on April 8, 2004
We showed this movie to our young daughters last night. Prompted by a growing sense of anti-war feelings we're experiencing with the daily reports of growing death tolls in Iraq, we felt it was appropriate. They were rapt. I think it was primarily the music and Twyla Tharp's choreography; however, the girls asked a lot of questions, and I think it gave them a little better understanding of what many teenagers felt during the Viet Nam War.
The movie version of this story is a worthy effort, made great by Milos Forman. The quality is not as I remembered it back when I saw it in the movie theater in 1980. And while our expectations of quality may have changed, our expectations of a good, entertaining film have not. Hair has grown into another generation of viewers who can appreciate it on many levels. It's worth another look.
on December 10, 2003
This was one of the biggest movie surprises of the late 70s. It's absolutely incredible, the scope of a director who can follow up the cramped quarters & pent-up energies of "One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest," with the exlplosion of the psychedelic generation in "Hair." But Milos Forman accomplished just that.
Forman imbues this movie musical with distinctive touches all his own: particularly the dizzying 360-degree spin around the lead singer in the opening "Age Of Aquarius" number; the endearing comedy of the "Black Boys/White Boys" number; protagonist Bukowski's drug initiation in the extended "Hare Krishna" number; and (my very favorite) the unexplainable warmth and human celebration of the "Good Morning, Starshine" number (shot entirely in close-ups and medium shots, in a convertible car!). The emotional lift experienced when the camera finally trucks back from a group of characters we've come to know & love, is beyond words.
Twyla Tharp adds her renowned choreography to all songs; director Forman gave her a free rein on all of them.
This disc has both the formatted & widescreen versions; the latter is obviously preferable.
It'll be fascinating to many who've only been familiar with Treat Williams, John Savage & Beverly D'Angelo through their subsequent work, that they're ALL terrific singers & dancers!
on May 2, 2003
<I>Hair</i> is a movie near to my heart; I saw it when it was released (I was ten) and loved it, enchanted by the music. As an adult I find it still works.
What's remarkable is that Forman created film that has endured out of a stage play that hasn't. Ever wonder why the show hasn't been revived on Broadway? Well, that would be because it's a horrifically grating, plotless mess...
Which is why it's wonderful to hear the really great music, minus the awful book. The movie imposes a simple plot, nothing terribly interesting but totally serviceable. Performances are mostly dead-on, with a fantastic cameo by a young Nell Carter (another by Betty Buckley). Twyla Tharp's sharply lyrical choreography manages to feel completely impromptu and totally intentional. Impressive cinematography makes it a great film to look at, too, especially the devastating shot of soldiers boarding a transport plane at dawn.
Of course, the messy play much better reflects the 60s than this well-ordered film. But which would you rather watch?
on June 23, 2011
Hair is a very enjoyable musical. I love the songs and they have excellent soloists singing some of my favourite songs from the movie. The only extra on the disc is a trailer of the movie. Would have been nice to have some sort of documentary on the making of this film. The sound was excellent DTS 5.1. However the BluRay picture quality was not consistent throughout the movie. Sometimes the picture was very grainy, sometimes very sharp, sometimes out of focus. Overall it was okay. It didn't take away from the enjoyment of the movie but when I buy blu-ray I expect the picture quality to be better than VHS and DVD.
on January 18, 2004
"Hair" boasts one of the most beautiful scores in Broadway history. While the film changes the plot, it keeps most of the songs and even adds some stunning dance numbers.
Set in the 60's, filmed in the late 70's, the film shows its age. Still the amazing score shines. Some of the best numbers include:
*the still popular "Age of Aquarius" and "Let the Sun Shine" both of which became anthems for an era.
*the haunting "Easy to Be Hard," sung by Cheryl Barnes with cutaways of a little boy that will break your heart
*"Good Morning Starshine" sung primarily by Beverly D'Angelo (the Mom in Chevy Chase's Vacation Movies!)
*"Hair" the title song performed by one of the lead singers of the band Chicago
Twyla Tharp, pre her major fame, choreographed much of the movie. It shows.
As for the plot, well it's thin and it has been changed from the play. An Oklahoma boy wanders into Central Park, a few days before he is to ship off to boot camp for Vietnam. He befriends some "hippies," led by Berger "Treat Williams" and falls in love with Sheila (Beverly D'Angelo), a debutante who ride her horse through Central Park. It's all an excuse for the songs-HOWEVER, the final scenes-including one of hundreds of soldiers marching into a plane heading to Vietanm-turn darker and are far more thought provoking.
I would recommend this movie to those individuals who crave 60's entertainment in any form. Also-if you enjoyed "Moulin Rouge," you probably will like this movie.
on February 23, 2003
"Hair" has my top award for being one of the oddest movie musicals ever made. In the tradition of "Rocky Horror," "Hedwig and the Angry Inch," and "Tommy," "Hair" is that rare musical that takes the viewer on a unique and emotional journey, playing with our emotions as we groove to the strange yet totally awesome music. The journey here is the 60's in the midst of the Vietman War and "Hair" wonderfully re-creates the colorful world of the hippie counterculture during that hectic period.
