Hair (film)

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Hair
Hairmovieposter.jpg
Theatrical release poster by Bill Gold
Directed by Miloš Forman
Produced by Michael Butler
Lester Persky
Screenplay by Michael Weller
Based on Hair 
by Gerome Ragni and James Rado
Starring John Savage
Treat Williams
Beverly D'Angelo
Music by Galt MacDermot
Cinematography Miroslav Ondříček
Edited by Alan Heim
Stanley Warnow
Distributed by United Artists
Release dates
  • March 14, 1979 (1979-03-14)
Running time 121 minutes[1]
Country United States
Language English
Budget $11 million
Box office $15,284,643

Hair is a 1979 musical war comedy-drama and film adaptation of the 1968 Broadway musical of the same name about a Vietnam war draftee who meets and befriends a tribe of long-haired hippies on his way to the army induction center. The hippies introduce him to their environment of marijuana, LSD, unorthodox relationships and draft dodging.

The film was directed by Miloš Forman, who was nominated for a César Award for his work on the film. Cast members include Treat Williams, John Savage, Beverly D'Angelo, Don Dacus, Annie Golden, Dorsey Wright, Nell Carter, Cheryl Barnes, Richard Bright, Ellen Foley and Charlotte Rae. Dance scenes were choreographed by Twyla Tharp and performed by the Twyla Tharp Dance Foundation. The film was nominated for Golden Globe Awards for Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy and New Star of the Year in a Motion Picture (for Williams).

Plot[edit]

Claude Hooper Bukowski, an Oklahoma farm boy, heads to New York City to enter the Army and serve in the Vietnam War. In Central Park, he meets a troupe of free-spirited hippies led by George Berger, a young man who introduces him to debutante Sheila Franklin when they crash a dinner party at her home. Inevitably, Claude is sent off to recruit training in Nevada, but Berger and his band of merry pranksters - including Woof Daschund, LaFayette "Hud" Johnson, and pregnant Jeannie Ryan - follow him to give a sendoff. They are met at the base's main gate by a surly MP, who doesn't like their looks and demands that they leave. Accordingly, Sheila flirts with an off-duty Sergeant in order to steal his uniform, which she gives to Berger. He uses it to extract Claude from the base for a last meeting with Sheila, taking his place. However, while Claude is away, the unit is suddenly rallied and flown out to Vietnam; Berger, whose ruse is somehow never detected, is taken with them. The film ends with the main cast singing at Berger's grave, followed by scenes of a large anti-war protest outside the White House in Washington, DC.

Cast[edit]

Differences from original version[edit]

The plot is greatly changed in the film. In the musical, Claude is a member of a hippie "Tribe" sharing a New York apartment, leading a bohemian lifestyle, enjoying "free love" and rebelling against his parents and the draft; but he eventually goes to Vietnam. In the film, Claude is rewritten as an innocent draftee from Oklahoma, newly arrived in New York to join the military. In New York, he gets caught up with the group of hippies while awaiting being sent to Army training camp. They introduce him to their psychedelically inspired style of living, and eventually drive to Nevada to visit him at a training camp. In the musical, Sheila is also an outspoken feminist leader of the Tribe who loves Berger and also Claude. In the film, she is a high-society debutante who catches Claude's eye. In the film, Berger is not only at the heart of the hippie Tribe but is assigned some of Claude's conflict involving whether or not to obey the draft. A major plot change in the film involves a mistake that leads Berger to go to Vietnam in Claude's place, where he is killed. The musical focuses on the U.S. peace movement, as well as the love relationships among the Tribe members, while the film focuses on the carefree antics of the hippies.[2]

The film omits the songs "The Bed", "Dead End", "Oh Great God of Power", "I Believe in Love", "Going Down", "Air", "My Conviction", "Abie Baby", "Frank Mills", and "What a Piece of Work is Man" from the musical. The latter five songs were originally recorded for the film, but were eventually cut, as they slowed the pace of the film. They can be found on the motion picture soundtrack album, although they were omitted on the 1990 reissue. A few verses from the songs "Manchester, England" and a small portion of "Walking in Space" have been removed. While the songs "Don't Put It Down" and "Somebody to Love" are not sung by characters in the film, they are both used as background or instrumental music for scenes at the army base. A new song written by MacDermot for the film is "Somebody to Love". There are several other differences from songs in the movie and as they appear on the soundtrack, mainly in omitted verses and different orchestrations. One notable difference is that the Broadway version used only a jazz combo while the movie soundtrack boasts orchestrations that make ample use of full horn and string sections.[3] Many of the songs have been shortened, sped up, rearranged, or assigned to different characters to allow for the differences in plot.

