The film Hair focuses on a draftee of the Vietnam War. On his way to the army induction center, he befriends a group of hippies. People in this ‘tribe’ introduces him to an environment of relationships that are unorthodox in nature. They also introduce him to LSD, marijuana, and draft evasion.
This movie came out in 1979 and is a musical anti-war comedy. It is based on Hair: The American Tribal Love-Rock Musical, which is a Broadway musical from the year 1968. The film is set against the backdrop of the hippie counterculture from the era of Vietnam War.
It was directed by Milos Forman. Michael Weller worked on the adaptation of the Broadway musical. Forman got a Cesar Award nomination for his work in this movie. Members of the cast included John Savage, Beverly D’Angelo, Cheryl Barnes, Treat Williams, Annie Golden, and several others.
Twyla Tharp had choreographed the dance sequences in the film. They were performed by Tharp’s dancers. Hair got a nomination for two Golden Globes. They were ‘New star of the Year in a Motion Picture’ and ‘Best Motion Picture’.
The role of Cheryl Barnes in the movie
Barnes portrayed the character of LaFayette ‘Hud’ Johnson’s fiancee in the film. She also played the role of the mother to Hud’s little son. Before this, Barnes had to go through a decade of being a nameless voice. She was also given a lot of promises in theater productions of New York.
After all these struggles, this was the film that gave her the chance to sing a song. The film version of Hair got an encouraging response from the audiences as well as critics. Her act in the movie drew comparisons to the famous singer and songwriter, Aretha Franklin.
Differences between the film and the Broadway stage play
Claude is the member of a group of hippies in the musical. The ‘tribe’ share an apartment in the New York City. He lives a bohemian lifestyle, enjoys ‘free love’ and rebels against the draft and his parents. Despite all of this, he eventually goes to Vietnam. The film adaptation showcased Claude as an innocent draftee from Oklahoma.
He has newly arrived in the New York City to be a part of the military. He gets into a friendship with a group of hippies during his time in the city. While awaiting his deployment to the Army’s training camp, he gets a glimpse of the group’s psychedelic lifestyle. The group of hippies also drive to Nevada to visit him when he is in the training camp.
The plot and soundtrack of the film version greatly differed from that of the stage play. James Rado and Gerome Ragni, who wrote the original musical with composer Galt MacDermott were quite unhappy about it. According to them, the film adaptation failed to capture the essence of the Broadway musical.
In the movie, the hippies were some sort of aberration having no connection to the peace movement. Rado and Ragni were of the opinion that any resemblance between the film and the stage play eluded them. The only similarities they could find were in the names of characters and some of the songs.