Director Milos Forman brilliantly recreates the turbulent spirit of the 60's and allows the film to take over our soul, and makes us feel for the characters. His directing is simple yet powerful.
Treat Williams (Everwood)makes his leading man debut in one of his earliest film roles, as Berger, the leader of the Central Park troop who take draftee Claude Bukowski (John Savage) under their wing on his first "trip" through New York City.
The songs are quite weird, that's for sure, but the power of the performances, and the brilliant choreography, make them extremely memorable, and quite brilliant. What other movie musical can sing about LSD and the vagina, and still manage to be so raw, powerful, and emotionally charged. The film brims with intense energy and passion and is both captivating, entertaining, and wonderful. "Hair" is a spectacular and underrated motion picture, and one of the best movie musicals I have ever seen. The bittersweet ending definitely packs a punch and lingers in the unconscious after the initial viewing. I was pleasantly surprised by the film and strongly recommend it. LET THE SUNSHINE IN to the Age of AQUARIUS and enjoy!!! "Hair" is definitely a journey worth taking.
on February 21, 2003
I have been a fan of the broadway score since the play's debut. The music in the movie version is exceptional. However, they skipped one of the most enlightening songs based on a Sheakspear monologe caled, "What A Piece of Work Is Man". Ronnie Dyson sang it as a duet on Broadway. The piece of music is so capturing of what that original play was trying to infer about American culture, in fact HUMAN cultures everywhere! But it was not included in the movie. Twyalla (sp?) Tharp's choreography is astondingly beautiful. This movie was release before her career hit the height and you can see why she became so popular. The songs; Ain't Got No, Hair and Aquarius are simply cinimatic beauty. All the voices are really good. And the tripping in the park scene was really good. The reality of the shows untimely release comes from a lot of establishment resistence to the play back in the 1960's. It played so effectively in 1966 and shocked the heck out of a lot of folks, but the thirteen year wait to put it on screen is really too bad. They used to shoot hippies back in the 1960's! The one reviewer is right in that the world is not like that anymore. The fact is it NEVER was like that. The movie sort of drew a picture of that time in American culture and made it okay. The turmoil is missing. Only in San Fransico and New York is very VERY small areas where hippies free to express themselves. Remember too that the Jim Crow laws were alive and the civil rights movement was just gaining steem in 1966. The movie presents a tempered view of those years. But I admit, it is still a fun show to watch! Treat does an admirable job of capturing Burger's naivity and Jon Savage does a good job capturing Claude's innocence. All and all it is a good movie. Good spin!
on February 14, 2003
While I was watching this movie, I felt an overwhelming feeling wash over me: Relief that I was born in the eighties! My prior exposure to the stuff in the sixties was mainly Star Trek and one episode of "Sabrina," which hilariously contained the line "peace, love, and no bathing!" This is one of those nostalgia flicks that only people who want to remember that era fondly will want to watch. Anyone else will be squirming with discomfort. Not because it's "shocking" or in any way "true," but because it is "dated" and "stupid."
It's interesting that a modern teen in 2003 is "squarer" than the people in this movie; it glorifies the absurdly naive hippie lifestyle, something that is roundly mocked by modern young people and most media forms like books and television. All the ordinary people are really, really dumb (in fact, the scriptwriter is so ham-handed that he has Claude's dad happily identifying both of them as "ignorant"). All the hippies are obnoxious, thieving, drug-addled, and sleep around indiscriminitely (I'm supposed to be thrilled that Jeannie doesn't know who her baby's dad is? Why is that? Why should I think it's great? I think that kid is going to need massive amounts of therapy). I have no reason to like anyone -- either they're gun-crazed, mucho-macho warmongers, or they're peace-lovin' types who dump their ex-girlfriends (who have their kids), steal cars, steal a skinny-dipping girl's clothes just to be mean, crash a private party, cause riots, always sound like they're stoned... tell me, why should I like these freaks?
They're also so smug and self-righteous, acting like anyone who disagrees is somehow an enemy. Especially soldiers -- soldiers are not indiscriminite killing machines, as the movie tries to paint them. They are pretty much ordinary guys who believe in doing what they must to protect their homes; without them and their "evil killing," then those hippies wouldn't have had the freedom to condemn them.
Plus, it's not really accessible to people today because of the whole hippie attitude in it. I mean, we've seen what happened to people like that -- they either became "square" or they died. Now there's venereal disease, aging brain-burned citizens, and they've had kids who (at the age they were at the time) would kill them if they acted or spoke as they did in this movie.
And far be it from me to wave the banner of political correctness, but as someone who grew up in more-or-less colorblind surroundings, some of the songs (the ones referring to African-Americans) made me rather queasy. The acid trip that Claude has is weird, and I don't mean that in a good way. I mean weird as in totally unrealistic. I'm not offended by the drug glorification, I just think it's insanely stupid. (And disdain is a far more potent force than hate, I can tell you that)
Maybe to enjoy this, you need to be on acid. It might make a little more sense. And contrary to what many nostalgic fans of "Hair" have said, it doesn't apply to modern teens -- just them, when they were young. We're smarter, more realistic, less idealistic, and we know the risks. Too bad the people this movie appeals to didn't. It's dated, dumb, and should be left to collect dust.
on October 23, 2002
I'm afraid I must qualify this by saying I have never seen a stage production of Hair. The DVD is my only source of knowledge about the songs, plot, and characters. I've told you this because I like disclaimers about what I know-it's part of my style. But, that's as may be.
