The Greatest Showman; Reel vs. Real

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The Greatest Showman, one of the most talked about movies right now, made its debut December 8, 2017 and made $113 million in five weekends. The touching story of P.T. Barnum’s show business has touched the hearts of so many since it’s came out. Along with extremely catchy music, and a talented cast, there’s no wonder why The Greatest Showman is so popular. But how much of the beautiful rendition of this story is actually true? What really happened to P.T Barnum’s circus? How much of this film was creative license? (If you haven’t seen the movie yet, first, go see it, second, this contains spoilers, so read with caution.)

Jenny Lind and P.T. Barnum

The first topic that I want to compare real vs. reel is the Jenny Lind tour. In the movie, it is portrayed as Jenny Lind, the beautiful singer, and P.T. Barnum, growing closer than they should, and having a “scandalous relationship”. Because of this, Barnum left the tour leaving him basically bankrupt. This isn’t how the tour really happened. Barnum and Lind didn’t have a relationship, and there was no kiss on the front of the newspaper causing his wife to temporarily leave him. During the tour, Lind made more than the modern equivalent of $4 million dollars, and Barnum made more or less a modern $2 million. So the movie was wrong on this case, probably to add some spice and drama to the plot, but it still showcased how talented a singer Lind was.


Rewrite the Characters

The next real vs. reel topic is Zac Efron’s character: Phillip Carlyle, and Zendaya’s: Anne Wheeler. In the movie, Carlyle is a well known and well off actor, who, with some persuasion from Barnum, leaves his life to join the circus. The main reason he stays with the circus is the pretty trapeze artist, Ann Wheeler. As much as we love Zac Efron’s and Zendaya’a “Rewrite the Stars”, that never could have happened because, Carlyle and Wheeler didn’t exist.


She Wasn’t Enough

The last point, isn’t reel vs. real, it’s what you see what you hear. The beautiful song, “Never Enough” is a gorgeous scene, that can move people to tears. But the movie did it wrong, Jenny Lind was a famous soprano, yet the song is in the alto range. And though the scene looks amazing, with Rebecca Ferguson’s great acting skills, she didn’t sing for herself. The song was sung by Loren Allred. Ferguson said that she was portraying the best singer of the time and didn’t want to mess that up. These two women made a beautiful song, but it was a bit deceitful, considering that Ferguson’s face is the one on the music video, and Allred doesn’t get much credit.


The Greatest Show

The Greatest Showman reel wasn’t all to real, but that doesn’t take away from the touching story. Even though the history of the movie wasn’t accurate, it was still a wonderfully done movie. After seeing this movie twice, I still love it and want to see it again, the soundtrack will always be on repeat! I thank Hollywood for this touching story, and letting this story of P.T Barnum come alive, and showing us that dreams can come true.



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