Circus movies have a long and interesting history: From classics such as The Greatest Show on Earth to modern day hits like The Greatest Showman, from legends making circus movies (Charlie Chaplin in The Circus and Fellini’s La Strada) to circus movies that became legends (like Wings of Desire)… Audiences seem to be fascinated not only with live circus but with its various depictions on the silver screen.
Disney’s animated Dumbo (1941) holds a strange place in the pantheon of circus movies: On the one hand delightful and heart-wrenching (who hasn’t shed a tear when mama Jumbo sings “Baby Mine”?), on the other side bizarre and at times problematic (the crows an outdated and racist stereotype of African-Americans). But as Disney announced a live-action remake of the old, beloved animation feature, Tim Burton seemed the perfect choice. Not only is Burton known for his strong, unusual sense of aesthetic befitting any circus, he also has a history of including circus characters, scenes and themes in his movies. My personal favorite is the circus scene in Big Fish, where acrobats and jugglers freeze mid-trick as the hero spots his love interest across the room. Ironically, Danny DeVito – who played the circus owner in Big Fish – plays a circus owner in Dumbo, too. With Tim Burton’s live-action remak...
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