Butterfly Circus

The Butterfly Circus – Aspects for discussion


A short independent film, created by Joshua and Rebekah Weigel in 2009.
Length of the movie: 20 minutes.
Language: English.
Available from:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1V2z9Ffa21A
or: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p98KAEif3bI

A brief description of the story:
In the 1930s, America is suffering from the Great Depression. Many people are jobless and homeless, and everybody is sad and worried about the difficult economic situation. Mendez is the charismatic master of a small circus, the Butterfly Circus, and he leads his company through Southern California. Along the way, they perform – sometimes for free – to bring some light into the dull lives of people. One evening, they see a sign for a (traveling) carnival and a sideshow and stop to see a funfair with carousels, games, and other entertainment, including a freak show. Here Mendez meets Will, the main attraction, who has no limbs and is on show as a freak of nature, alongside other odd characters such as a painted (tattoo)ed man and a bearded woman. Will is bitter and unhappy, but after meeting Mendez, he decides to leave the carnival and manages to hide on one of the Butterfly Circus trucks to escape. The people in the circus welcome Will, but Mendez tells him he must do something else than just be a freak to become part of the act. Will gets to know his new friends and learns that many of them have a sad past, but that Mendez has given them a second chance in life. One day Will accidentally realizes that he can swim, so he decides to perform a difficult act in the circus. He is raised to the top of a tall pole and dives into a small tank full of water. Will is now happy since he is in the show not because of his odd appearance but because of who he is and what he can do.

The main character, Nick Vujicic is a well-known representative of disabled people. He is traveling around the United States, and speaks to people about the everyday life of disabled persons to understand and see their disabilities and that it is possible to live a full life.

Possible considerations before watching the movie:

  • What disability means for those whom it concerns? - Definition
  • What does it mean for other people?
  • What are the causes of disability? How is it defined by the international classification system of disabilities?
  • What do professionals feel and experience in connection with a disabled person?
  • How do disabled persons feel in comparison with non-disabled ones?

Aspects / issues to observe in the film and discussed after having been watched the movie:

  • What is the image Will created of himself?
  • What did the people think of him?
  • What does "beauty comes from suffering" mean?
  • Why does the Director of The Butterfly Circus say that Will has the advantage to be different from other circus members?
  • Why was the name"Butterfly" chosen for the circus?
  • Did Mr. Mendez, the director hurt Will?
  • What was the method of the Director in his relation to Will?
  • Why did Will like this attitude?
  • What made Will successful?
  • Why do people look up to Will?
  • What does the public see in Will?