Now, Hair. The late sixties hippy-Vietnam stage musical, translated into a late seventies hippy-Vietnam nostalgic film musical by the director of the brilliant Amadeus. The camera work and visuals are memorable. The best example is at the end, where soldiers enter the plane that will take them to Vietnam. The image of them marching up the ramp, as if it were the mouth of a terrible beast, cannot fail to move anyone who does not see the image. Hare Krishna, on the other hand, is all that I imagine taking drugs would be like, only with a church and fire. In fact, Hair features more impressive images then I can describe here without taking up space for other notes of interest.
However, the most important part of almost any musical is the songs and dances; and they are excellent. Although the songs are the same as those in the play, the rendition of them can't be complained about. As I may have mentioned, I never saw the play. But, on the stage, does Berger dance on the table when he sings "I Got Life"? I thought not.
And speaking of dancing on the tables, the dancing isn't bad either. Not all the songs are choreographed; however, those that are gain from both the choreography and the scene work. The opening, Age of Aquarius, loses no energy while gaining clothing; the title song cuts between a jerky (yet effective) jail fight and the singing characters; and the Melody of Dying Men, the climax, does more with people walking in a straight line then many could do with infinite range of motion. Though, to be fair, that's mainly due to the incredible camera work mentioned above. You couldn't find more great shots if you found that it's groovy to hide in a movie with Dennis... Sorry. The songs are just so good.
Really, the only complaint I can give is the DVD itself. It's a typical "old film" DVD that adds nothing to the VHS besides a (really bad) trailer, subtitles, and the ability to jump scenes. At least it only counts the first two as features; you know you're in trouble if your DVD box considers the menu itself important. It's sort of sad that they couldn't dredge up more stuff for the DVD: it ain't got no foreign language tracks, ain't got no commentary, ain't got no documentary, ain't got no features, ain't got no bonus.
There are a few quibbles I can make about the movie (how is Claude a Nebraskan and from Manchester?) but the director's need to create a new plot while keeping the great music, causes many of them. I forgive him-lots of films have great plots and lousy execution, and the reverse is preferable. And while Claude isn't the most interesting of people, the movie really isn't about him so much as it is about sixties culture and good times, man.
There is really no way for one person's text to convince you of the quality of a movie; your only option is to just go and see it. And let the Sun Shine in.
on September 18, 2002
The Age of Aquarius
The motion picture version of Hair is different from the more common theatrical version, which is still preformed today. This said, I feel that what it looses in being on a screen it makes up for in the benefit of real backdrops from rural farms to New York City. On screen musicals are unfamiliar to the younger audiences such as myself, but the songs are quite funny and the music is excellent. It is easy to enjoy the movie, including the songs if one accepts the parody involved. The movie is not all singing and dancing, there are numerous very serious moments, the most of which being the ending.
I thoroughly enjoyed the film. It was fun to picture my parents listening to those songs, dressed up like freaks. I felt that the movie dealt with the youth movement of the 60's well. The feelings and morals of the youth were expressed quite accurately, even if the events of the plot were less than realistic. I would recommend anyone who is curious about what the 60's were like, or anyone down for a good laugh to go see Hair.
One aspect of the movie I particularly liked was their opposition to the Vietnam War, and how they try to keep Claude from going to join the army. When Claude said "I'm going to fight for you" and is told "If that's why your doing it then don't because if it was the other way around I wouldn't do it for you" you really understand why they didn't want to see their friends go halfway around the world to die.
Although no one of the characters was exactly like me, I did feel that I related to George Burger the most. He acted ridiculous, but he knew that he was ridiculous. And he was always straight forward, when he wanted something, like the rich kid's car, he takes it. ...
I believe the films main message about youth culture was that of the youth movement of the 60's. They are anti-materialistic, in the beginning they beg for change, and then use it to rent a horse for an hour instead of buying food. [they] ...are defiant of authority; they sneak into a fancy party and then get arrested instead of leaving when told. And they are opposed to the war in Vietnam, the curly haired girl offers to marry Claude because she is pregnant and he wouldn't have to go.
As a whole, if you ignore the songs, the film captured the realities of teenage life in the 60's quite well. Unfortunately for me, the 60's were 40 years ago and life is not as it was in the days of Hair. Nonetheless this movie's depiction of teenage life and youth culture remains relevant, especially as our government now is heading in a similar direction as it did then. If the US goes to war with Iraq, we will be fighting two different wars with ground troops in two different foreign countries. If they last for a long time as they may, it is possible a draft would be instituted, at which point we would see just how relevant the youth movement is. There would be protest and widespread distrust of authority figures just as there was in the 60's. Let's all just hope that today's youth, generation Y or whatever you want to call them, doesn't have to follow in this aspect of their parents footsteps.