The Big Top on the Big Screen: Explorations of the Circus in Film
Edited by Teresa Cutler-Broyles
Circuses and film are a natural pairing, and the new essays making up this volume begin the exploration of how these two forms of entertainment have often worked together to create a spectacle of onscreen alchemy. The films discussed herein are an eclectic group, ranging from early silent comedies to animated, 21st century examples, in which circuses serve as liminal or carnivalesque spaces wherein characters—and by extension audience members—can confront issues as far-reaching as labor relations, sensuality, identity, ethics, and more.
The circus as discussed in these essays encompasses the big top, the midway, the sideshow and the freak show; it becomes backdrop, character, catalyst and setting; and it is welcoming, malicious or terrifying. Circus performers are family, friends, foe or all of the above. And film is the medium that brings it all together. This volume starts the conversation about how circuses and film can combine to form productive, exciting spaces where almost anything can happen.