My friends can attest—indeed, may even roll their eyes—that I “heart” the recent cinematic musical The Greatest Showman, starring Hugh Jackman. And yes, Hugh alone is reason enough to return to the theater. But the music and storyline have made the movie a surprise hit. Why did I pay three times (thus far) to watch this show? (Never happened before) Why does my family want to purchase the DVD right now (even though it’s not available yet)? Is it indeed the greatest show?
Great music? Check.
Likeable characters? Check.
Engaging plot? Check.
All those elements make this movie worth watching. However, the screenwriters and songwriters combined plot and lyrics to communicate biblical themes—quite possibly without even knowing it. Redemption, devotion, celebration, risk, fighting for social justice, faithfulness, pride before a fall followed by humility, the best on-screen apology written, chasing after the wind, coming home . . . God’s truth fairly screams from the screen and speakers.
I’ll give two examples:
- The Oscar-nominated song “This is Me” champions the innate value of each human being, regardless of appearance, deformity, ability, or winsomeness. Think Genesis 1:26–27, 1 Samuel 16:7, Psalm 139.
I’ve learned to be ashamed of all my scars
Run away, they say
No one’ll love you as you areBut I won’t let them break me down to dust
I know that there’s a place for us
For we are glorious . . .I am brave, I am bruised
I am who I’m meant to be, this is me
Look out ’cause here I come
And I’m marching on to the beat I drum
I’m not scared to be seen
I make no apologies, this is me
- The closing song, “From Now On,” could have been pulled straight out of Ecclesiastes. P. T. Barnum (Jackman’s character) mourns the loss of his business and potentially his family. Pondering his wife’s scathing yet (tough) loving words, and then the encouragement of his faithful troupe, he considers the motivations that sent him down that destructive path:
The more I listen to (and memorize) the soundtrack, the more truth I hear. My kids love the music, too—some of them may or may not have been caught dancing around the house to it—creating natural opportunities to discuss the message of any particular song and its accompanying segment in the movie. So. much. fun. for this mama who wants to instill biblical truth into the hearts of her kids.
All truth is God’s truth. We can always find it in the Bible. But we can often discover it in the arts, and sometimes even through Oscar-nominated movies or our car speakers. We just need to keep our eyes and ears open.
And, if you see me on the highway performing my own personal concert from the driver’s seat . . . don’t judge. Try it yourself!