Film Review by Barbara Baum Levine and James McCarthy
If Texas Senator Ted Cruz’s nose was out of joint upon publication of The New York Times feature titled 1619, then Hamilton, if he sees the film, is sure to cause his head to spin like that of the child in The Omen. Cruz was exasperated, if not apoplectic, that the Pulitzer Prize was awarded for 1619 despite his contention that it distorted history and American exceptionalism. If Cruz plans to view Hamilton, it might be well for him to have medical personnel nearby. Viewing iconic American figures such as George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, Aaron Burr, and Thomas Jefferson portrayed by a cast of actors of color could bring on demonic possession similar to that in The Exorcist.
A number of years ago, we were fortunate to see In the Heights on Broadway, Lin-Manuel Miranda’s first big musical hit depicting immigrant life in a Big Apple neighborhood in upper Manhattan. Hyped by press coverage, we had on several occasions made tentative plans to travel to New York City to see Hamilton. Alas, that was not to be and so we settled for the Disney film version. Happily, we can report that the viewing in the comfort of our home was a magnificent experience, evoking our applause following some numbers as though we were seated in a Manhattan theater. Imagine yourself and your mate cheering in your own home.
We are both history buffs and were mesmerized by the accomplishment of Miranda’s skill in communicating a complex historical era in lyrical messages. Even more astonishing is the fact that it was in hip hop. It was clear that we would soon watch a repeat performance and recommend that first-time viewers use closed-captioning to better appreciate the lyrics.
The energy with which the cast shares an American saga with the audience rivals the intimate experience of live theater.
The choreography and costuming are stunning, with minimalist sets to stage events and create historical context. The energy with which the cast shares an American saga with the audience rivals the intimate experience of live theater. At the final curtain, we were left sharing our admiration for Mr. Miranda’s musical and storytelling genius. And we will have the opportunity to repeat this first enjoyable evening many times to come.
Be sure to take the time to view the roundtable discussion with the performers to hear their version of the creation and presentation of Hamilton. All this for $6.99!