Remarks at the Hamilton screening, September 9, 2020

Man speaking in front of large backdrop reading Disney
Ambassador Howery at the screening of musical movie Hamilton

Thank you, ladies and gentlemen, for joining me at this exclusive screening of Hamilton, possibly the biggest Broadway hit in recent years.  I’d particularly like to welcome State Secretary Karin Wallensteen, British Ambassador Judith Gough, and newly arrived French Ambassador Etienne de Gonneville.  I love the idea of sharing this masterpiece about the birth of American democracy with Swedish friends as we prepare to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Sweden’s democracy next year. And, as you’ll see, the French played an important role in the U.S. Revolutionary War, even before they achieved democracy themselves.  Of course, the British are cast as the villain in this chapter of U.S. history, but, Judith, I’m glad there are no hard feelings and that U.S.-UK relations are fundamentally different now!  It’s great to have you all join us.

Hamilton is the story of one of the Founding Fathers of the United States, Alexander Hamilton, a key figure in the American Revolution and in the formation of the United States.  As you are about to see, he is perhaps best known for his authorship of a majority of The Federalist Papers, a collection of 85 essays in support of the ratification of the new U.S. Constitution, which sought to strengthen the United States after the previous Articles of Confederation proved unequal to the task.  The Federalist Papers are considered a classic of Western political thought, and if you are lucky, you might even leave here tonight with a copy.

Sweden is mentioned in Essay 22, although I confess more as a cautionary tale than a model, given that these events predate Sweden’s democracy by almost 150 years.  I’ll leave it to the curious to explore that reference more. I suspect, however, that prior to the American musical’s amazing success, most Swedes associated the name Hamilton with the fictional Swedish spy Carl Hamilton, created by the Swedish author Jan Guillou.  Had it not been for Ron Chernow’s bestselling 2004 biography and the play it inspired, America’s first Treasury Secretary and the founder of the U.S. financial system and U.S. Coast Guard, seemed destined to fade into obscurity.  Miranda’s musical has illustrated for us, in a most entertaining way, Alexander Hamilton’s key role in building the United States into a more perfect union.

Hamilton, however, is not just a story about the formation of a government. It is also a story of hope. It is a story that celebrates the ability of an individual to overcome inconceivable challenges, and the crucial contributions of immigrants to the United States.  It is the story of the American Dream.  I believe the musical’s astonishing success is due in no small part to the fact that it reflects so many of the ideals upon which the United States of America is founded and that we all hold dear today. In the play, Hamilton says, “There’s a million things I haven’t done; just you wait!” I think that encapsulates well the U.S.-Swedish partnership. We have done so much together and have much more to do.  Our two countries share so many common values, and I am so pleased we have the opportunity to see this film, this story, together.

Hamilton, of course, is about a historical figure and his astonishing rise, but the movie has a history of its own. The film is comprised of footage from three performances of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s award-winning musical from the Richard Rodgers Theatre in midtown Manhattan in June 2016. It features the majority of the original Broadway cast. In February of this year, Walt Disney Studios obtained the worldwide distribution rights for the film and it was originally scheduled to be released in theaters in the fall of 2021. However, Disney decided to unveil this fantastic performance earlier than planned to bring some joy and light during these challenging times. It was released in the United States on July 3rd on Disney Plus and will be available on Disney Plus in Sweden September 15th, but I am happy to share this sneak preview with you all tonight. I hope you enjoy it as much as I have.

Of course, we wouldn’t be here tonight if not for the generosity of the Walt Disney Company, which gave us early access to this master piece. It is now my pleasure to turn the podium over to Aurora Stark, Director of Corporate Communications at Walt Disney Company Nordic, for a few remarks.  Aurora, over to you.

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Thank you, Aurora, for those inspiring remarks. And now, after a short safety announcement from our projectionist, let’s sit back and enjoy this fascinating trip through American history so brilliantly adapted by Lin-Manuel Miranda.  It’s time for Hamilton!