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The Greatest Showman & Historical Inaccuracy

The Greatest Showman is a movie-musical that explores the (partially fictionalized) life of P.T. Barnum and the development of the circus. It hasn’t been widely criticized for the erroneous portrayals of certain characters and the way in which it manipulated the story.

This topic would explore the historical accuracy and inaccuracies of the movie and work to illuminate the historical elements that the movie worked to cover up through its narrative.

  • Nice, but you could go well beyond The Greatest Showman if you wanted. If a movie is historical, you can pretty much bet it will be riddled with inaccuracies. Thirteen Days is the movie that comes to mind, but even historical fiction has this problem (Pocahontas, anyone)? I think it would be beneficial to explore historical inaccuracies in movies, in general. Which inaccuracies are we more apt to accept? Why? Which historical events are glossed over or ignored, or changed? I see a wealth of possibilities here. – Stephanie M. 4 years ago
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  • I like this topic, expecially when it is considered in broader terms like: should art strive for historical accuracy, and how accurate must i be? One could also consider whether an artist is ever obliged to represent history inaccurately. I could see this being the case for purposes of racial or gender representation in art. – alexbolano92 4 years ago
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  • I would love to read this topic. After watching the movie, I was wondering about its historical background, and how accurate it was. The movie is excellent (I'm not saying it's not), and I love the songs, and everything, but I know people wouldn't have danced to pop music back in the 1800s (was it?). – sterlinajames 4 years ago
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  • My dad actually made this comment after watching the film. He wanted to know how much of the film was actually accurate, and I believe this would be an interesting read! – snlfilm 4 years ago
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  • PT Barnum definitely came across better in the film than he did in reality. It would be interesting to look at not only what historical inaccuracies there are, but why. For example, Barnum's first "freak" was an 80 year old woman who he claimed was much older than that. When she died, he sold tickets to her autopsy. In the movie, there is a relationship between Barnum and Jenny Lind even though that never actually happened. I do love the songs in this film, but there were many historical inaccuracies that erased Barnum's racism and abilism. – banne 4 years ago
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  • I agree with alexbolano92. I think this is a good topic. And it deserves a close look at how accurate a historical movie could be and should be. – Jingyi 4 years ago
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