Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells your Story: “Hamilton” on Disney+

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Maïa Berthier

Leslie Odom Jr. as Aaron Burr (left) and Lin-Manuel Miranda as Alexander Hamilton (right) in the Disney+ film, "Hamilton"

Leidi-Di Salcedo-Urena, Staff Writer

Director: Thomas Kail

Writers: Lin Manuel-Miranda (musical), Ron Chernow (book that inspired Hamilton, the musical)

Release Date: July 3, 2020

MPAA Rating: PG-13

Starring: Lin Manuel-Miranda (Alexander Hamilton), Philipa Soo (Eliza Hamilton), Leslie Odom Jr. (Aaron Burr), Renée Elise Goldsberry (Angelica Schuyler), Daveed Diggs (Lafayette, Thomas Jefferson)

Our Rating: A

“Hamilton”—the sensational musical that amazed many in its debut back in 2016, is now streaming on Disney+. This musical tells the story of Alexander Hamilton, a founding father whose story was largely untold, and his journey from “bastard orphan” to the man who “took our country from bankruptcy to prosperity.”

“Hamilton” is in itself a work of genius. It takes influence from modern day hip-hop culture and blends it together with history, along with clever hidden elements, to achieve a sound like no other. You will never get the full story on the first watch- every time you view it, you can find a new motif, a new symbol, a new meaning to the fast-paced rap lyrics. With listeners of the soundtrack and fans that closely followed the musical now being able to see the musical up on stage via film, it is can now see that the symbolism wasn’t only present in the music itself, but also in the stage production.

It is is evident when watching the film that cinematographers and editors put a lot of effort into making the view feel as if they were there. They documented everything, including the sweat and the spit. When capturing the plot, the cinematographers stuck to a wider shot of the stage, leaving more zoomed in shots for character introductions. This causes a dramatic effect that truly adds and compliments the storyline.

“I enjoyed the film and the music. I have liked Hamilton for a long time and it lived up to all my expectations,” freshman Anabella Rodriguez said.

This film came as a saving grace to the bored masses in quarantine and was largely well received by the public, but was also met with plenty of criticism, mostly from people who believe that the musical glorified founding fathers as “good men” and glossed over the fact that most of them were slave owners. It is also important to recognize that Lin Manuel-Miranda, the musical’s writer, recognizes the history and attempted to fit it in the musical. “All the criticisms are valid. The sheer tonnage of complexities & failings of these people I couldn’t get. Or wrestled with but cut. I took 6 years and fit as much as I could in a 2.5 hour musical. Did my best,” Miranda said in a tweet responding to the criticism. It might not be as accurate as a history textbook, but the creators do not claim to be entirely historically accurate. Although the real founding fathers were not inherently good people, their faults do not take away from the musical’s quality.

“Of course the founding fathers weren’t the best men and the majority did own slaves but the musical doesn’t normalize or even mention that. The musical has a very diverse cast and even has black actors for the white racist founding fathers who were slave owners. It honestly helps show that racism is terrible and we should be more inclusive and supportive of each other” freshman Leeanna Anderson said.

Overall, “Hamilton” is a masterpiece. With its incredibly clever and catchy lyrics, along with the amazing singing from the actors and the eye-catching camera work of the cinematographers, it is truly a film to remember.