Directed by: Milos Forman
Starring: John Savage, Treat Williams, Beverly D'Angelo, Annie Golden, Dorsey Wright, Don Dacus, Cheryl Barnes
Milos Forman’s Hair (1979) is a film that they simply waited too long to make—at least so far as the box office was concerned. The popularity of the stage musical was long over by 1979, and the clearly anti-establishment tone of the film was not quite in keeping with the mood of the moment. Despite being heavily covered by the film publications of the era (after all, this was Forman’s first film since his 1975 One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest), the movie was a massive flop when it first appeared. This probably pleased the original show’s authors, Gerome Ragni and James Rado, who were less than delighted by the changes the film made—like giving it an entirely different story. That the stage musical could have been filmed is fairly ludicrous, since it was so much a product of its time. Forman’s approach was to make a film about that time, and it largely works—perhaps better today than it did when the movie came out. Oh, it has some problems—a few of the numbers, especially the LSD wedding, seem to go on forever—but it has more going for it than against it, not in the least the fact that Forman proves to have a natural affinity for filming musical numbers. What’s particularly surprising today is that the film secured a PG rating. The thematic material and drug use would not get that rating today, while the length of Beverly D’Angelo’s totally not-coy topless scene would bring it an R by itself. Have we actually become that much more prudish since 1979? I’m afraid we have.
The Asheville Film Society will screen Hair on Tuesday, March 6, at 8 p.m. in the Cinema Lounge of The Carolina Asheville and will be hosted by Xpress movie critics Ken Hanke and Justin Souther. Hanke is the artistic director of the A.F.S.