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Blu-ray Reviews

Hair Blu-ray Review



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#1 of 85 OFFLINE   Matt Hough

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Posted June 08 2011 - 10:13 AM

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Hair (Blu-ray)
Directed by Milos Forman

Studio: MGM/UA
Year: 1979


Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1   1080p   AVC codec
Running Time: 121 minutes
Rating: PG
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 English, 2.0 French, Spanish
Subtitles: SDH, French, Spanish


Region: A
MSRP: $ 19.99



Release Date: June 7, 2011

Review Date: June 8, 2011



The Film

3.5/5


Some stories are clearly in and of their time and others transcend it. Hair, the “American Tribal Love-Rock Musical” (as it was so billed during its original four year Broadway run) was initially produced during an era of free love, flower power, and counterculture revolution. It was the first rock music score that managed to catch fire on Broadway, and its almost free-form amalgamation of music and vague storytelling featured casual nudity (the cast was free to doff clothes at the end of the first act or not as the spirit moved them) and a score that featured almost thirty songs. But by the time of its 1979 movie version, the music and themes had become passé. No amount of clever filming could recapture that lightning-in-a-bottle moment when Hair first exploded into the American consciousness. Now more than thirty years removed from the film’s premiere, the movie plays as a definite period piece, a very effective if somewhat flawed look at a generation of young people who opposed not only war but the restrictions of a buttoned-up society, and the images that director Milos Forman puts together with that sometimes grating and sometimes exhilarating score certainly catch one’s attention and stay seared in the memory. Beyond its rudimentary narrative, Hair is a movie of memorable sights and sounds.


Two days before reporting for Army induction, Claude Bukowski (John Savage) arrives in New York City and runs into a hippie colony made up of George Berger (Treat Williams), Woof (Don Dacus), Hud (Dorsey Wright), and Jeannie (Annie Golden). He also meets a decidedly non-hippie on horseback, debutante Sheila Franklin (Beverly D'Angelo) with whom he’s immediately smitten. For two days, Claude is introduced to the free and easy lifestyle of these social dropouts: he smokes his first joint, crashes Sheila’s debutante party, goes on an LSD trip, and gets thrown in jail. Then, it’s off to basic training in Nevada while his friends back in New York wonder why he feels such a sense of duty and obligation and begin to miss him.


From the helter-skelter ramblings of its stage libretto, Michael Weller has fashioned a reasonably interesting narrative through-line for his screenplay, one which serves the songs quite well. While all but five of the tunes from the original stage version have been shoehorned into the film in one way or another, the half a dozen or so that really work well certainly equal the best film musical numbers staged in movies over the past few decades. “The Age of Aquarius” (warbled superbly by Ren Woods) gets the film off to a sensational start with Forman’s revolving camera capturing the sights and sounds of New York’s Central Park and the thrill that only the best opening numbers in musicals can deliver. (Twyla Tharp’s choreography here with her dancers and with mounted policemen in the park is quite impressive through elsewhere in the film, her stylized posings and movements don’t always mesh well with ordinary dance steps). Treat Williams’ declaration of his free-wheeling lifestyle “I Got Life” captures the joie de vivre of his character as well as anything in the film while Forman also uses songs effectively in two terrific montages: “My Body/Walking in Space” for Claude’s basic training sequence while the group’s road trip to see their friend makes “Good Morning, Starshine” something really special. If you want the very essence of Broadway musical comedy, you’ll find it with the hilarious, satirical “Black Boys/White Boys” (the one time the score veers closest to a traditional Broadway sound) while the film’s bittersweet climax adds poignancy to “Let the Sunshine In.” Interestingly, Forman, two-time winner of the Best Director Oscar, was able to easily mesh his directorial style with the very unique and individualistic demands of the film musical, something fellow award-winners like John Huston (Annie), Richard Attenborough (A Chorus Line), and Sidney Lumet (The Wiz) had no success doing at all.


Though John Savage gets top billing in the film and gives a very efficient performance as the initially naïve and later more seasoned Claude, Treat Williams walks away with the honors as the charismatic Berger. Singing with raw expressiveness and confidence (Williams had been in Broadway choruses before gravitating to the movies) and unafraid of the piece’s required nudity, his performance gives Hair its real charge. As the boys’ love interest, Beverly D'Angelo seems a bit old for her role and her singing seems small in “Good Morning, Starshine” (she brought the house down a year later as Patsy Cline in Coal Miner’s Daughter with a much more powerful vocal and histrionic performance), but she gets the job done. Annie Golden’s quirky, pregnant flower child symbolizes the era about as well as anything while Dorsey Wright and Don Dacus complete the hippie quartet efficiently but without great style. Look closely, and you’ll find Nell Carter, Charlotte Rae, Melba Moore, and even director Nicholas Ray among cameo performers.



