Granger on Film: Streaming on Disney+, ‘Hamilton’ earns an innovative 10
Five years ago, theatergoers and critics were dazzled by this vivacious, culturally significant musical about the nation’s first Treasury secretary, political mastermind Alexander Hamilton. Now you can see the thrilling, live-capture, the 161-minute film version with the original principal Broadway cast.
Utilizing a racially/ethnically diverse cast singing exhilarating R&B, jazz, pop and hip-hop music, writer/composer/performer Lin-Manuel Miranda tells the story of a poor immigrant kid who was born in 1775 on the tiny Caribbean island of Nevis.
Cocky, energetic and verbally blessed, Alexander Hamilton (Lin-Manuel Miranda) became known as George Washington’s (Christopher Jackson) favorite strategist — until he was killed in a duel by his perennial frenemy, manipulative Aaron Burr (Leslie Odom Jr.).
Based on Ron Chernow’s exhaustive, insightful biography (2004), it not only reveals Hamilton’s relentless ambition but also his romantic entanglements. Even after marrying Eliza Schuyler (Phillipa Soo), he maintains a relationship with her sister Angelica (Renee Elise Goldsberry), his intellectual soulmate, while indulging in an adulterous affair with Maria Reynolds, the nation’s first sex scandal.
Most of the humor emanates from England’s arrogant King George III (Jonathan Groff), who is clueless about why the rebellious colonists demanded their independence.
And Hamilton’s clever duet with France’s Marquis de Lafayette (Daveed Diggs) delivers a timely tweak, slyly asserting: “Immigrants — we get the job done.”
Lin-Manuel Miranda reunited with his 2008 Tony-winning “In the Heights” collaborators: director Thomas Kail, choreographer Andy Blankenbuehler and music director/orchestrator Alex Lacamoire. Using multiple cameras, cinematographer Declan Quinn filmed 13 key songs separately, enabling revelatory close-ups of the performers, deftly edited by Jonah Moran.
“So much of what ‘Hamilton’ is about is how history remembers and how that changes over time,” observes Miranda, noting it’s particularly relevant during our country’s coronavirus pandemic, along with Black Lives Matter, amid the bitterly divided political landscape.
On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Hamilton” is an innovative 10, a cultural phenomenon now available anytime, ad-free on Disney+ for $6.99 a month — cancelable at any time.
Susan Granger has been an on-air television and radio commentator and entertainment critic for more than 25 years. Raised in Hollywood, Granger appeared as a child actress in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, and Lassie. She currently resides in Westport.