‘Hamilton’ makes a successful transition to the big screen

“Hamilton” is now streaming on Disney Plus. Courtesy of Disney
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Updated 04 July 2020

‘Hamilton’ makes a successful transition to the big screen

CHENNAI: Cinema sometimes looks to go back to its roots. Some years ago, European auteurs like Lars Von Trier, Thomas Vinterberg and others introduced “Dogme 95” as a new form of moviemaking, which meant using no props, no artificial lighting and no makeup. It did not last long. However, Thomas Kail’s “Hamilton” — released to coincide with the Fourth of July and streaming on Disney Plus — is another experiment that reminded me of the very early days of motion pictures when some directors in India captured a stage play with a static camera and then screened it in remote regions, where it was not feasible to cart the entire cast.

Kail used six cameras to shoot what was originally a theatrical production. Over two nights in 2016, he filmed the play with most of the actors, including Tony Award winners, who were in the stage version. Every attempt has been made to make it look cinematic, with impeccable camerawork and editing. There is a bonus here. The movie enables you to be a front-bencher at Richard Rogers’ stage production. This closeness that allows you to see clearly the expressions of the actors establishes an intimacy between the audience and the cast.

Inspired by Ron Chernow’s 2004 biography of Alexander Hamilton, the 160-minute show makes a fabulous musical. The release of the film with its intentionally diverse cast comes at a critical time when race relations in the USA have hit the rock bottom. When Aaron Burr (Leslie Odom Jr) sings that he wants to be in “the room where it happens”, the lyrics are sung by a black man.

Alexander Hamilton (played by Lin-Manuel Miranda, also the creator of the piece) is the least well known of the American founding fathers. An immigrant and orphan, he was George Washington’s right-hand man. Credited as being responsible for setting up the country’s banking system, Hamilton was killed in a duel by Burr.




The musical is inspired by Ron Chernow’s 2004 biography of Alexander Hamilton. Courtesy of Disney

The story is narrated through hip-hop beats. Thomas Jefferson (Daveed Diggs) sings his speech to Congression, and the debates he has with Alexander Hamilton are verbalized through lyrics. Hamilton also has a lot to say about America’s immigrant past. In one scene French aristocrat Marquis de Lafayette tells Alexander, “Immigrants, we get the job done!”

Performances are top notch. Miranda is superb, and evokes an immediate connection between the film and the viewer. King George III is brilliantly portrayed by Jonathan Groff, and Hamilton’s wife, Eliza (Philippa Soo), is an endearing presence who has a calming effect on her often ruffled and troubled husband.

“Hamilton” is a great, if subjective, account of early American political history for those not familiar with that period. It must be said, however, the musical makes a long movie, which might be a trifle tiring for those not used to this format.


Lebanese it girls Nathalie Fanj and Nour Arida join protests in Beirut

Updated 47 min 6 sec ago

Lebanese it girls Nathalie Fanj and Nour Arida join protests in Beirut

DUBAI: On Saturday, thousands took to the streets of Beirut’s Martyrs’ Square in anger to protest against Lebanon’s leaders following the devastating, mushroom-shaped explosion on Aug. 4 that killed over 150, wounded thousands, and left hundreds of thousands homeless. 

Among the protestors was Lebanese fashion blogger and fashion week Dior Beauty ambassador Nathalie Fanj, who documented the demonstrations, which took place not far from the blast site, on her Instagram Stories.

Fanj, who earlier this week wrote she was “devastated” and “scared for her kids” following the deadly blast, posted clips of protesters holding up the Lebanese flag and carrying signs demanding an international investigation against the government that seemingly allowed a stockpile of explosive material to sit unattended at their port for more than six years, only to explode on Tuesday with such power that it was felt more than 120 miles away in Cyprus.

Nathalie Fanj joined protests in Beirut’s Martyrs’ Square on Saturday. (Instagram)

Fanj also reported to her 855,000 Instagram followers that the authorities were allegedly firing at the protesters.

“We were not armed, protesting peacefully and they shot at us and it wasn’t rubber bullets!” she alleged in her Stories. “They were firing at us! As if we’re the corrupt ones stealing and killing!”

Among the protestors demanding justice for the lives lost due to government negligence was model and actress Nour Arida. The model also shared pictures and clips from the demonstrations on her Instagram Stories.

“Today we were in the streets to get back this little angel’s rights,” wrote Arida on Instagram alongside a series of images of the protests and a photo of Alexandra, the 3-year-old girl, who passed away during the blast.

Lebanese model Nour Arida was also among the demonstrators demanding change. (Instagram)

Dubai-based fashion influencer Karen Wazen reposted one of Arida’s images of the demonstrators in Beirut and captioned it: “Every expat is there today in spirit. We want our Lebanon back.” 

Lebanese fine jewelry designer, Ralph Masri, whose pieces are beloved by Celine Dion, also shared footage of protestors gathered in Martyrs’ Square on his social media platform. The designer, whose atelier was destroyed during the blast, wrote there was “no going back.”

A number of public figures are showing solidarity for the Lebanese people. Amal and George Clooney recently donated $100,000 to Lebanese charities, while British hitmaker Dua Lipa urged her 50.1 million Instagram followers to help by donating blood.