Hamilton
Hamilton Disney+ poster 2020.jpg
Release poster
Directed byThomas Kail
Written byLin-Manuel Miranda
Based onAlexander Hamilton
by Ron Chernow
Produced by
Starring
CinematographyDeclan Quinn
Edited byJonah Moran
Music byLin-Manuel Miranda
Production
companies
Distributed byWalt Disney Studios Motion Pictures[2]
Release date
  • July 3, 2020 (2020-07-03)
Running time
160 minutes[3]
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Budget$12.5 million (stage production)[4]

Hamilton is a 2020 American historical fiction[5][6] musical drama film consisting of a live stage recording of the 2015 Broadway musical of the same name, which was inspired by the 2004 biography Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow. It was directed and produced by Thomas Kail and produced, written, and composed by Lin-Manuel Miranda. Miranda also stars as Treasury Secretary and Founding Father Alexander Hamilton, along with the musical's original principal Broadway cast.

Originally planned for theatrical release on October 15, 2021, Hamilton was instead released worldwide by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures to stream on Disney+ on July 3, 2020. Acclaimed by critics for its visuals, performances, and direction, it became one of the most-streamed films of 2020. The film was named as one of the best films of 2020 by the American Film Institute, and was nominated for Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy and Best Actor in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy (for Miranda) at the 78th Golden Globe Awards, while Daveed Diggs was nominated for Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Male Actor in a Limited Series or Television Movie. Hamilton was also nominated for twelve Primetime Emmy Awards, and won two, including Outstanding Variety Special.

Synopsis

The orphan Alexander Hamilton experiences a hard early life, and through his smarts, leaves his home, the island of Nevis ("Alexander Hamilton"). As a student at King's College in New York in 1776, Hamilton meets Aaron Burr, John Laurens, the Marquis de Lafayette, and Hercules Mulligan ("Aaron Burr, Sir"), and impresses them with his rhetorical skills ("My Shot"). The latter three and Hamilton affirm their revolutionary goals to each other, while Burr remains apprehensive ("The Story of Tonight"). Later, the daughters of the wealthy Philip Schuyler—Peggy, Angelica, and Eliza—go into town and share their opinion on the upcoming revolution ("The Schuyler Sisters"); it is at this time that Samuel Seabury warns everyone about the dangers of Congress while Hamilton disagrees and counters Seabury ("Farmer Refuted"), until King George III insists on his authority ("You'll Be Back"). During the New York and New Jersey campaign, Hamilton accepts a position as George Washington's aide-de-camp despite longing for field command ("Right Hand Man").

At a ball hosted by Philip Schuyler ("A Winter's Ball"), Eliza falls helplessly in love with Hamilton, who reciprocates her feelings to the point of marriage ("Helpless"), as Angelica suppresses her own feelings for the sake of their happiness ("Satisfied"). After the wedding, Burr and Hamilton congratulate each other's successes ("The Story of Tonight (Reprise)") while Burr reflects on Hamilton's swift rise while considering his own more cautious career as well as his affair with Theodosia, the wife of a British officer ("Wait For It").

As conditions worsen for the Continental Army ("Stay Alive"), Hamilton aids Laurens in a duel against Charles Lee, who had insulted Washington ("Ten Duel Commandments"). Laurens injures Lee, who yields, while Hamilton is temporarily suspended by Washington over the duel and is sent home ("Meet Me Inside"). There, Eliza reveals that she is pregnant with her first child, Philip, and asks Hamilton to slow down to take in what has happened in their lives ("That Would Be Enough"). After Lafayette persuades France to get involved on the colonists' side, he urges Washington to call Hamilton back to help plan the final Battle of Yorktown. Washington agrees ("Guns and Ships"), but explains to Hamilton, who is convinced that he should die a martyr and a hero in war, that he should be wary of what he does next because whatever he does will be known for all time ("History Has Its Eyes on You"). At the Battle of Yorktown, Hamilton meets up with Lafayette to take down the British, revealing that Mulligan was recruited as a spy, helping them figure out how to trap the British and win the war ("Yorktown (The World Turned Upside Down)").

