“Immigrants – we get the job done”.
I like to think this line from ‘Yorktown (The World Turned Upside Down)’ sums up the intent of the musical Hamilton.
Taking inspiration from the 2004 novel by Ron Chernow, Lin-Manuel Miranda set out to create a show about “America then, as told by America now”. And what Hamilton ends up as, is a tale of America’s Founding Fathers as influenced by hip hop, as well as R&B, pop, soul, and traditional-style show tunes.
There’s good reason Hamilton took over the internet around 2015/16. The show which Miranda and the cast created, is a dynamic musical that not only thrills but educates. I personally had no idea who Alexander Hamilton was, apart from being the dude on the $10 note. What you end up experiencing is a journey through the inception of America and Hamilton’s stake in this.
I first experienced Hamilton as the soundtrack, which captured the performers at their very best. And when these performers are Leslie Odom, Jr, Christopher Jackson, Phillipa Soo, Renée Elie Goldsberry, Jonathan Groff and SO MANY MORE then well…the stage show must be something else. And this created a sort of pilgrimage for fans; A race to catch the show with the original Broadway cast, or what became a growing global cast and spectacle. I’ll admit even I tried to figure out how to get to one, but I’m useless so it didn’t happen.
Then Disney announced they would be doing a film.
Filmed in 2016, with the original Broadway cast involved, it’s fair to say fans were excited. Directed by show Director Thomas Kail, it promised to deliver the musical in a way not yet seen on film. This is thanks to three separately filmed performances of Hamilton, combined with “setup shots” recorded without an audience. What it ends up producing is an event which somehow brings the best of the live show into your home, with cinematic flourish. You’ll burst through the doors with our heroes as they take stage, or feel the tone of a scene as it draws in for a close-up. Seeing how these actors earned a haul of Tony awards is fully on-show, and the visuals really take the story all the way home.
Until I saw Hamilton like this, I didn’t realise how much smarter Miranda’s delivery of his “America then” is. With a leading cast filled by people of color, a small detail etched through. Groff’s ‘King George III’ is the only leading white character, reinforcing an idea of how “America then” is similar to “America now”; With both trying to break away from their own forms of tyranny.
Also of note, is Hamilton‘s intended release date changing. They could have left it for next year, but to know they all thought we could do with this right now is an appreciated gesture.
Look, I’m biased as hell.
I already love Hamilton the music, so experiencing Hamilton the film has met all my expectations. Seeing the small ways the cast act out this exceptional musical, provides a whole new way to enjoy it. Seeing favourites like Jasmine Cephas Jones belting it, or Daveed Diggs having so much as Lafayette is a treat.
And yes, while it is 2 hours and 40 minutes long, it feels like nothing when you’re laughing, clapping or in tears during the whole show; It even has intermission, so you can truly recreate your live Hamilton experience by holding in your pee until then.
Of course it's a 10. It's HAMILTON. And it was AMAZING.
XENOJAY.COM was supplied screener access to review HAMILTON by Disney. HAMILTON releases July 3rd, 2020 exclusively on Disney+.