Feed into Your ‘Hamilton’ Obsession With These Other Movie Musicals

Les Miserables
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It’s been less than a week since #Hamilfilm came out, and fans are already dying for more. Though it’s unclear if Lin-Manuel Miranda will ever release an official film version of Hamilton, there are still some movies like Hamilton to feed our theater addition as we sing “My Shot” on repeat for the rest of our lives.

Hamilton premiered on Broadway in January 2015. The musical—a fictionalization of the life and career of United States Founding Father Alexander Hamilton—went on to win 11 Tonys, a Pulitzer Prize and earn millions of dollars at the box office. On June 3, 2020, theater lovers across the country were able to watch Hamilton from their living rooms after Disney+ released a filmed version of a 2016 performance of the musical starring its original cast. Though fans are hopeful that Hamilton will one day be adapted for the big screen like other Broadway musicals, creator Lin-Manuel Miranda—who starred in and wrote the music, lyrics and book for Hamilton—isn’t too sure a cinematic version of the show is in its future.

“I don’t love a lot of movie musicals based on shows, because it’s hard to stick the landing…I don’t know what a cinematic version of Hamilton looks like. If I had, I’d have written it as a movie,” he told Variety in June 2020.

That said, there are some movie musicals out there that have slight similarities to Hamilton that are worth a watch if you’re obsessed with the show. Check them out ahead.

Les Misérables (2012)

Les Miserables

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Les Misérables premiered on Broadway in 1987. A film version of the musical, starring Anne Hathaway, Russell Crowe, Hugh Jackman and Amanda Seyfried, premiered in movie theaters in 2012 and went on to win three Oscars, including Best Supporting Actress for Hathaway. The musical, a stage adaptation of Victor Hugo’s 1982 novel of the same title, is set in 19th-century France and tells the story of Jean Valjean, a French peasant, who spends 19 years in jail for stealing a loaf of bread for his sister’s starving child. After his time in jail, Jean and other characters are swept into a French revolution to overthrow the government. Many Broadway fans cite Les Misérables as an inspiration for Hamilton in terms of motif and musical composition. (Both musicals are also set during a revolutionary war.)

Hamilton borrows very heavily from the Les Misérables musical in its composition, using the technique of leitmotif, which 19th century composer Richard Wagner is famous for. Every character and idea has its own musical theme or series of notes that stands for them. These are called leitmotifs,” one Reddit user writes.

Evita (1996)

Evita

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Written by musical theater legend Andrew Lloyd Weber, Evita premiered on Broadway in 1979. In 1996, a film version of the musical hit theaters with Madonna as the titular character. (Madonna also went on to win a Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Motion Picture Comedy or Musical for the film adaptation.) The musical follows the life, rise to power and death of Eva Perón, an Argentine political leader and the second wife of Argentine President Juan Perón. Broadway fans have also cited Andrew Lloyd Weber’s early work as inspirations for Hamilton. Specifically, fans note the similarities between Evita and Hamilton’s storylines about an unknown in politics who rises in power.

Evita is even about an ambitious nobody from a Latin-American country who through extreme resilience and perseverance ends up situated right next to the president before dying tragically. All while being narrated by their political enemy,” a Reddit user writes.

Into the Woods (2014)

Into the Woods

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Written by Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine, Into the Woods intertwines the plots of several Brothers Grimm and Charles Perrault fairytales—such as “Cinderella,” “Rapunzel,” “Little Red Riding Hood” and “Jack and the Beanstalk”—into a fantastical musical about different characters’ wishes and wishes and quests. A film adaptation of the musical starring Meryl Streep, Anna Kendrick and Emily Blunt premiered in 2014 and went on to receive three Oscar nominations. Many Broadway fans note similarities in how both Hamilton and Into the Woods have drastically darker second acts in contrast to their lighter first acts. If this is one of the reasons that you were into Hamilton, Into the Woods may be worth a watch.

Jesus Christ Superstar (1973)

Jesus Christ Superstar

Image: Universal/Robert Stigwood/Kobal/Shutterstock.

The film version of Jesus Chris Superstar had mixed reviews when it premiered in 1973, but fans still point to the rock opera—which premiered on Broadway in 1971—as an inspiration for Hamilton in terms of its structure. The musical, which has no spoken dialogue, documents the life of Jesus through rock music, from his arrival to his crucifixion. “Hamilton draws a lot from Andrew Lloyd Webber’s early work, most particularly Jesus Christ Superstar and Evita. Both have prominent structural and dramatic similarities,” a Reddit user writes.

West Side Story (1961)

West Wide Story

Image: United Artists/Kobal/Shutterstock.

West Side Story, written by Stephen Sondheim, premiered on Broadway in 1957. The musical is seen as a modern retelling of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet because of its story about two teenagers from opposing sides of two New York street gangs who fall in love. The musical was made into a film starring Rita Moreno and Natalie Wood in 1961, and the adaptation went on to win 10 Oscars out of the 11 it was nominated for. Lin-Manuel Miranda, Hamilton‘s creator, also worked on the revival of West Side Story in 2009.

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