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THE GREATEST SHOWMAN

 
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Film critics who have panned The Greatest Showman may want to sit down and hold a beer or two, while this movie does what no critic can do – inspire millions of people and make a tonne of money while doing it. After reading multiple reviews by the pseudo-scientists of Cinema, I had to roll my eyes at their hypocrisy in calling the film a ‘fake’. The Greatest Showman has a 53% Rotten Tomatoes score, while audiences have rated the movie 90%. Whose truth should we believe? 

The Greatest Showman is a dizzying and fantastic musical fairy-tale inspired by the life of P.T. Barnum – an entrepreneur and showman of the 19th Century who created Barnum's American Museum and became the founder of the circus. His visionary creativity inspired the concept of the circus and the heart of show business today.

Scored with soulful and joyfully addictive original music by Oscar® and Golden Globe-winning songwriting team Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, first-time feature Director, Michael Gracey, succeeds in translating the story of P.T. Barnum for contemporary times and interweaving the human challenges of inclusion and acceptance, which continue to divide humanity on many global stages, into a universal format, that leaves audiences singing and dancing. 

Image credit © 20th Century Fox 2017 | The Greatest Showman

After viewing the film and researching verified social media reactions from cinema goers - the criticisms to date are tone deaf to the reality of how audiences are feeling about the movie and the authenticity of the cast and key creatives. Too often, the politics and agendas behind film reviews critically affect the rise or fall of a film in the press – due to power plays that have nothing to do with the merit of the work itself.

As I left the cinema, I felt cheated by the reviews I read, which lead me to expect the worst. Instead – I left awestruck and sincerely on the edge of tears. Original film musicals are a rare breed and terrifically difficult to execute. The Greatest Showman is a big screen spectacular, that not only enlightens its audience - it captures the essence of the solutions the world is trying to create today, to bring humanity together.

Love is simple. That seems to be what confuses critics attempting to analyse it in this movie. No, it is not a documentary film about P.T. Barnum. It is a fictionalised fantasy inspired by his life that seeks only to uplift and unite us during some of the darkest times humanity never expected to experience.

The only disappointment I experienced in The Greatest Showman is the lack of critical praise for the talent of its new director, Michael Gracey and the film’s outstanding cast; Zendaya, Zac Efron, Michelle Williams, Rebecca Ferguson, and Keala Settle, lead by actor and co-producer, Hugh Jackman. With box office figures increasing by 77% just last weekend, I do not doubt that - just like P.T. Barnum - the producers will have the last well-deserved laugh and triumph.

Photo by Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images Entertainment / Getty Images
Photo by Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images Entertainment / Getty Images

With just one widely read review, seven and a half years of work (the time it took to bring The Greatest Showman to the screen) can dissolve into a puff of smoke before anyone has even laid eyes on a single frame of a film. Considering that the most common criticism of The Greatest Showman to-date has been that the movie is disingenuous, I could hold up a mirror to those critics and offer a wry smile. The greatest fraud in life is to judge what you cannot do, hope to achieve or experience. Perhaps, that message in the movie has stung critics personally.

In a new study released this year by the Center for Study of Women in Television and Film, women made up only 22% of those considered, ‘Top critics' by Rotten Tomatoes and wrote only 18% of the reviews. So, unless you are a middle-aged (probably Caucasian) male, you may want to consider trusting your own personal experience over movie reviewers from a bygone era and define your next cinema-going experience based on your own eyes and ears.

If you look beyond your nose, you may notice that this year the hallowed halls of power are crumbling, and with it, the status and influence of those who have moulded our culture and times from a place of entitlement and ego - rather than true service. To that end - I am not being paid or influenced in any way as I write this article in support of a film that I believe is genuinely worth seeing. 

Perhaps, what The Greatest Showman achieves in being muted by established critics, is a real-life reflection of the conflict in Western culture between the agenda of those in power and those who are daring to be different and moving our culture forward.

For those who called this movie ‘fake’, here’s what authenticity looks like:

The most we can hope to do without the authenticity of experience is step back in awe and catch the diamonds of wisdom along the way.

Keala Settle is that diamond. Her radiance teaches us that the beauty of the human spirit comes from the heart. She empowers people to just be themselves.


 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Amy Tam

founder, I AM FILM

Amy Tam is a multiple award-winning Creative Director, Artist and Executive. She has won 8 prestigious national and international awards and scholarships for projects she has created and lead, including; The Churchie National Emerging Art Prize, The Wallara Traveling Scholarship (graduate Fine Art prize - Melbourne University), The Chroma Australia Award (Gallery of NSW), the Brett Ratner Scholarship, for recognition in Directing.

By 21, she was the youngest contemporary artist in the world to have been sponsored to go to Antarctica in recognition of her unique creative vision when she received the Wallara scholarship in 2002; chosen amongst 25 of the top Fine Art graduates from the Victorian College of the Arts; the most exclusive Fine Arts institution in Australia.

By 27, she was awarded an 01-visa for extraordinary ability by the United States to live in New York on scholarship, where she developed her first feature film, Ruby, supported by a silent auction of donated artworks by leading artists. She has exhibited internationally within iconic locations such as; the Gallery of NSW, Australia, Time square, New York, and Art Basel, Hong Kong.

As an entrepreneur, Amy has independently owned and operated her own creative enterprises since she graduated from high school in 1998. Today, she is Founder and CEO of I AM FILM - selected as 1 out of 40 global startups by Cannes Lions for highlight within their startup village in 2016.

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