I first saw this when studying film at University.
Tod Browning tries the sideshow carnival trick of sensationalism to try to bring audiences in to gawk at the disgusting freaks of nature. But he has a trick up his sleeve- he treats the ‘freaks’ as human beings, utterly likeable and as having feelings like everyone else. For this, I love this film. And for this the film was cut, censored or just banned on its original release.
The vilest people in the film are the ones who are able bodied but scheming. The beautiful trapeze artist is trying to swindle the show’s male dwarf out of his inheritance. The other performers find out and reek their own brand of revenge.
This film is clearly an influence on John Waters, particularly Lady Divine’s Cavalcade of Perversion in Multiple Maniacs.
Be proud of what makes you unique. What an amazing message.