Soon after the victory of Yorktown, King George asks the newborn America how it will succeed on its own ("What Comes Next?"), while Lafayette returns to France with plans to inspire his people to have their own revolution. Hamilton's son Philip is born, while Burr has a daughter, Theodosia, and the two tell their children how they will do anything to protect them ("Dear Theodosia"). Hamilton receives word that his long-time friend John Laurens has been killed in a seemingly pointless battle after the war was won and throws himself into his work ("The Laurens Interlude/Tomorrow There'll Be More Of Us"). He co-authors The Federalist Papers and is selected as Secretary of the Treasury by newly elected President Washington, amidst Eliza begging Hamilton to stay and Angelica moving to London with her new husband ("Non-Stop").

Thomas Jefferson returns to America from being the U.S. ambassador to France, taking up his newfound position as Secretary of State ("What'd I Miss"). In 1789, Jefferson and Madison debate Hamilton's financial proposals at a Cabinet meeting. Washington tells Hamilton to figure out a compromise to win over Congress ("Cabinet Battle #1").

Eliza and her family—along with Angelica, back from London—travel upstate during the summer, while Hamilton stays home to work on the compromise ("Take a Break"). Hamilton begins an affair with Maria Reynolds, making him vulnerable to her husband's blackmail ("Say No To This"). Hamilton, Jefferson, and James Madison create the Compromise of 1790 over a private dinner, exchanging Hamilton's financial plan for placing the country's permanent capital on the Potomac River. Burr is envious of Hamilton's sway in the government and wishes that he had similar power ("The Room Where It Happens"). Burr switches political parties and defeats Philip Schuyler in a race for the Senate, now making Hamilton a rival ("Schuyler Defeated").

In another Cabinet meeting, Jefferson and Hamilton argue over whether the United States should assist France in its conflict with Britain. President Washington ultimately agrees with Hamilton's argument for remaining neutral ("Cabinet Battle #2"). In the wake of this, Jefferson, Madison, and Burr decide to join forces to find a way to discredit Hamilton ("Washington on Your Side"). Washington retires from the presidency after his second term, and Hamilton assists in writing a farewell address ("One Last Time").

A flabbergasted King George receives word that George Washington has stepped down, and will be replaced by Paris signatory John Adams ("I Know Him"). Adams becomes the second President and fires Hamilton, who, in response, publishes an inflammatory critique of the new president ("The Adams Administration"). Jefferson, Madison, and Burr confront Hamilton about James Reynolds's blackmail, accusing him of "[embezzlement of] government funds" ("We Know"). Desperate to salvage his political career by proving that he was merely lustful and not corrupt, Hamilton prophylactically publicizes his affair ("Hurricane") in the Reynolds Pamphlet, which wrecks his own reputation ("The Reynolds Pamphlet") and damages his relationship with Eliza, who, in a heartbroken retaliation, burns all the letters Hamilton wrote her, trying to erase herself from history ("Burn"). After graduating from college, Philip attempts to defend his father's honor in a duel with George Eacker ("Blow Us All Away") but is fatally shot ("Stay Alive (Reprise)"), eventually leading to reconciliation between Alexander and Eliza ("It's Quiet Uptown").

Hamilton's endorsement of Jefferson in the 1800 United States presidential election ("The Election of 1800") results in further animosity between Hamilton and Burr, who challenges Hamilton to a duel via an exchange of letters ("Your Obedient Servant"). Hamilton writes his last letter in a rush while Eliza tells him to go back to bed ("Best of Wives and Best of Women"). Burr and Hamilton travel to New Jersey for the duel. Burr reflects on the moments leading up to the duel, stating that one of them will have to die. Burr and Hamilton walk the requisite ten paces, then Burr fires first, and time freezes as Hamilton reflects on his legacy, before throwing away his shot. Burr shoots him between the ribs and Hamilton dies, mourned by Eliza, Angelica, and the rest of the cast. Burr laments that though he survived, he is cursed to be remembered as the villain who killed Hamilton ("The World Was Wide Enough").

