Plopped in the painstaking hub of the Great Depression, “The Butterfly Circus” dives into the journey of an emotionally stonewalled limbless man named Will (Nick Vujicic). While displaying his natural bodily structure (for which there is little physical hope for recovery) at a circus freak show, a sympathetic onlooker whispers heartening words, which Will returns with a wad of spit. Mr. Mendez (Eduardo Verastegui), the cordial encourager, happens to be the showman leader at another circus, where all sorts of misfits and nothings–people whose pasts trampled on their emotions–transformed into warmhearted individuals.
Determined to discover this wholesome circus, Will tracks Mr. Mendez and succeeds. With the unearthing of this new world, Will struggles unearthing his own past scars and self-image while Mr. Mendez tells of the butterfly-like changes in the hearts of his performers, like George (Matt Allman) the show’s strongman, who once pointlessly engaged in bar-fights with drunkards.
Will takes the plunge. He deals with his scars and recognizes that he’s not some freak of God’s creation, but he is God’s creation.
Packed with that vintage sense with which most Americans perceive the Great Depression, the cinematography is stunning. Placing many of the scenes in the desert and the plot within circuses builds on that old-world theme. As a traveling preacher, it’s perplexing that Nick Vujicic–playing Will–could capture the sorrow and jubilation of a freak show turned whole again, but he does with caliber. Starring in Bella and Chasing Papi, along with roles in various Novelas, Eduardo Verastegui skillfully enters the daring and affectionate person of Mr. Mendez–all while maintaing an air of magical showmanship.
Having directed other short films like “Stained,” married couple Joshua and Rebekah Weigel had the same motivations for “The Butterfly Circus:” to create “meaningful films that entertain, challenge and inspire,” as the film’s website states. Viewed by nearly 10 million fans, the cinematic duo is venturing to expand the short to a feature length film, which I’ll unquestionably have to see.