‘Hamilton’ Loses Some of Its Revolutionary Spark in the Move to Disney+

Hamilton is incredible. I know. The hottest take of 2015, coming at ya fast. 

It’s hardly breaking news, but it’s what arrives at face value with the filmed version of the musical, releasing on Disney+ this Friday

Even if, like me, you haven’t been able to afford a ticket or logistically plan the years in advance required to nab one, you know this. You’ve heard the incredible music. You’ve seen the incredible performances on TV. You’ve weathered the shrieking chorus of those who have seen it going on (and on) about how incredible it is.

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That incredibleness was never going to be at risk in this film, no matter the inherent shortfalls of capturing a live staged performance on camera. And if the energy that manifests in a live staged performance—in the room where it happens, if you will—fizzles when filtered through a TV screen, what leaps out in its place is meaning. 

What Hamilton means and says about theatre, about history—about us—has been inextricable from its entertainment value for going on six years now. Its streaming premiere at a time of a national reckoning with the very history it depicts begs for that kind of cultural dissection. 

Its themes and its lyrics distill the founding of the country down to human principles, the truths not necessarily self-evident as inked in the Constitution. 

The president today is playing a game of roshambo with our lives—paper trumps rock; the economy trumps lives—and here is an epic musical refocusing the idea of patriotism, what we owe our country, and what our country owes us. It would be ridiculed for being too on the nose had it been written today.

Even its debut on a streaming service a full year and a half before it was initially planned to play in cinemas is political, endemic of the auspicious times it’s now airing—on Fourth of July weekend, no less. 

In a taped introduction to the film, which was shot with the Broadway production’s original cast at the Richard Rodgers Theater in June 2016, creator and star Lin-Manuel Miranda says, “So much of what Hamilton is about is how history remembers, and how much 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.” 

Adds Thomas Kail, who directed both the stage version and the film, “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.”

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