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“Hamilton” Captivates On Screens Just As It Must Have On Stage

Who lives, who dies, who tells your story? When it comes to the life of Alexander Hamilton, Lin-Manuel Miranda has proven to be an incredible storyteller. Everyone knows of the stage production Hamilton, but not everyone got a chance to see it. Well, come Friday, a filmed version drops on Disney+, offering up an opportunity for the masses to finally take in Miranda’s masterpiece. Having never seen the show or really heard the music, I went into it pretty blind earlier this week when I put on the screener. Hamilton was obviously a once in a lifetime Broadway event, but it does seem to have lost nothing in the translation to the big (well, really the small) screen. Wow. Just…wow.

The film is a combination of a few live performances in 2016 of the smash-hit Broadway show of the same name (featuring almost all of the original cast, too). It tells the story of the life of one of America’s foremost (and arguably most underrated) founding fathers, as well as the first Secretary of the Treasury, Alexander Hamilton (Miranda). The story is well known by now, but follows Hamilton, a former orphan, as he makes his mark in America, developing an initial friendship with Aaron Burr (Leslie Odom Jr.) that eventually becomes a deadly rivalry, as well as a wife in Eliza Schuyler (Phillipa Soo). From a revolutionary under General George Washington (Christopher Jackson) to a builder of the nation, he’s constantly at odds with Thomas Jefferson (Daveed Diggs), while also slowly moving towards a date with destiny between him and Burr. Thomas Kail directs, while Miranda’s book is obviously used, as well as his music. Supporting players include Renée Elise Goldsberry, Okieriete Onaodowan, Anthony Ramos, and many more. The cinematography for this filmed version is by Declan Quinn.

Lin-Manuel Miranda deserves every bit of the accolades he’s received over the years. The accomplishment here is absolutely staggering. Between the catchy music, the transcendent casting, and the vibrant depiction of history, it’s damn near genius. His work here is phenomenal, both as a creative and in the lead role. The cast really is glorious up and down, whether the turn is big or small. In addition to Miranda’s performance, the work of Daveed Diggs, Renée Elise Goldsberry, Jonathan Groff (as King George), Leslie Odom Jr., Anthony Ramos, and Phillipa Soo really do stand out. Goldsberry, Odom Jr., Miranda, and Soo do some real heavy lifting, while Diggs, Groff, and Ramos (when they’re not handling the drama as well) get some of the comedic highlights of the piece.

Hamilton is one of the more fitting movies to watch these days. As we see protests in the street, calling for equal treatment, seeing non-white actors play the founding fathers is a true societal balm. The United States is a country founded on immigrants and the yearning for freedom and a better life, so seeing the diversity spread out on screen/the stage is just as impactful today as it was when the production began, if not more so. Even if the music isn’t your style (which is largely the case for me with hip-hop and rap inspired tracks), the execution of it all, from the songs to the story, just worms its way into your heart and your mind. It’s impossible not to be thinking about it, days later.

This weekend, you absolutely need to make time for Hamilton, whether you’ve seen the musical before or not. Dropping tomorrow on Disney+, it’s just what we need right about now. Simply put, it’s the masterpiece that everyone has claimed it to be. I’m finally on board with all of the praise. If you’re like me and have yet to experience it, in a day, you’ll be able to, and surely you’ll join me in being a convert. All hail Alexander Hamilton.

Be sure to check out Hamilton, streaming on Disney+ tomorrow!

(Photos courtesy of Disney)

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He contributes to several other film-related websites and is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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