I hope I get my writing mojo back soon. It always seems to fade a little in the winter, and I don’t try and force it. I had to write something about a film I didn’t expect to like so much. I don’t even care if it’s not cool or that the critics are being mean about it. I have been moved and when I am moved to that extent where I’m seeing a film four or five times and telling everyone I meet about it, I have to express how I feel about it. Now, I could attempt to write a poem or a song about my obsession (I’m pretty inspired to) but for the moment I’ll express my extreme feelings the best way I know how, with words.
It’s not like I’m exactly what you would call a film buff. But I confess I have subscribed to Empire magazine and once owned a dictionary of films so I’d like to think I know a bit. My all-time favourite films are Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Moulin Rouge, La La Land and now, unexpectedly, The Greatest Showman. I enjoy what are classed as much ‘cooler’ films, but the first three I own and never get tired of watching, because each time I watch them I am moved. They never fail to make me feel something, and in a world where we are conditioned to squash down our emotions to survive that is extremely important.
|The ones I will never get bored of…|
I am a Francophile and obsessed with Paris and early 20th century French art, so Moulin Rouge was always going to push my buttons. I still can’t listen to El Tango De Roxanne without getting full body shivers. I was pulled in by the costumes, the amazing sets and the soundtrack. I loved Ewan McGregor in it so much! I don’t think I saw Breakfast at Tiffany’s until about 2005 and I just fell in love with everything about it. Audrey Hepburn is just mesmerising in it, the chemistry with George Peppard is perfect and the ending breaks me every time (not even Mickey Rooney’s odd interpretation of a Japanese man can take the shine off it). I even look forward to sobbing uncontrollably at the final scene even though I know every detail. Fast forward many years to La La Land. Last year I remember sitting in the cinema and just being enthralled. I couldn’t watch it again for a year because the ending seriously traumatised me. The soundtrack definitely played a huge part in my love for it. By now you’ve probably realised that I’m a soppy, incurable romantic.
A few weeks ago I sat in the cinema again (with three other people on a weekday evening) after hearing good things about The Greatest Showman. I hadn’t really read a lot about it and didn’t even realise that the songwriters who wrote the soundtrack (Oscar winning Pasek and Paul) won the Oscar last year for La La Land. That might have prepared me for the levels of emotion I felt over the course of that two and a half hour period. Something was stirred in me from the first beat – Hugh Jackman as P.T Barnum in silhouette wearing his top hat filled the screen, then a battle cry followed by a stomping feet. Benj Pasek and Justin Paul just seem to be able to tap into how we feel at our core as humans and pull out exactly what is needed to write lyrics that just smack you right in the heart. I have never listened to a soundtrack as much as this, and I know I’m not alone in that (it’s currently holding the No.1 spot in album charts around the world). I am just obsessed with ‘Come Alive’, probably even more than the Oscar- nominated anthem ‘This Is Me’ performed by new superstar Keala Settle. Damn, I was even mesmerised by Zac Efron and Hugh Jackman dancing in a bar to ‘The Other Side.’
Don’t get me wrong, I know The Greatest Showman is not perfect. It’s a bit corny in places and it would have been better if some of the back stories of the unusual humans of the circus had been fleshed out a bit more. The CGI circus animals look a bit fake but they said they’d rather do that than use real animals, which I respect. Yes, it’s schmaltzy and sugary-sweet, but as someone who has struggled with my mental health and felt like an outsider the themes of inclusion and tolerance really struck a chord with me. But if you’re a bit tired of going through life not really feeling connected, then this will make you feel interesting new sensations in your body and a new-found appreciation for life. The miserable critic in the film eventually calls the circus “a celebration of humanity.” He’s not wrong. The circus scenes are choreographed brilliantly and first time director Michael Gracey uses his visual effects experience to great effect – some of the shots are stunning.
I really didn’t expect to be writing about how much I’ve been affected by this film, but I’m going to see it again this week for the third time and I’ve booked a ticket for a Sing-a-Long performance, for God’s sake! What the hell is happening to me? I’m waiting everyday for the news that the musical WILL happen, and the cast will be involved in the stage production. Something odd is going on, but with the rest of the world being swept along with Showman mania, I know that I’m not alone in my new obsession. The Youtube videos above make me cry every time I watch them.
Don’t listen to the miserable critics, go and see it and see what new and interesting emotions you feel. Then let me know how many times you go along.