The musical closes with a reflection on historical memory. Jefferson and Madison reflect on Hamilton's legacy, as Eliza tells how she keeps Hamilton's legacy alive through interviewing war veterans, getting help from Angelica, raising funds for the Washington Monument, speaking out against slavery, and establishing the first private orphanage in New York City ("Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story"). As the musical ends with Eliza looking in the direction of the audience, she lets out a tearful gasp.

Cast

Carleigh Bettiol, Ariana DeBose, Hope Easterbrook, Sasha Hutchings, Elizabeth Judd, Austin Smith, and Seth Stewart also appear as ensemble members.

Musical numbers

End Credits

Production

The film is edited together from three performances of Hamilton at the Richard Rodgers Theatre in Midtown Manhattan in June 2016 with the original principal Broadway cast members, prior to the departure of Miranda, Leslie Odom Jr., Phillipa Soo, and Ariana DeBose from the production, combined with a few "setup shots" recorded without an audience present.[10] These shots included numbers that were captured with the use of a Steadicam, crane and dolly.[11] The footage, shot by RadicalMedia, was originally filmed to be spliced into the 2016 documentary Hamilton's America.[12] The film includes a one-minute intermission.[9]

The film features the majority of the original Broadway cast, minus ensemble members Betsy Struxness and Emmy Raver-Lampman who left in March and April 2016 respectively – their roles are performed by Hope Easterbrook and Elizabeth Judd.[13][14] Jonathan Groff, who departed the role of King George III in April and was replaced by Rory O'Malley, returned to the production to reprise his role for the film. He also provides, in character, the voice of the pre-show announcer at the beginning of the film, welcoming the audience to the show.[15]

On February 3, 2020, it was announced that Walt Disney Studios had acquired the worldwide distribution rights for the film for $75 million.[16] Disney successfully outbid multiple competitors, including Warner Bros. Pictures, 20th Century Fox, and Netflix, which had all expressed interest in the film rights.[17] The deal, reportedly one of the most expensive film rights acquisitions,[18] was negotiated by Walt Disney Pictures president Sean Bailey and placed into motion after Disney CEO Bob Iger approached the producers with personal interest in acquiring the film rights.[19][20] The film is produced by Miranda, Jeffrey Seller, and Kail.[10]

Release

The film was originally scheduled for an October 15, 2021 theatrical wide release by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures,[21][22][18] but was later moved up to July 3, 2020, on Disney+, as announced by Disney and Miranda on May 12, 2020[23] in light of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the film industry and the performing arts, which shut down the Broadway, West End, and touring productions. This move was also done to get the film released in time for the Fourth of July weekend, on the 244th anniversary of the independence of the United States.[24]

The film was planned to be released for home media distribution in 2022 after the streaming release.[25][26]

Hamilton received a PG-13 rating by the MPA for "language and some suggestive material".[27] Two instances of the expletive "fuck" were censored to avoid an R rating; a third, partially unfinished one used in "Say No to This" is retained, making it the first film released by Walt Disney Pictures to feature the expletive.[28] A fourth expletive, "motherfucker", used in "The Adams Administration" is also kept in, but is intentionally bleeped for comedic effect as part of the show and its cast album.

A behind-the-scenes documentary about the making of the film, entitled Hamilton In-Depth with Kelley Carter, premiered on The Undefeated and Disney+ the same day as the film. It features journalist Kelley L. Carter hosting a roundtable discussion with Thomas Kail and members of the cast about the musical's origins, its significance in pop culture, and how its story and portrayal of historical events resonate with the modern-day discussions about social injustice and systemic racism.[29]

Reception

Audience viewership

On the weekend of the film's release, the Disney+ app was downloaded 266,084 times, a 72% increase from the past four weeks' total.[30] TV analytics provider, Samba TV reported that 2.7 million U.S. households streamed the film in its first 10 days on Disney+.[31] In August 2020, it was reported that a "staggering" 37.1% of subscribers (about 22 million) had watched the film over its first month (by comparison, the second-largest viewership portion on a platform was Netflix's Unsolved Mysteries with 13.7%).[32] In November, Variety reported the film was the most watched straight-to-streaming title of 2020 up to that point.[33] In December, research firm Screen Engine reported that Hamilton was the second-most watched straight-to-streaming title of 2020 behind HBO Max's Wonder Woman 1984.[34]

