Lin Manuel Miranda’s hip-hop and history infused biography of Alexander Hamilton is the hottest thing to hit the stage in decades, selling thousands of albums and commanding ticket prices that are the envy of Broadway. The hit musical is based on the best-selling book by Ron Chernow, a hefty tome chronicling the incredible life and achievements of one of the United States most iconic and accomplished leaders. Both have received accolades in the press, as well as endorsements from celebrities and peers.
But if you, like me, neither have the funds for a ticket nor the time to immerse yourself in the hundreds of pages required to enjoy either of these, the History Channel has you covered with their new documentary Hamilton: Building America. Exploring the political and financial institutions he helped put in motion through reenactments and interviews with Chernow, Tom Brokaw, and Maria Bartiromo, this documentary is a crash course in the life of one of the most influential men in US history.
The film covers a lot of ground in such a brief run-time, from Hamilton’s early days as an immigrant to his death at the hands of one of his long-time rivals, of which he had many. It shows his burgeoning love of finance as a young man, and where this fascination would eventually lead him; the creation of the U.S. Mint and Wall Street.
Detailing the relationship and mutual devotion between Hamilton and our country’s first President from the Revolutionary War until the latter’s second term and beyond, this film gives us a look into Hamilton’s longstanding friendship that was mutually beneficial to them both in instituting traditions that have become the core of our democracy. It also details his rivalries with Aaron Burr and Benjamin Franklin, as well as the indiscretion that almost ruined him. Alexander Hamilton was a complicated man, and this film details his dedication to his country, sometimes above all else.
While not as exciting as the musical, nor as all-encompassing as the book, Hamilton: Building America is an entertaining and educational look at the life of a man who was intrinsic in shaping this nation. And it won’t break the bank, or give you a paper cut.
Hamilton: Building America is available on Digital HD now and DVD on November 14th.