The Show of ShowsTribeca Film Festival 2016
The history of lost art is always intriguing: what once fascinated audiences and subsequently caused the loss of interest? The circus sure isn’t dead, but popularity has increasingly waned in the digital age. Luckily, for interested parties, a large amount of celluloid was spent documenting “the greatest show on earth”. The Show of Shows, through a variety of footage, highlights these captured moments.
The film opens with clowns getting into costume, trucks being unloaded, and construction of the famous Big Top. Soon, amid a seated audience, the ringmaster opens the show. A procession of death-defying acrobatics, animals and unfathomable feats follow, with clown-led intermissions too, all to the pounding beat of an ambient soundtrack by members of Sigur Rós in collaboration with Hilmar Örn Hilmarsson.
A description of The Show of Shows might risk attracting only aficionados and circus historians, but in fact the curated footage, sourced from the UK to Iceland to the US, is almost as fun as seeing a live circus performance. On a deeper level, the expanse of time featured shows an evolution of entertainment as well as societal awareness. Audiences can appreciate the primitive appeal to an outdated act, yet still see why some aspects are now prohibited.
The Show of Shows displays the capacity of purposeful editing to revive the past. Imagination and technology transforms reels of footage into a documentary about an artform of yore; the ambient pump of synth and strings offer reassurance to skeptical viewers, too. A must-see.
The Show of Shows does not have a UK release date yet.
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Watch the trailer for The Show of Shows here: