Judge Brett Cullum gives you "down to there" hair...as long as that means three inches or less.
This is the dawning of the Age of Aquarius!
Hair was a cultural force when it debuted on Broadway in April of 1968, and forty years later we can see the lingering influences on theatre and popular music. Revivals are popping up everywhere as America engages in another war. Hair: Let the Sunshine In takes a look back at what is often referred to as the world's first rock musical, and attempts to put it in to context for both then and now with the idea not much has changed. Interviews include original author and star James Rado, composer Galt McDermot, and several of the producers who helped the show get to Broadway at the very end of the '60s. Amazingly, a lot of stock footage from the era is used, some includes original cast performances from televised variety shows, and even a glimpse or two of various stage productions pop up. If you're a fan of the musical, this is a must find! Celebrities such as Melba Moore and Ben Vereen talk about their time in the cast, and we even get vintage clips of Tim Curry talking in French about being in a Paris version. Hollywood legends such as actor Keith Carradine and film director Milos Forman pop up to talk about their respective involvements as well. Forman directed the film adaptation, which wasn't faithful to the original play, and Carradine spent time as a member of the cast or "Tribe." Along with all these loving backward glances we also get to see a young cast from 2007 working with James Rado to mount a new Hair which ties itself to the Iraq war.
Hair is a fascinating subject, and the movie does a great job of showing us then and now. The effect is you begin to understand the cultural forces that produced Hair originally are still in the world today, we're just not as in tune with them. They make a show that could feel dated relevant to the present. It's wild to see the original creators talk about how they worked and see them today forty years after they made history. Rado looks like the aging hippie you would expect with long hair still intact though much thinner, while MacDermot is clean cut and conservative in his old age much like he was back in the day too. Everybody still speaks passionately about Hair, and it must have been a truly powerful experience to have worked on it.
If I have any gripes about the film it would be that running under an hour it feels too fleeting to examine everything, and two participants seem to get short shrift when I analyze who is shown. There isn't enough footage of co-author Gerome Ragni who passed away in 1991, and also missing are interviews with Diane Keaton, who did a stint in the show as part of the original Broadway cast. Gerome is talked about quite a bit and Keaton gets a passing mention, but neither gets the attention they deserve from a documentary about the show. I believe the footage of the new cast is from a 2008 Central Park revival, but they seem to be some of the same cast from a 2006 production in New Jersey. It's a shame they are not identified better, and we know nothing other than that they are kids rehearsing with Rado and one of his original producers.
The DVD from Alive Mind includes the feature and bonus footage of clips deleted from the proper film. It's nice to see more Ben Vereen and Milos Forman, and the excised interview material adds to the experience. Nothing else is included for supplemental material. DVD Verdict was sent a screener of this product, so not much can be discerned about the transfer other than it varies wildly depending on the quality of the archival footage the directors are using. Sound seems fine with stereo being adequate for the music and dialogue.
Hair: Let the Sunshine In is a nice surprise on DVD, because it is not so much a look back as it is a testament to how the show continues to press on in our world. The dreams of the hippies were never realized, and we still have protests crying out for peace and love around the world. It's nice to see the people who wrote and acted in it still feel the same passionate connection they did as young artists making a bold statement. Fans need to see this, and anybody who wonders about the spirit of the '60s will find the documentary a memory jog worth taking.
An hour of flower power convinces you Hair is still an important musical outside of the '60s. Hair: Let the Sunshine In is a testimony to its legacy, and a treat for fans who miss the days of hippies and protests.
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