Video Quality

3.5/5


The film is presented in its theatrical 1.85:1 aspect ratio and is delivered in 1080p resolution using the AVC codec. MGM hasn’t seemingly done much clean up with the film which has traces of dust specks throughout. In fact, the opening scene as father and son bid goodbye to one another is quite dated looking, dirty, rather soft, and devoid of much color. Once we get to Central Park, however, things clear up and sharpness and color saturation become much stronger and more pleasing. Flesh tones look accurate, and black levels are quite good as well. The film has been divided into 44 chapters.



Audio Quality

4/5


The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 sound mix presents the score to very good advantage though the volume level seems a trifle reduced. The orchestra and choral ensembles occupy both fronts and rears during the musical numbers with solo singers (as well as the well recorded dialogue) occupying the center channel. Not a lot has been done with ambient sounds either in Central Park, the debutante party, or in boot camp, but there are fleeting instances of surround activity in each of those venues. There are no problematic age-related artifacts to mar the audio experience.



Special Features

1/5


The theatrical trailer is presented in 1080p and runs for 2 ¾ minutes.



In Conclusion

3.5/5 (not an average)


Milos Forman’s Hair is an enjoyable and entertaining period musical. It makes sense out of the rambling stage story and presents almost all of the stage score accurately and faithfully (even if too many of the songs are more like musicalized lists than real numbers). The Blu-ray doesn’t offer much bonus material and isn’t the cleanest and sharpest of musicals in high definition, but it’s definitely a step up from the film’s release on DVD and is certainly recommended as an upgrade for fans of the movie.




Matt Hough

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#2 of 85 OFFLINE   Ronald Epstein

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Posted June 08 2011 - 11:45 AM

Matt,


Always liked this musical.  Probably going to purchase it
since it's reasonably priced at under $15.


Thank you so much for the review.


 

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#3 of 85 OFFLINE   GMpasqua

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Posted June 08 2011 - 12:11 PM

Too bad the transfer has it's share of diret and specks. The DVD also had a muddy, dirty opening, but once they moved to NYC everything was sharper and cleaner. The film looked good in the theater - but this wasn't a 70MM production. To bad the dirty couldn't have been cleaned up - at one point there was talk of releasing a directors cut of the film on video - much like they did with "Amadeus"  some of the songs that were cut appeared on the soundtrack LP/CD



#4 of 85 OFFLINE   GMpasqua

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Posted June 08 2011 - 12:13 PM

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Some of the marketing ads when the film was first released



#5 of 85 OFFLINE   Matt Hough

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Posted June 08 2011 - 01:46 PM




Originally Posted by GMpasqua 

http://static.hometh...um.com/imgrepo/


Some of the marketing ads when the film was first released


Thanks for posting those! They're very interesting.




#6 of 85 OFFLINE   GMpasqua

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Posted June 08 2011 - 02:39 PM

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Thank you, here's another one



#7 of 85 OFFLINE   Matt Hough

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Posted June 08 2011 - 02:44 PM



Originally Posted by GMpasqua 

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Thank you, here's another one


Thanks, and I agree with the last pull quote on the sheet: Hair was the best movie musical since Cabaret (and 1776; I think 1776 came out later in the year than Cabaret).




#8 of 85 OFFLINE   trajan

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Posted June 08 2011 - 04:08 PM

One of my all time favorite films. Never get tired of watching it. Finally in anamorphic!



#9 of 85 OFFLINE   Charles Smith

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Posted June 09 2011 - 02:53 AM

Wasn't the DVD anamorphic?  If I recall, it's a full-screen/widescreen flipper, but I don't remember having to zoom it.  I guess that's moot if this Blu is an acceptable enough upgrade.  Too bad it's not a way better upgrade.




#10 of 85 OFFLINE   Marty M

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Posted June 09 2011 - 03:21 AM



Originally Posted by Chas in CT 

Wasn't the DVD anamorphic?  If I recall, it's a full-screen/widescreen flipper, but I don't remember having to zoom it.  I guess that's moot if this Blu is an acceptable enough upgrade.  Too bad it's not a way better upgrade.




No, the DVD is not anamorphic.  I remember trying to watch this right after I purchased my HDTV in 2006.  The BD version being anamorphic is the reason I will be purchasing this.


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#11 of 85 OFFLINE   Charles Smith

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Posted June 09 2011 - 04:11 AM

Count me in, then.



#12 of 85 OFFLINE   Powell&Pressburger

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Posted June 09 2011 - 04:18 AM

I watched and I know this sounds bad only about 40 mins of the film only because it was really late and I was tired, but was dying to check out the blu.


The transfer to me looked really good and true to film form. The opening credits have that layer to them that makes them look dirtier than the rest of the film. I can't think of the terminology for this, but this is very common with most films esp 1980 previous.


I loved how the opening looked, with film debris etc. As soon as the bus ride starts the film is really clean looking. I can't imagine the film looking any better. How it looks would have to be based on the film elements and not any bad tech mishaps which is good. (IMO)


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#13 of 85 OFFLINE   Ronald Epstein

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Posted June 09 2011 - 04:28 AM


I can't think of the terminology for this, but this is very common with most films esp 1980 previous.


