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I love the book but for some reason I'd been hesitant to watch the movie. I don't understand why, because it's brilliant! Very close to the book and very well made. I loved seeing Reese Witherspoon in a more series/less chick-flick'y role, and Robert Patterson once again reminded me that he actually can act - even if he doesn't always show it.
The book is great - I miss the parts with the old Jacob in the movie - but it's still a great movie and the rest is very true to the book
|Robert Pattinson||Jacob Jankowski|
|Reese Witherspoon||Marlena Rosenbluth|
|Christoph Waltz||August Rosenbluth|
|Tatum Etheridge||Jacob's Daughter|
|Hal Holbrook||Jacob Jankowski|
|Paul Schneider||Charlie O'Brien|
|Sam Anderson||Mr. Hyde|
|Donna W. Scott||Barbara|
|Brad Greenquist||Mr. Robinson|
|Tim Guinee||Diamond Joe|
"Life is the most spectacular show on earth."
The film opens in present day, when the proprietor of a small traveling circus encounters an elderly man who has apparently become detached from his nursing home group, which attended the circus earlier that day. They strike up a conversation and the elderly man reveals that he himself had a career in the circus business. Jacob reveals that he was present during one of the most infamous circus disasters of all time and the circus owner asks him to share his story.Most of the film then takes place in a flashback to the era of the Great Depression. 23-year-old Polish American Jacob is a Cornell veterinary medicine student on the brink of a promising career as a veterinarian. Unfortunately, during his last final exam, he is informed that his parents were killed in a car crash. His father has left huge debts, and the bank was foreclosing on Jacob's home. Feeling there is no point in returning to school, and having no home to go home to, he jumps onto a passing train where he meets Camel.In the morning, Jacob discovers that he jumped on the Benzini Brothers Circus train. He sees a beautiful woman, Marlena Rosenbluth, and meets August, the circus owner, head animal trainer, and Marlena's husband. Jacob reveals he studied veterinary science and has noticed a problem with Silver, the star horse in the show. August agrees to hire Jacob as a vet for the circus animals after Jacob tells August that Silver has laminitis, is in terrible pain and will soon be unable to walk, never mind perform.August instructs Jacob to "fix" Silver and keep him performing as long as possible. But Jacob cannot bear to see Silver's suffering and takes it upon himself to put Silver down. August is furious with Jacob's decision to euthanize Silver against orders. To show Jacob who is boss, he threatens to throw him from the moving train - telling him that an animal's suffering is nothing compared to a man's, and that Jacob must carry out all of August's future orders if he wishes to keep his job.August eventually procures Rosie the elephant as Silver's replacement. He is initially thrilled and invites Jacob to his car for dinner and cocktails with him and Marlena. Jacob — clearly attracted to Marlena — watches uncomfortably as the married couple flirt and dance in front of him, but later in the evening becomes clear that their relationship is complicated. August is possessive, jealous and sometimes rough with Marlena.In the next few weeks, August becomes frustrated when Rosie the elephant seems impossible to train. August is brutal with Rosie, beating her when she fails to follow orders. After one such beating, Jacob realizes that the elephant was trained in Polish and only understands Polish commands. After that, Rosie performs beautifully and the circus enjoys a short period of success. While working closely together to train Rosie, Jacob and Marlena fall in love. After August discovers this, he cruelly taunts the two. Later that night, Marlena discovers that August plans to throw Jacob from the train and they run away together. Hiding in a local hotel, they are ambushed by August's henchmen who drag Marlena away and beat up Jacob.Jacob returns to the circus to find Marlena. After Marlena finds Jacob she tells him that his friends Walter (Kinko) and Camel were thrown from the train and killed. Several circus employees have become fed up with August's murderous cruelty and unleash their revenge by unlocking all the animals' cages while the big top tent is jam-packed with an audience enjoying Marlena and Rosie's performance. Jacob attempts to find Marlena in the chaos and August attacks him. When Marlena tries to stop August from beating Jacob, he turns his fury on her and attempts to choke her, while one of August's henchmen continues beating Jacob. Two circus workers save Jacob just in time. Lying on the ground, bloodied and beaten, he looks up and sees Rosie hit August on the back of the head with a metal spike.Back in the present, Jacob explains what happened afterward: he returned to Cornell, took his last exam, and finished his degree. He and Marlena took several of the horses and Rosie and got jobs with Ringling Brothers – he as a vet and she continuing to perform with the animals. They married and had five children and kept Rosie until her death many years later. Eventually, he took a job as a vet at the Albany Zoo and Marlena died peacefully in her bed at an old age. He convinces the circus owner to whom he is telling his story to hire him in the ticket booth. The circus owner agrees and Jacob states that he has finally come home.
Theatrical : 2011-04-22 : United States of America
DVD : 2011-11-01