Three years in the making, “Hamilton’s America” finally debuts on PBS Friday night. The documentary is a deft telling of two stories — that of Alexander Hamilton, one of the founding fathers who was the first Secretary of the Treasury, and Lin-Manuel Miranda, the creator and star of the Broadway hit musical “Hamilton.” And critics are hailing this 84-minute film by Miranda’s fellow Wesleyan College alum Alex Horwitz.
“Hamilton’s America” is presented as part of the “Great Performances” series. Previous installments of this long-running arts anthology which have won 29 Emmy awards in total for a range of technical and creative achievements. And with reviews like those excerpted below, expect “Hamilton’s America” to add to that tally.
David Rooney (Hollywood Reporter): “It digs deep into the ways in which the musical has rescued its subject, Alexander Hamilton, from relative obscurity, reaffirming his legacy as the principal architect of the American economic model that remains in place today. Using sharp graphic animations that draw on period etchings, the film offers as much fodder for history and political students as it does for theater and music fans.”
Owen Gleiberman (Variety): “‘Hamilton’s America’ captures every stage of how the show exploded as a cultural phenomenon: its triumphant move from the Public Theater to the Richard Rogers Theater on Broadway (where crowds pack the streets as if gawking at royalty), its entrance into popular culture with the aid of bedazzled fans like Jimmy Fallon, and its arrival at the White House, where Miranda and company give a plain-clothes performance heralded by a visibly ecstatic Michelle Obama.”
Liz Rafferty (TV Guide): In the midst of an election cycle that can be described as messy at best, Hamilton’s America is a hopeful, entertaining reminder that U.S. politics were once great – and many of the issues the founding fathers grappled with are issues that are still being debated today. As one person in the documentary says, the cool thing about history is that we don’t realize it’s “history” when we’re all just living through it.
Don Aucoin (Boston Globe): “The documentary sets up but wisely does not overemphasize the parallels between the birth pains of an emerging musical and those of an emerging nation. Miranda comes across as thoughtful, eloquent, modest, and more than a bit stunned by the blockbuster success of his creation.”