Critical response

On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, Hamilton holds an approval rating of 98% based on 202 reviews, with an average rating of 9.1/10. The site's critics consensus reads: "Look around, look around at how beautifully Hamilton shines beyond Broadway – and at how marvelously Thomas Kail captures the stage show's infectious energy."[35] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 90 out of 100, based on 42 critics, indicating "universal acclaim".[36]

Peter Debruge, in his review for Variety, wrote: "For those fortunate enough to see Hamilton on stage, this will be a welcome reminder of being among the first to witness such a revolutionary piece of American theater. And if you couldn't get tickets at the time (some of which fetched more than the value of Cares Act stimulus payments), this 2 1/2-hour release represents an incredible equalizing moment".[37] Justin Chang of the Los Angeles Times wrote "For those of us who have never seen the stage show, and have compensated by spending many happy hours with the soundtrack, it's a particular pleasure to be figuratively ushered into the live Richard Rodgers Theater audience, whose applause you often hear and whose presence you sometimes glimpse in passing. Unaltered from that initial staging, apart from some seamless editing (by Jonah Moran) and the silencing of a few family-unfriendly expletives, this filmed Hamilton is somehow both a four-year-old time capsule and a timely encounter with the present."[38]

Rafer Guzmán of Newsday gave the film 3 stars out of 4, writing "Directed with a steady hand by Thomas Kail, Hamilton doesn't quite capture the electricity of a live performance, though mid-song laughs and cheers can occasionally be heard from the audience (there's also a one-minute intermission). Hamilton will surely return when Broadway does, but for now this document will serve nicely in its stead."[39] David Ehrlich of IndieWire gave the film a grade of A− and said: "This is Hamilton as you always wanted to see it, and it always will be. And with Disney+ releasing it just in time for the Fourth of July, it doubles as a perfect reminder that America is only worth celebrating because of what it aspires to be — the version of it we see in our minds' eye, and not the one that's petrified on the pages of our history books."[40]

David Rooney, in his review for The Hollywood Reporter, praised Kail's directing by writing "The art of the filmed performance has evolved considerably since the days when a camera or two were plonked down at the rim of the stage and the show unfolded as a static theatrical facsimile. Since staging Hamilton, director Thomas Kail has been sharpening his skills on television work like Grease Live! — still by far the best of the recent spate of live TV musicals — and Fosse/Verdon, a striking hybrid of theatrical performance and conventional narrative."[41]

A. O. Scott of The New York Times named the film a "Critic's Pick", praising the timeliness of its release stating "One lesson that the past few years should have taught — or reconfirmed — is that there aren’t any good old days. [...] This four-year-old performance of 'Hamilton,' viewed without nostalgia, feels more vital, more challenging than ever."[42]

Accolades

Following its release and acclaim, there was speculation on whether Hamilton would be eligible for Academy Awards consideration.[43] Major publications pointed to previous instances of Academy Award-nominated films featuring stage recordings, such as Othello (1965) and Give ‘em Hell, Harry (1975), suggesting the possibility of recognition for Hamilton. However, on July 6, 2020, the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences disqualified Hamilton for the 93rd Academy Awards, citing a rule implemented in 1997 that "Recorded stage productions are not eligible for consideration."[44] Disney included Hamilton in its awards consideration campaign and reportedly submitted the film to every organization and award guild, regardless of apparent eligibility.[45] Unlike the Academy, other major organizations that present film awards—such as the Golden Globe Awards and the Screen Actors Guild Awards—have no specific restrictions against filmed theater, and thus recognized the film.[46]

