Previously seen alongside Tom Holland in “Spiderman Homecoming” and in the music video for Bruno Mars’ “Versace on the Floor,” the 21-year old actress is fast becoming a name you won’t soon forget. As trapeze artist Anne in “The Greatest Showman,” Zendaya gets to showcase her flexibility both physically and emotionally. And yes, we won’t stop talking about how show-stopping the “Rewrite the Stars” sequence is.
A lesson in condensing time
This one might seem a bit film school-y, but there is a gem of a lesson at the beginning of “The Greatest Showman” where the filmmakers condensed P.T. Barnum’s childhood up to the pregnancy of his wife, Charity (Michelle Williams) into a few minutes, using match cuts. In a straight-up historical epic, this might take about half an hour at least, but the filmmakers know that what they are making is not that kind of film. Think the first 10 minutes of Pixar’s “Up,” but more upbeat.
A chance to compare the movie’s claims to historical basis
For one, most reviews say that Barnum’s romantic affair with opera singer Jenny Lind (Rebecca Ferguson) didn’t occur in real life. Then there’s Barnum’s racist and exploitative history. We believe that films should always open a window for discussion, and “The Greatest Showman” is one good example to begin with.
In the movie, a critic (Paul Sparks) keeps on coming to Barnum’s shows and writes one scathing review after another in the newspaper. While Barnum used the negative reviews as a way to drive more traffic to his shows, there is an undertone about constructive criticism that is easy to miss. Any work of art (or entertainment, if you will) released to the public is subject to criticism, and more often than not, it helps to get an outsider’s perspective. Never-ending praises are well and good, but without a dash of constructive criticism, the artist or the creator is deprived of an opportunity for growth.
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