wasn’t a part of the film, but more a reflection on the experience as a whole. I love going to the cinema, but often I can find my mind wandering from the film to other things.
The whole 105 minutes of The Greatest Showman, I was caught up by what was happening on screen. I didn’t think about politics, money, what I had to cook for dinner, the past, the present, or the future. None of it. I simply watched and enjoyed, drinking deeply from the immersive experience. Was it the best script in the world? Probably not. Was it the most original plot? Nope. But, did it leave me with a palpable sense of joy? Absolutely. For whatever reason, it just made me really happy.
We should never underestimate the power of art, song, film, or words to touch us like that – it’s truly a gift from God.