The new Hamilton film on Disney+ releasing tomorrow is a tour de force, offering viewers the best seat in the house (in fact, better than the best seat!). The early release of the film, originally planned for 2021, is particularly poignant for both the message of the show amidst the recent social upheaval and the timing, as Broadway will remain shutdown until at least January 2021. The film opens with a message from Lin Manuel-Miranda, writer and star, of Hamilton, and Thomas Kail, the director of the stage version and film version of Hamilton.
Lin Manuel-Miranda as Alexander Hamilton and Leslie Odom, Jr. as Aaron Burr. Film still courtesy of Disney+.
“We’re in a time when we can’t gather,” says Manuel-Miranda, “and we’re all thinking about what it means to be Americans,” adds Kail. He continues, “It felt really important for us to try to give this story, that felt like it was about all of us, to as many people as we could.” Manuel-Miranda says, “So much of what Hamilton is about is what history remembers, and how that changes over time…I think it takes on a different meaning when you see Black and Brown performers telling the origin story of our country.” Kail says, “I’m proud of Hamilton because I feel like we made something that spoke to the moment when we made it and also can speak to the moment now.”
Daveed Diggs, as the Marquis de Lafayette. Film still courtesy of Disney+.
We had a chance to get an early screening of the Hamilton, and the result is an up-close and personal experience inside the theater. There’s an audience, so you can hear the reactions like you were at the show, but the camera angles provide a proximity to the performers that you would not be able to get in person. You’ll feel like you are literally on stage with the cast — and the detail is all there (down to the spit of King George III!). The production uses Dolby Vision to make the costumes pop in color and to allow for details of the set to be seen, as if you are in the front row. There’s a surround sound effect, using Dolby Atmos, so you feel the characters move past you sound-wise. If you haven’t had the opportunity to see Hamilton on stage yet, this is a great way to escape during this pandemic.
Phillipa Soo as Eliza Hamilton, Renee Elise Goldberry as Angelica Schuyler and Jasmine Cepha Jones as Peggy Schuyler. Film still courtesy of Disney+.
All the characters are there — Hamilton, Burr, George Washington, Eliza Hamilton and her sisters, George Washington, King George III, the Marquis de Lafayette, Thomas Jefferson, and more. And all the songs appear, speaking to the American spirit and the origin stories of our country, like “Hey yo, I’m just like my country, I’m young, scrappy and hungry. And I’m not throwing away my shot!” in the song, My Shot. Some of the lyrics take on some new meaning in current times, like
“But we’ll never be truly free
Until those in bondage have the same rights as you and me
You and I.
Do or die”
“This is not a moment, it’s the movement
Where all the hungriest brothers with
Something to prove went?
Foes oppose us, we take an honest stand
We roll like Moses, claimin’ our promised land
And? If we win our independence?
Is that a guarantee of freedom for our descendants?
Or will the blood we shed begin an endless
Cycle of vengeance and death with no defendants?”
Jonathan Groff as King George III. Film still courtesy of Disney+.
Hamilton is also a tribute to New York City, with lyrics like “Look around look around at how lucky we are to be alive right now!
History is happening in Manhattan and we just happen to be in the greatest city in the world! The greatest city in the world!” There’s even a jab at New Jersey thrown in, so very New York of them!
Lin Manuel-Miranda as Alexander Hamilton and Phillipa Soo as Eliza Hamilton. ilm still courtesy of Disney+.
Sign up for Disney+ to see Hamilton when it releases tomorrow!