Ben Oliver

Now
Hamilton/
film

Hamilton

If it takes fighting a war for us to meet, it will have been worth it.
04 July 2020

A live recording of the hit rap musical about Alexander Hamilton, a founding father of the United States.

It’s hard for me to be objective here because I found this musical to be profoundly irritating from start to finish. It’s like someone skim reading a Wikipedia page in rhyming couplets.

On a technical level you can’t fault Hamilton though—it’s one of the better live recordings of a musical I’ve seen. There’s real direction rather than static cameras and director Thomas Kail shows his instinct for when to come in tight versus when to sit back.

As a musical, personal allergic reactions aside, I still don’t really see the appeal. It’s a smug, monotonous and shallow piece of work that shows no desire to develop its characters beyond “here’s a song about how cool this guy is”. At one point Hamilton meets his wife, they instantly marry, then 2 minutes later her sister professes her love for him before leaving. It’s a slap dash attitude that we see throughout.

Worse still, it ignores the fact that the revolution involved killing millions of native Americans. It ignores slavery aside from one throwaway line. These are the things that the founding fathers leveraged to build the United States. Perhaps this is seeing the musical (written around 2015) through a 2020 lens, but Hamilton paints a pretty picture of a violent and often tragic time.

I’m disappointed that this is what all the fuss was about.