MGM Home Entertainment
Cast: Treat Williams, Beverly D'Angelo, John Savage
Extras: Theatrical Trailer
For a long time, it had been considered "unfilmable", until a daring Milos Forman teamed up with writers Gerome Ragni and James Rado to create one of the best musical transitions from stage to screen. Converted directly from Broadway to a colorful major studio movie event, "Hair" has clearly been one of the most influential musicals of the 70s, remembering, with a somber note, the hippie days of flower power, the Vietnam War, and its peaceful counter reactions.
Stylishly directed by Milos Forman, breathtakingly choreographed by Twyla Tharp, and beautifully photographed by Miroslav Ondrícek, "Hair" boasts an array of powerful songs and lyrics that have become classics in today's music repertoire. MGM Home Entertainment has now released a Blu-Ray version of the film, making sure it remains in the hearts of film loving audiences. Claude (John Savage), the son of a farmer, leaves his Oklahoma home to enlist to the army. Before joining the forces he is heading to the Big Apple to see the city, and catch New York's sights and sounds. Soon after his arrival he runs into a small group of peaceful hippies who quickly indoctrinate the wide-eyed country boy into their own subculture. Counter reactive and opposed to class separation, racism and war, this group quickly becomes a pivotal point in Claude's last days.
During an encounter, Claude falls in love with Sheila (Beverly D'Angelo), a girl from a rich family, and his newly found friend Berger (Treat Williams) is determined to give Claude the time of his life, hoping he would reconsider his decision to join the Forces. Berger is the powerhouse leader of the small group and with his invincible attitude there is seemingly nothing he cannot achieve.
The group spends time together and his new found comrades clearly leave their mark on the impressible Claude, but nevertheless a few days later he leaves for the Army. When we writes back to Sheila from his troops in Nevada, Berger and the gang decide to leave freezing New York and travel to Nevada to visit their friend, for lack of anything better to do. But the trip has dire consequences. I remember the first time I watched "Hair", it happened by accident. I got to watch it without really knowing what I was getting into, but the music immediately hit a string with me. There is not a whole lot of dialog in this film, and the majority of the story is conveyed in the songs' lyrics – a thing I am usually not very fond of. However, I remember the first time I watched the movie, the energetic music and flamboyant performances really kept me watching, and by the time the film was over, I found myself sitting in the chair staring at the screen in disbelief, trying to recuperate from its absolutely unexpected, yet glorious, ending.
Afterwards it made me sad and I started to think about the intentions the film tried to communicate. After some more deliberation I came to the conclusion that "Hair" was a truly special film. One the makes a statement and brings across a message, but does so in a way that you hardly notice it while watching the film itself. Only later when you find yourself thinking about some of the issues and questions raised by the story, you discover how deep the film has impacted you. This is a quality few movies really have, and although it takes a certain mindset to watch and enjoy "Hair", there can be no doubt that it is as important an anti-war and pro-peace film as any of the highly acclaimed dramas. The film is well acted, extremely well choreographed and the voice talents used in the film's musical performances is sometimes utterly mesmerizing, and if the film is guilty of anything, it is its own faithfulness. It is a movie that comes from the heart and communicates with the heart. While seemingly political at first, the film is in fact advocating friendship and love, and celebrates life for what it is. A roundabout trip that has to end some time – inevitably.
"Hair" has a very period look, conjuring up vivid images of the flower power and anti-war movements of the 60s. The transfer on this Blu-Ray Disc looks slightly aged and worn with a bit of grain in numerous scenes. Overall however, the film has been skillfully transferred for this release with very strong colors and prevailing hues, a sharp image that holds plenty of detail and never looks washed out, and faithful color reproduction.
The level of detail is good, though perhaps not quite as impressive as it could have been. MGM has clearly missed the opportunity here to clean up and properly re-transfer the film for the Blu-Ray medium and as a result this disc feels a bit like a souped-up DVD. Not entirely disappointing, but also not exactly impressive.
MGM Home Video has previously re-mixed the exuberant soundtrack for "Hair" into a 5.1 surround track that was found on the DVD version. Here the same mix is presented in a DTS5.1 HD Master Audio track. Being a musical, clearly the audio is of importance in a release like this and I am glad to say that the audio fares much better than the video presentation, actually.
The dynamic range is very impressive and the songs sound fresher than ever. There is no noise evident in the sound elements and the track also has a surprisingly good bass extension. The music carries the film and as such a good audio transfer is essential for this movie. Fortunately MGM did a fabulous job and within minutes into the film, your living room or home theater will be engulfed in a wave of breathing rhythm, voices and melodies. This audio transfer truly makes the best of the fantastic music that builds the basement of the film. "Hair" is a landmark achievement and it is great to be able to finally see it in high definition. It is a bit of a sloppy job, and the lack of extras beyond the obligatory trailer, is testimony to that once again. Nonetheless, fans of the movie and the music will definitely want to go out and grab a copy of this fantastic film.