Reaction[edit]

Gerome Ragni and James Rado, who wrote the original musical along with composer Galt MacDermot, were unhappy with the film adaptation, saying it failed to capture the essence of Hair in that hippies were portrayed as "oddballs" and "some sort of aberration" without any connection to the peace movement.[2] They stated: "Any resemblance between the 1979 film and the original Biltmore version, other than some of the songs, the names of the characters, and a common title, eludes us."[2] In their view, the screen version of Hair has not yet been produced.[2]

Nevertheless, the film received generally favorable reviews from film critics at the time of its release; it currently holds a 93% "fresh" rating on review aggregate website Rotten Tomatoes.[4] Writing in The New York Times, Vincent Canby called it "a rollicking musical memoir.... [Michael] Weller's inventions make this Hair seem much funnier than I remember the show's having been. They also provide time and space for the development of characters who, on the stage, had to express themselves almost entirely in song.... The entire cast is superb.... Mostly... the film is a delight."[5] Frank Rich said the "if ever a project looked doomed, it was this one" (referring to the "largely plotless" and dated musical upon which it was based, Forman's and Tharp's lack of movie musical experience, the "largely unproven cast" and the film's "grand budget"); in spite of these obstacles, "Hair succeeds at all levels—as lowdown fun, as affecting drama, as exhilarating spectacle and as provocative social observation. It achieves its goals by rigorously obeying the rules of classic American musical comedy: dialogue, plot, song and dance blend seamlessly to create a juggernaut of excitement. Though every cut and camera angle in Hair appears to have been carefully conceived, the total effect is spontaneous. Like the best movie musicals of the '50s (Singin' in the Rain) and the '60s (A Hard Day's Night), Hair leaps from one number to the next. Soon the audience is leaping too."[6] According to Time Out, the film is a "smug, banal fairytale-with-a-message, redeemed only by the intermittently imaginative staging of the songs"; it "sound[s], and for the most part look[s], like a National Lampoon parody of some ghastly Swinging Sixties compendium."[7]

The film was shown out of competition at the 1979 Cannes Film Festival.[8]

Awards[edit]

At the 37th Golden Globe Awards, the film was nominated for a Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy, and Williams was nominated for New Star of the Year in a Motion Picture - Male. The film was also nominated for Best Foreign Film at the 1980 César Awards, losing to Woody Allen's Manhattan.

Years later, Forman cited his loss of his moral rights to the film to the studio as eventually leading to his 1997 John Huston Award for Artists Rights[9] from the Film Foundation:[10]

What was behind that [award] was that one day I had in my contract that when the studio wants to sell Hair ...to the network but they have to have my, you know, consent or how would they...what they do with it. But I didn't have this, so what they did, they didn't sell it to the network, they sold it to syndicated television where I didn't have that right. What happened: the film played on 115 syndicated stations practically all over the United States, and it's a musical. Out of 22 musical numbers, 11 musical numbers were cut out from the film, and yet it was still presented as a Milos Forman film, Hair. It was totally incomprehensible, jibberish, butchered beyond belief...

Soundtrack[edit]

All lyrics written by Gerome Ragni, Jim Rado, all music composed by Galt MacDermot.

Disc One
No. Title Length
1. "Aquarius" (Ren Woods) 4:47
2. "Sodomy"   1:30
3. "Donna/Hashish"   4:19
4. "Colored Spade"   1:34
5. "Manchester" (John Savage) 1:58
6. "Abie Baby/Fourscore" (Nell Carter) 2:43
7. "I'm Black/Ain't Got No"   2:24
8. "Air"   1:27
9. "Party Music"   3:26
10. "My Conviction"   1:46
11. "I Got Life" (Treat Williams) 2:16
12. "Frank Mills"   2:39
13. "Hair"   2:43
14. "L.B.J."   1:09
15. "Electric Blues/Old Fashioned Melody"   3:50
16. "Hare Krishna"   3:20
Disc Two
No. Title Length
1. "Where Do I Go?"   2:50
2. "Black Boys"   1:12
3. "White Boys" (Nell Carter) 2:36
4. "Walking in Space (My Body)"   6:12
5. "Easy to Be Hard" (Cheryl Barnes) 3:39
6. "Three-Five-Zero-Zero"   3:49
7. "Good Morning Starshine" (Beverly D'Angelo) 2:24
8. "What a Piece of Work is Man"   1:39
9. "Somebody to Love"   4:10
10. "Don't Put It Down"   2:25
11. "The Flesh Failures/Let the Sunshine In"   6:06

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "HAIR (AA)". British Board of Film Classification. 2012-03-20. Retrieved 2012-12-29. 
  2. ^ a b c d Horn, pp. 117–18
  3. ^ Ruhlmann, William. "Hair (Original Soundtrack)". Allmusic.com,
  4. ^ "Hair (1979)"
  5. ^ Canby, Vincent (March 14, 1979). "Hair". The New York Times. 
  6. ^ Rich, Frank (March 19, 1979). "Cinema: A Mid-'60s Night's Dream". Time. Retrieved 2011-07-05. 
  7. ^ "Hair (1979)". Time Out Film Guide. Time Out. Retrieved 2011-07-05. 
  8. ^ "Festival de Cannes: Hair". festival-cannes.com. Retrieved 2009-05-25. 
  9. ^ "Artists vs. Solons: Helmer Forman feted for rights fight". Variety. April 20, 1997. Retrieved 2011-07-05. 
  10. ^ "Interview with Milos Forman". The John Tusa Interviews. BBC Radio 3. Retrieved 2011-07-05. 

External links[edit]