In a modern retelling of Tod Browning's "Freaks" (1932), "Freakshow" tells the story of a group of criminals who chose to hide out by working security at a traveling circus. At first, they ... See full summary »
Prizefighter Mason loses his opening fight so wife Rose leaves him for Hollywood. Without her around Mason trains and starts winning. Rose comes back and wants Mason to dump his manager Regan and replace him with her secret lover Lewis.
A circus trapeze artist, Cleopatra, takes an interest in Hans, a midget who works in the circus sideshow. Her interest however is in the money Hans will be inheriting and she is actually carrying on an affair with another circus performer, Hercules. Hans's fiancée does her best to convince him that he is being used but to no avail. At their wedding party, a drunken Cleopatra tells the sideshow freaks just what she thinks of them. Together, the freaks decide to make her one of their own. Written by
Olga Baclanova, later recalled the day when she was first introduced to the supporting cast, Tod Browning "shows me little by little and I could not look, I wanted to faint. I wanted to cry when I saw them. They have such nice faces... they are so poor, you know... he takes me and says, you know, 'Be brave, and don't faint like the first time I show you. You have to work with them.'... It was very, very difficult first time. Every night I felt that I am sick. Because I couldn't look at them. And then I was so sorry for them. That I just couldn't... it hurt me like a human being." See more »
Hercules rushes out of the wagon in pursuit of Josephine/Joseph, hot on his/her heels, but when Cleopatra looks out the window a moment later, Jo is leaning casually against a wagon applying makeup. He/she would not have had time to relax and get out a compact in that short amount of time. See more »
The subject of human disability is still a taboo subject in Cinema, even over 70 years since this film's release.
It's difficult to imagine what impact this film would have had in the 1930's, but as it still has the ability to shock ( through the images of bodily deformity ) I can understand why many shunned and disowned this work, and why it totally ruined Todd Browning's film career.
The basic premise - that beauty is more than skin deep - can appear to be wielded with a sledgehammer, but perhaps the contemporary audience needed to be hit harder in order to make them understand the point.
The film is short ( due to enforced cuts ), and at times can move rather slowly and can appear rather 'stagey' which is a trait of many films from the 20's / 30's.
But don't let that put you off. The plot is simple, but it's the telling of the story rather than the story itself that is important. And you really do need to remind yourself that these are real people - not actors - and this was the live they led.
I rate it 9 outa 10 because they really don't make them like this any more.
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