The film version of the Broadway phenomenon “Hamilton” premiered on Disney+ Friday, giving people the opportunity to experience the hit musical on screen.
“Hamilton” debuted on Broadway in 2015 and has since been regarded as one of the most influential and extraordinary musicals of all time. To send the musical to Disney+ as a movie was nothing short of ambitious, and the cast did not throw away their shot.
“Hamilton” brings a collection of groundbreaking music, phenomenal acting and an array of emotions to the screen. Director Thomas Kail and the rest of the cast made it feel like I was in the room where it happened, a feat that’s hard to achieve.
The musical follows the life of United States Founding Father Alexander Hamilton and his ascendence from an orphan from the Caribbean to Secretary of the Treasury of the United States.
To emulate a theater experience through a television screen is challenging, but through meticulous camerawork, masterful cinematography and compelling acting, the film brought a front-row ticket at the theater to my couch.
The movie was filmed in 2016, while the original Broadway cast was in the prime of their run on Broadway and their chemistry is noticeable and rich.
“Hamilton” has debuted in cities all over the country, all with different casts, but experiencing the musical with the original cast was unalike the show I saw with the non-original cast.
The energy of Lin-Manuel Miranda (Alexander Hamilton), the emotion of Leslie Odom Jr. (Aaron Burr), the power of Renée Elise Goldsberry (Angelica Schuyler) and the rest of the cast bursts through the screen for the entire two-hour-and-40-minute duration.
The story of Alexander Hamilton, an immigrant seeking a revolution who is “young, scrappy and hungry” just like his country, is a strong message of resilience and the American dream.
But the American dream is reimagined in the musical, as the story of the white Founding Fathers is recreated by a Black and Latino cast with a hip-hop based score.
The film is far more than just a history lesson, but the historical backgrounds of certain historical figures in the musical have sparked controversy. Many of the Founding Fathers included in the film owned slaves. Thomas Jefferson’s ownership of slaves is referenced in the line, “Your debts are paid because you don’t pay for labor,” but for the other Founding Fathers— including George Washington— it is not mentioned.
Miranda tweeted his response to the criticism of the Founding Fathers’ portrayal July 6, saying “all criticisms are valid” and that he took six years to fit as much as he could into a two-and-a-half-hour musical.
The Black Lives Matter movement has served as a reminder that the issues that plagued America in the time setting of “Hamilton” in the late 1700s are still carrying weight in 2020.
Other messages that carry relevance today appear throughout the film as well, most notably when Miranda and Daveed Diggs as Hamilton and Lafayette duet for the line “Immigrants, we get the job done,” prompting emphatic applause and cheers among the viewing crowd at the Richard Rodgers Theatre.
Although “Hamilton” has its minor history errors and controversies, it displays the fact that an immigrant stands as a pillar to the base of America and represents a vision that America has and will be driven by people of color at the same capacity as others.