The Greatest Showman on Earth (2017) - A Speculative Post
There has been talk about a film in the makings called The Greatest Showman on Earth. It focuses on the life of P.T. Barnum. My interest in this film was first peaked when I heard about the possible casting of Zendaya as Zac Efron’s girlfriend within the film. I began doing research on P.T. Barnum and was pulled into his interesting life and circus attractions. Once I began reading up on his circus attractions I began to think about the possibilities for this film to include diverse talent. One of the features of a great circus is diversity after all.
Barum did not have a life or circus that only included White Americans so the last thing this film should do is portray it as such. Here are just a few of the attractions from his museum and circus that included people of color throughout the 1800’s:
William Henry Johnson aka Zip the Pinhead (1842-1926)
Prince Randian aka The Snake Man/The Human Caterpillar (1874 – 1934)
Chang and Eng Bunker aka The Siamese Twins (1811-1874)
Joice Heth (1756-1836)
Now of course most circus attractions that included humans at that time were demeaning and when they involved POC they were racist in nature. However, this does not mean the film should not mention or explore Barnum’s relationships with these people. I have to wonder how much the film will focus on the attractions that made Barnum so famous. At the present moment they’ve casted Michelle Williams as Jenny Lind aka the Swedish Nightingale an opera singer promoted by Barnum. Because she was one of the first castings aside from Hugh Jackman as Barnum I think Jenny Lind will have a major role in the film. They may even position their relationship as the romantic backbone of the film. Jenny Lind being a beautiful white woman is an easy add to the film; the other human attractions not so much. I can only wait and see.
What do you think about this film idea? Does it seem like a film you’d watch? Also would you watch films about the human attractions of the Barnum circus?
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