'Hamilton': Streaming Review
Share This article
HAMILTON, a production of the award-winning Broadway stage musical, filmed in 2016 and released on Disney+, follows a chronological narrative structure of the life and sudden death of Alexander Hamilton, one of the 39 signers of the United States Constitution who became the first Secretary of the Treasury. HAMILTON is a patriotic musical, with some positive Christian, moral elements, but it has too much gratuitous foul language and some politically correct moments.
The TV program begins with the writer, Lin Manuel Miranda, and director, Thomas Kail, talking about what makes the musical so special. Right after their brief opening statements, the screen cuts to a stage production of HAMILTON, which was recorded in New York in 2016.
HAMILTON follows a chronological narrative structure where characters sing the date so that the audience can track with the events on stage. The opening song begins by explaining the origins of Alexander Hamilton, a child from the small island of Nevis in the Caribbean. Taken in by a prominent merchant, Hamilton was sent to New York as a teenager to further his education. Eventually, Hamilton rose to political power with his zeal for new government policies and joined the American War for Independence. Hamilton started his political career with humble means, eventually married and helped founded the Federalist Party, all while having a love/hate relationship with Aaron Burr, who was Thomas Jefferson’s first Vice President and became a controversial figure who had a life-changing political conflict with Hamilton.
In his early adulthood, Hamilton marries a woman from a wealthy family named Eliza (short for Elizabeth) and the two later became parents to a son named Phillip and seven other children. Eliza’s sister, Angelica, always fancied Hamilton but chooses to let her feelings go by the wayside so that he could foster a life with Eliza. Meanwhile, Hamilton’s intelligence picks up traction throughout the New York area, and George Washington puts Hamilton in his corner as his aide de camp during the American War for Independence. Hamilton’s quick rise makes other political powers like Thomas Jefferson and James Madison skeptical. Across the pond in England, the King occasionally has a bit on stage where he comments on the political landscape of the Americas from a satirical standpoint.
Hamilton helps Washington win the final big battle at Yorktown. After the war, Hamilton compiles 51 essays, which form the bulk of THE FEDERALIST PAPERS defending the new Constitution. He also becomes the first Secretary of the Treasury under President George Washington and agrees to a compromise with Jefferson and Madison on the new country’s financial structure. At the same time, Aaron Burr becomes jealous of Hamilton’s high standing in the Washington administration.
Regrettably, Hamilton cheats on Elizabeth with a woman named Maria Reynolds. The music in HAMILTON suggests that one of his great character flaws is that he will never be satisfied. Will he ever be satisfied professionally or personally? Hamilton’s first son, Phillip, grows up to attend Kings College, but is something of a hothead. Phillip dies in a duel, which breaks his parents’ hearts but reconciles them after Hamilton’s affair.
Then, Hamilton helps president Washington write his farewell address, and a flabbergasted King George in England is amazed that Washington voluntarily steeped down and will be succeeded by John Adams. However, Hamilton’s support for Jefferson over Burr and Adams in the 1800 presidential election further exacerbates the growing rift between Hamilton and Burr. The animosity between them comes to a boil. Burr challenges Hamilton to a duel, and Hamilton accepts. The rest, as they say, is history.
HAMILTON does a fair job of editing the stage program to meet the medium changes of a movie. There are some great cuts that zoom in on the action on stage and some overhead shots that changes up the cinematography. However, it’s up to the audience to decide for themselves if HAMILTON should have stayed as a Broadway-only production. Since HAMILTON is all rap lyrics, viewers will have to stay focused, so they don’t miss a beat, literally. Also, some of the characters are double-cast, which also merits extra focus.
Although very creative, with some appealing melodies to go along with its rap lyrics, HAMILTON romanticizes the life of Alexander Hamilton. However, it offers a Christian, moral, patriotic worldview overall. For example, it extols marriage, church, prayer, hard work, and the founding of America. It also includes a few mentions of God, a reference to Moses and the Promised Land, some quotes from the Constitution, and the need to pray in the midst of personal grief. That said, HAMILTON has some politically correct elements where identity politics are apparently promoted. Also, Thomas Jefferson is depicted in a negative light because he owned slaves, and a proto-feminist comment is made about women showing up more in politics.
Sadly, HAMLTON contains too much gratuitous and anachronistic foul language, including several strong profanities. Ultimately, therefore, MOVIEGUIDE® advises extreme caution.
Share This article