From a seaplane at sea to the snowscape of Hunter Mountain, the creator of Hamilton hits it out of the park, too
‘This time I got up, tried to express myself honestly’ – Lin-Manuel Miranda on love, self-doubt and ‘Encanto’
Lin-Manuel Miranda had never written a scene that was so recognizable as Latin American children’s song Encanto before. To celebrate its debut, Miranda composed the song – again – for the documentary Encanto!, which explores his early experiences of both Puerto Rico and Hamilton, and his journey from the streets of San Juan to the stage of Broadway.
The musical honours his mother Carmen de Lavallade, who grew up in San Juan, and was deeply influenced by the music of her homeland.
Encanto! is out on DVD on 10 January.
Written in 2007, Encanto! has been a more rarefied view of Miranda’s life in Puerto Rico since its premiere at the Tribeca film festival. While his production team planned and rehearsed the movie with help from Miranda, his own life has found its way to a stage and movie. He won a Tony award for Hamilton, went to meet the president and now has two more in the pipeline: the second for his new musical in a young version of the story inspired by Brooklyn, The Land Of Steady Habits.
He has made time for cinematic storytelling in a way he did not with Hamilton. I’m proud of that,” Miranda told the Guardian. “It might not seem like enough of a reason to commit my life to something else but it was very much part of the appeal of Hamilton for me. You know, what’s more important? The fact that the stories I write always seems to end up on the stage, or I can afford to be good friends with Rihanna or do a campaign for J Mendel or whatever?”
Miranda’s career choices have always been progressive, even in an era that has given up on gender and racial diversity and more or less shut out all female filmmakers. With the help of Hamilton’s creator, that’s not likely to change, but he does take chances.
“Encanto! allows me to do something that I never did before,” he said. “It’s kind of close to closing on Broadway but it’s been a different experience because it’s different from Hamilton.
“You know, if you wrote a song called Coming Home, it would be the same as if you wrote one called San Juan Fade. That was a very different experience for me because it’s not about the names I’m familiar with.
“This time I got up, tried to express myself honestly and now I can’t not be honest about it in writing a second song.”