Too bad we nowadays have to watch everything on small screens instead of leaving our homes, but that’s why it’s so great that Disney+ released Hamilton over Fourth of July weekend to deliver the awesome summer entertainment that we all have been craving!
Though first, a disclaimer in regard to the stage production’s translation process into film: With a narrower focus now implemented, the musical’s flaws are made more apparent, such as that one guy who wears a wool beanie in the period setting, even though nobody else throughout the show is seen wearing modern clothes. To build up the noise, trying to hear the singing voices can strain the ears pretty hard most of the time since the music is cranked up too loud.
It’s not just the audio that needed work in the process, while filming the performers on stage, some cheap photography tricks are utilized in attempts to increase the scale beyond what a live show can do. As it’s being recorded, the camera flies a bit randomly around the actors, even leaving some in the background blocked off by others in the foreground; the creative liberties such as an aerial camera shot aren’t really enough to make this better than actually seeing the stage show live. The way the camera is placed doesn’t take the lighting arrangements into account; by themselves they’re beautiful, but in this medium, the actors’ faces often don’t look properly lit the same way they would in a traditional film. Even other dumb blockbusters had stronger atmosphere since they were specifically made for the two-dimensional viewing platform.
At least it still generates a sense of immersion in the Richard Rodgers Theatre; the first thing heard is the announcer telling the audience to silence their cell phones, and as the show goes on, the audience is heard applauding and laughing until the curtain call, when the cast gives expected recognition to the conductor positioned behind the silhouettes of the audience’s final standing ovation. While this still can never replace watching the real deal on Broadway itself, it keeps the message perfectly intact. The focus of the show builds gradual conflict between the national forefathers, all of which is either sung or rapped with only a small handful of lines that are spoken regularly; it results in a full summary of Alexander Hamilton’s life that gives a different perspective.
It’s amazing to see how this adaptation can turn the content of an almost intentionally dull grade school lecture into excitement; the important information is thus picked up far better than in the classroom. This production even goes as far as listing the legacies left behind by the unsung heroes that academic textbooks never mention, leaving a powerful finale that ignites serious thought about what it means for us today. That right there is powerful entertainment that can educate far more than a daily mumble through the Pledge of Allegiance at school. Those multiple levels of clever self-awareness are reflected in the incomplete design of the set that represents the incomplete history of America; although it’s a story forever told, it’s still not a complete story, as we are continuing it right now.
Some characters here call New York City the “greatest city in the world,” but wrongly believe that their nation was progressing under a John 3:16 way to rule that their city was a prime example of. But the truth of the matter is that the entire country at the time was broken, and not just because it was a time when men were loved and women got thrown under the bus, but more because it was a political system that discriminated between the sinners and the saints. The scariest part though is that it’s a system we in a way are still functioning under, much in the same way a couple of middle school kids of today could get into heated religious arguments instead of respecting their differences. So it’s not actually a true account about the past, it’s a true account about the here and now.
Because of its timelessness, this megahit shall last in the public memory until Judgment Day because it has the guts to feature the irony of the government’s attempts to rewrite history. The songs that build up their dialogue are not necessarily catchy the same way as popular Disney songs, their sophistication surpasses something hummable for the shower. Rather, they penetrate deeper; the songs contain a complex mixture of various genres, the most prominent being rap, that work to the benefit of showcasing what happens when different cultural backgrounds come together. All the spectacular rapping should prove amazing with how fast the singers speak; it must be like fifty words per second! Heck, there’s even beat boxing incorporated into the combination of genres! At the peak of the music’s quality, two politicians engage in a rap battle to the dialogue that would be heard in a presidential debate, the crowd likewise being rallied up to cheer one side on over the other.
With the high energy of the rapping and beat boxing, there’s still time set aside for comic relief when the King of England comes out with a hilarious over-the-top loud voice which sings “da-da-da-da-da-da-da-da-dai-da-da…” in the goofiest way possible! Some may enjoy it so much they may want to see more of that character, but others may still enjoy the rap battle scenes a lot more. But that’s what’s so great about this legendary show, there’s something in it for everybody!
With that said, it’s easy to see why Hamilton will last much longer in public popularity than something like Steven Spielberg’s biopic about Abraham Lincoln. This pop culture phenomenon really is an ideal way to celebrate our country, at home, in New York, in Pandora, or in any way appropriate.
If there is a specific movie you’d like to see graded, or if you are interested in guest blogging for my site, please email me at Trevor@TrevorsViewOnHollywood.com for your recommendations.
Have a great weekend, and happy watching!