The Greatest Showman, (Starring Hugh Jackman, Michelle Williams, and Zac Efron) a spectacular film full of color, music, and dancing carries a message of courage…courage to be your true self.
The story follows P.T. Barnum in the 1800’s as he creates and forms what we now know as the Circus. Born to the son of a tailor, Barnum comes from humble beginnings but knows that someday he will achieve greatness. Yet, when this greatness becomes a realization, he is still unsatisfied. He cannot shake the feeling that he will never be enough because of where he comes from.
In the beginning days of the circus, circus performers were usually what society would call abnormal or even abhorrent simply because they were different. Yet, Barnum creates a home and a safe place for his circus performers. A place where each person feels accepted, and even celebrated for who they are.
The disapproval of society is portrayed throughout the film and a dichotomy of gazes is represented: one gaze representing how others see you, and the other representing how you see yourself. This struggle to break free from the bonds of others’ labels is a strong theme and affects each character. But, the most magical part of this story is that in the end each performer, and Barnum himself, come to realize that the disapproval of others doesn’t matter, as each finds the freedom to love his/her true self.
In the film there is a song, This Is Me, which showcases the circus performers unashamedly expressing themselves and owning who they are, in all their differences and uniqueness. It shows these performers walking through fancy halls of upper class women and men who gaze disapprovingly, they walk through the streets proclaiming “This is me” to the mob of angry onlookers who believe they should not be allowed to show their faces. All the while banding together and raising each other up to find the courage and bravery needed to face those around them.
Throughout the film, as each person finds their voice, there is another person by their side to validate who they are and to raise them higher. And this is the beauty of life. Being given the opportunity to come alongside another human being and encourage their growth and their truth. To validate who they are, to listen to and be aware of their struggles and the walls they have had to climb.
In life there are many times we can either follow what those around us want us to be, look like, and act like, or we can choose to discover our true selves. It is not easy to dismiss disapproval or judgement from others, especially from those you love and care for. Yet, when we have the courage to discover who we truly are, break free from our labels and love ourselves, we give those around us the freedom to the same in their lives.
The Greatest Showman is not only entertaining with big musical numbers and A-list performers, it is a story of the magic that happens when we choose to see ourselves as worthy.
As you watch this film, we encourage you to be mindful. Let yourself be inspired, let the lyrics of the songs speak to your own story, and allow yourself to leave this experience with more grace for yourself and others.
The Greatest Showman: A story of self-worth, equality and breaking boundaries.