Why is the piece Hamilton so successful

Criticism from the FILMSTARTS editorial team

The musical sensation now at Disney +

By Christoph Petersen
The news has only just made the rounds that the theaters on New York's Broadway will not reopen their doors until early 2021 at the earliest - and even that is not a foregone conclusion. For everyone who likes the musical megahit "Hamilton“Want to see live, however, the prospects have only deteriorated slightly with the closure - after all, even before Corona, it was almost impossible to get a ticket for the Richard Rodgers Theater.

Since its Broadway debut in August 2015, "Hamilton" has pulverized one box-office record after the next - not to mention the record nominations for the Tony Award (the theater equivalent of the Oscars). Disney put an incredible $ 75 million on the table for the musical recording, which was made in 2016 with the no longer active original cast - a record not only for a concert film, but the highest amount ever for a film that has already been completed was paid.

Alexander Hamilton (Lin-Manuel Miranda) and his constant rival Aaron Burr (Leslie Odom Jr.).

But all these successes seem even more incredible when you consider what the piece is actually about: Do you know off the cuff who Fritz Schäffer was? Would you watch a musical about him? Probably not. The CSU politician was the first finance minister of the Federal Republic of Germany - and thus quasi “our” Alexander Hamilton, who served from 1789 to 1793 under George Washington as the first finance minister of the newly founded United States of America.

Thanks to his rhetorical skills, the orphan boy Alexander Hamilton (Lin-Manuel Miranda), who came to New York from the Caribbean in 1776, became one of the faces of the revolution. After the war against the British occupiers, in which he served as the right-hand man of Commander-in-Chief George Washington (Chris Jackson), Hamilton also became the first US Treasury Secretary under Washington: in return for his plan to build a pan-American banking system, he agreed to to relocate the US capital from the northern states to the southern states ...

History lesson à la Eminem

The composer, author and leading actor Lin-Manuel Miranda, who has been celebrated as a genius since "Hamilton" and has also risen to superstar outside the Broadway bubble, was not only inspired by the politician biography "Alexander Hamilton" by Ron Chernow - but also from Aaron Sorkin's White House series "The West Wing", from which he even adopted several dialogues almost directly into his songs.

That sounds like the niche vision of a history nerd or an off-off Broadway production for a very special interested audience. But puff pie: With his hip-hop history lesson, in which congress debates are fought out as if they were a rap battle in “8 Mile”, Miranda and his “color-blind” cast not only hit the zeitgeist, but also one of the most thrilling stage experiences created at all.

Alexander Hamilton and his wife Eliza (Phillipa Soo).

Even if the mix of hip-hop, R&B, pop and soul always includes classic show tunes, even those who don't like musicals should give it another try. Whereby you should have at least a rudimentary idea of ​​the historical background - otherwise you might miss the delicious tips in the hilarious songs of the sorry King George III. (Jonathan Groff) or the snappy swipes in the rap battles with Thomas Jefferson (Daveed Diggs).

Thomas Kail, the original director of the musical, was responsible for directing the recording himself. Technically, as expected, there is absolutely nothing to complain about. With filmed stage performances you often experience that the director uses close-ups too often in order to create an emotionality that he apparently does not trust the play itself - but Kail knows the play and he knows what kind of reactions it triggers every evening. That's why there are such “zoomed in” intimate moments only with some quieter songs, while overall he has no problem at all with showing us the whole stage again and again and letting the piece speak for itself.

Moved forward more than a year

The film was actually not supposed to be released until October 2021 - and since the end of the "Hamilton" hype is still not in sight, it would certainly have made a lot of money at the box office. The film is now being released directly on Disney + more than a year earlier. That certainly has to do with the fact that the Broadway theaters are closed and that you are therefore not competing with the streaming evaluation yourself.

In contrast to "Artemis Fowl", in which Disney seized the opportunity to quietly push the sure fantasy flop off to Disney +, "Hamilton" still turns out to be a joyful gift for the subscribers. Finally you can see the piece that everyone is already talking about without paying a proud four-digit sum on the ticket black market.

Conclusion: Of course, a recording can never replace the original. But even in front of the television you get so much goose bumps that you can hardly imagine what the on-site audience must have been like.

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