Jack,


I know exactly what you are referring to.  I do

not know the terminology for it either, but I used

to do a lot of DVD reviews and always had a comment

about how bad the opening credits looked compared

to the rest of the film.


I believe it has something to do with the optics used

and usually, it cannot be entirely cleaned up.


Hope someone can comment further.


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#14 of 85 OFFLINE   Powell&Pressburger

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Posted June 09 2011 - 04:47 AM

I know Robert Harris mentioned it in his African Queen thread because I noted how shocked I was to see the Opening Credits for the film looking pristine without that type of dirty film layer. So it was interesting to learn how so etc.


UPDATE found Harris's post regarding African Queen Credits.

"Although I haven't handled these specific elements, it would not have been unusual for the main title to be made up of background negatives and a hi-con title, as opposed to the Eastman system of going to a dupe.  If this was the case, then both background and title would have been original photography."



Originally Posted by Ronald Epstein 



Jack,


I know exactly what you are referring to.  I do

not know the terminology for it either, but I used

to do a lot of DVD reviews and always had a comment

about how bad the opening credits looked compared

to the rest of the film.


I believe it has something to do with the optics used

and usually, it cannot be entirely cleaned up.


Hope someone can comment further.


Visit our http://static.hometh...um.com/imgrepo/DVDhttp://static.hometh...um.com/imgrepo/BLU-RAY and http://static.hometh...um.com/imgrepo/3D REVIEW ARCHIVES







Stop the Replacing of original Studio Opening / Closing logos! They are part of film history.

Marantz SR7007 MartinLogan: ESL, Grotto i, Motif, FX2, Motion 15
Oppo BDP-103 Region Free Pioneer LD CLD-D505
Panasonic 65" TC-P65ZT60

 


#15 of 85 OFFLINE   Chuck Pennington

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Posted June 09 2011 - 05:33 AM

THE AFRICAN QUEEN main titles look like they were re-created digitally from a text-less background. Anyone else think so?



#16 of 85 OFFLINE   Timothy E

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Posted June 09 2011 - 06:08 AM

Originally Posted by Chuck Pennington 
THE AFRICAN QUEEN main titles look like they were re-created digitally from a text-less background. Anyone else think so?


I received that impression from The African Queen main titles as well.




#17 of 85 OFFLINE   Timothy E

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Posted June 09 2011 - 06:16 AM


Quote:

Originally Posted by Ronald Epstein 
Jack,


I know exactly what you are referring to.  I do

not know the terminology for it either, but I used

to do a lot of DVD reviews and always had a comment

about how bad the opening credits looked compared

to the rest of the film.


I believe it has something to do with the optics used

and usually, it cannot be entirely cleaned up.


Hope someone can comment further.


Visit our http://static.hometh...um.com/imgrepo/DVDhttp://static.hometh...um.com/imgrepo/BLU-RAY and http://static.hometh...um.com/imgrepo/3D REVIEW ARCHIVES




I commented on the inferior video quality of the credit sequence in The Quick and the Dead in my review of the BD release in 2009.  One of our members, Vincent_P, offered the following explanation for this phenomenon in post #3 of that thread:


"As I recall, this film opens with the credits playing over the image.  This would explain the image quality issues with those opening few minutes, as the entire sequence would be an optical which is two additional generations removed from the negative, and opticals are prone to having dirt printed in, as well."
 
The thread may be viewed in its entirety here:  http://www.hometheat...ad#post_3817392 



#18 of 85 OFFLINE   Techman707

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Posted June 09 2011 - 04:35 PM



Originally Posted by trajan 

One of my all time favorite films. Never get tired of watching it. Finally in anamorphic!



 What do you mean, Blu-rays aren't anamorphic (at least not yet) and the original DVD was non-anamorphic widescreen, which was why the quality was so bad.  I recall the film itself was flat and hard matted 1.85:1.



#19 of 85 OFFLINE   GMpasqua

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Posted June 11 2011 - 12:40 PM

I wonder if they will ever come up with a way of removing the white speckles from older films without losing picture detail.


Watched this today and though overall it looked pretty good. The colors and black levels were okay, the sound was also okay - nothing great - though this film was originally shown in 70MM blow ups so the sound should really pop.


The film does have a fair amount of speckles through out - too bad they couldn't remove them. It's doubtful this film will ever get a restoration but the blu-ray is miles a head of the DVD. MGM may have used an older transfer, but it is quite sharp at times (the film has some soft focus now and then) and the colors is pretty much as I remember it in the theater.


I wonder if they will ever come up with a way of removing the white speckles from older films. I remember the DVD of "Funny Girl" looked great - it had just been restored but there were white specks through out (probably now part of the original negative)





#20 of 85 OFFLINE   trajan

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Posted June 12 2011 - 03:53 AM

Are the speckles on the dvd? I dont remember them.