Year Award Category Recipients Result Ref.
2020 People's Choice Awards The Movie of 2020 Hamilton Nominated [47]
The Drama Movie of 2020 Won
The Drama Movie Star of 2020 Lin-Manuel Miranda Won
2021 American Cinema Editors Awards Best Edited Limited Series or Motion Picture for Television Jonah Moran Nominated [48]
American Film Institute Awards AFI Special Award Hamilton Won [49]
Cinema Audio Society Awards Outstanding Achievement in Sound Mixing for Television Non Fiction, Variety or Music – Series or Specials Justin Rathbun, Tony Volante, Rob Fernandez and Tim Latham Won [50]
Costume Designers Guild Awards Excellence in Variety, Reality-Competition, Live Television Paul Tazewell Won [51]
Critics' Choice Television Awards Best Television Movie Hamilton Won [52]
Directors Guild of America Awards Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Movies for Television and Limited Series Thomas Kail Nominated [53]
Golden Globe Awards Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy Hamilton Nominated [54]
Best Actor in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy Lin-Manuel Miranda Nominated
Hollywood Critics Association TV Awards Best Streaming Limited Series, Anthology Series, or Live-Action Television Movie Hamilton Nominated [55]
Best Actor in a Leading Role in a Limited Series, Anthology Series, or Television Movie Leslie Odom Jr. Nominated
Best Actor in a Supporting Role in a Limited Series, Anthology Series, or Television Movie Daveed Diggs Nominated
Golden Reel Awards Outstanding Achievement in Sound Editing – Single Presentation Tony Volante, Dave Paterson, Nevin Steinberg, Dan Timmons and Derik Lee Nominated [56]
Make-Up Artists and Hair Stylists Guild Awards Best Period and/or Character Hair Styling in a Television Special, One Hour or More Live Program Series or Movie for Television Frederick Waggoner Won [57]
NAACP Image Awards Outstanding Television Movie, Mini-Series or Dramatic Special Hamilton Nominated [58]
Outstanding Actor in a Television Movie, Mini-Series or Dramatic Special Daveed Diggs Nominated
Leslie Odom Jr. Nominated
Outstanding Writing in a Television Movie, Mini-Series or Dramatic Special Lin-Manuel Miranda Nominated
Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards Favorite Movie Hamilton Nominated [59]
Favorite Movie Actor Lin-Manuel Miranda Nominated
Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Variety Special (Pre-Recorded) Sander Jacobs, Jill Furman, Thomas Kail, Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jeffrey Seller Won [60]
Outstanding Actor in a Leading Role in a Limited or Anthology Series or Movie Lin-Manuel Miranda Nominated
Leslie Odom Jr. Nominated
Outstanding Actor in a Supporting Role in a Limited or Anthology Series or Movie Daveed Diggs Nominated
Jonathan Groff Nominated
Anthony Ramos Nominated
Outstanding Actress In a Supporting Role in a Limited or Anthology Series or Movie Renée Elise Goldsberry Nominated
Phillipa Soo Nominated
Outstanding Directing for a Limited or Anthology Series or Movie Thomas Kail Nominated
Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards Outstanding Picture Editing for Variety Programming Jonah Moran Nominated
Outstanding Sound Mixing for a Variety Series or Special Tony Volante, Tim Latham and Justin Rathbun Nominated
Outstanding Technical Direction, Camerawork, Video Control for a Special Pat Capone, Jack Donnelly, Bruce MacCallum, Bill Winters, Maceo Bishop, Abby Levine and Joe Belack Won
Producers Guild of America Awards Outstanding Producer of Streamed or Televised Motion Pictures Thomas Kail, Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jeffrey Seller Won [61]
Satellite Awards Best Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical Hamilton Nominated [62]
Best Actor in a Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical Lin-Manuel Miranda Nominated
Leslie Odom Jr. Nominated
Screen Actors Guild Awards Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Television Movie or Limited Series Daveed Diggs Nominated [63]

See also

References

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  1. ^ a b c d e Credited to full company on the original Broadway cast recording.
  2. ^ "Tomorrow There'll Be More of Us", a second reprise to "The Story of Tonight", does not appear on the original Broadway cast recording. Miranda explained that it was "more of a scene than a song, the only scene in the [sung-through] show", and he wanted to reserve the impact of "at least one revelation" that could be experienced more fully onstage.[7]
  3. ^ Previously titled "One Last Ride" in the Off-Broadway production.[8]
  4. ^ "The Reynolds Pamphlet" The song contains a small part of the song "Congratulations" (Off-Broadway).[8]