Hamilton: The Show Goes On
From Broadway to Your Home, the Story of Hamilton in Musical Form
Originally planned for theatrical release on October 15, 2021, Disney+ users were given a special treat when the popular Broadway musical, “Hamilton” was released on July 3rd, (2020). Directed and produced by Thomas Kail, well-known American theatre director, and written, produced, and composed by Lin-Manuel Miranda, Hamilton has received highly positive reviews from first-time watchers and viewers who saw the musical live. Miranda also stars as first Treasury Secretary and Founding Father Alexander Hamilton alongside the musical’s original Broadway cast. The movie runs for 160 minutes with a PG-13 rating.
Hamilton is great for all audiences (above the age of 13) – it is highly engaging and has humor sprinkled in while also teaching about the history of the United States during its formation. Though the movie/Broadway musical do delve into some darker aspects of Hamilton’s life, the PG-13 rating is appropriately given.
The story is divided into two acts. The first covers Alexander Hamilton’s arrival in New York City in 1776 and his work as an aide to General George Washington during the American Revolution. The second act follows Hamilton’s postwar work as the first Secretary of the Treasury, his family life and strife, and the events leading to his death.
Unlike other movie musicals, animated or live-action – such as “The Little Mermaid” or “Les Miserables” – “Hamilton” is a filmed stage production of the critically acclaimed 2015 Broadway musical of the same name. Viewers who saw live showings of the musical should still give the movie a watch, as the camerawork, directing, and editing give an experience that you would not be able to get from even the best seats in Richard Rodgers Theatre.
An interesting dynamic is created by the filming style, as applause can be heard from the live audience after every number, which leads to a more immersive experience for viewers despite watching from the comfort of their homes. Reports have shown that the national average cost for tickets to the live musical was around $300, a far cry from the $6.99 a month Disney+ subscription needed to watch the movie.
IMDb gave an 8.8/10 rating, Rotten Tomatoes gave a stunning 98%, and critics on Metacritic scored the film a 90%.
The entire movie, all 160 minutes (2 hours and 40 minutes) is highly engaging. Unlike previously mentioned musicals, “Hamilton” includes only sung dialogue, in a variety of modern styles – from hip hop to rap. The camerawork and editing give audiences a never-before-seen viewing experience of a live Broadway musical. The talents and expressions of each actor is on full display, immersing audiences deeper than if watched live – not an easy feat.
The impact of the music cannot be overstated when reviewing a musical, and “Hamilton” includes a cornucopia of grand music – many numbers which were instant hits after the musical was first performed.
There were certain editing decisions made which obscured the wonderful choreography of the stage actors, but the moments and scenes were few and far between. Though the watching experience was amplified, the sounds and nuanced orchestral accompaniment is still best experienced in person – so a part of the experience has been lost.
“[AMERICANS THINK of Alexander Hamilton as a martyr, but] I would call him a kind of a borderline type, in psychological terms, meaning that he was unstable. He was driven by ambition. He could be ruthless. He was certainly capable of dishonesty on a massive level. If anybody was dangerous in terms of what I think of as American ideals, it was Hamilton, not Burr.
It was Hamilton who said, ‘I have no use for democracy’; who made it very clear that he had no use for ordinary people. He thought children of a very tender age should work in factories. He horrified some of his own friends with some of his views. He was good about slavery. He did believe in the emancipation of slaves and believed that blacks should be serving in the army, to which the service was totally opposed. He had some virtues, but a martyr, no.”
“There wasn’t anything made of [Aaron Burr’s funeral. For twenty years. there was nothing on his grave to indicate he was even buried there. There is now. There is an Aaron Burr Association with about two hundred members that is dedicated to promoting [Burr’s] reputation…. [He is buried in Princeton, New Jersey, not far from the graves of his father and grandfather, who were both presidents of Princeton, both ministers.
Most Americans think Alexander Hamilton was a martyr and that Aaron Burr was a villain. … I want them to have another look at Aaron Burr. I want them to see that Burr has been much maligned and deserves to be thought of in a far better way than he is. I want them to think that Hamilton was ruth less, totally ambitious, power-driven. He (was) certainly a brilliant man. maybe a genius. Burr was not a brilliant man. He wasn’t that. Hamilton was important in terms of the nation’s financial security at the beginning, and he deserves every kind of credit for that. Burr contributed nothing of any lasting importance. But for me, if I had to choose a dinner companion, it would be Aaron Burr.”
– Quotes from Brian Lamb’s “Booknotes: Stories from American History”
A fascinating story told in a very unique fashion with a vibrantly modern energy imbued into it, “Hamilton” is definitely worth a watch.