I grew up reading The Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket. He was extremely funny and of course, I was considered extremely well-read by fellow seven-year-olds for having read the entire series. One of the books took place in a circus, and the three main protaganists befriended many of the "freaks". It was disturbing to me as a child. When I watched this movie, I got the same unsettling feeling.
The film starts with an audience screaming as they see an incredibly awful sight. A circus performer then begins to tell the tragic backstory of one of the freaks. I have always loved films that are flashbacks although this one is a lot more grosteque then say, The Titanic (couldn't be more different actually). I got the ending ruined for me simply by looking up background on the movie but I will not spoil it for you.
This movie is probably nothing like you have seen before. It is completely authentic and in the age we live in now, I feel safe in saying that a film like it will never be made again. This movie, though, was not made to make fun of or gawk at the freaks but rather to show that inside they are exactly the same as us (I know that sounded lame but deal with it!). The people that pay to see them are shown as the freaks, not the performers.
The electrical equipment on set was faulty so the actors were frequently shocked.
The romance between the midgets was subdued because they were brother and sister.
It is still technically illegal to watch this movie in some parts of the US because the laws that banned this movie were never really repealed. Uh oh.
A fan made trailer I found: