Tonight I am writing a super special edition of FFFD because the films I watched last week were all musicals.
Yes! Once I was as prejudiced as you (maybe) are, that musicals are the sole domain of the flamboyant, the Andrew Lloyd Webbers and people who use the term 'sexual' to describe things that don't involve sex. However, with the persuasion of a metric bumloads of alcohol and pizzas, I was told to sit down and watch two musicals, with the promise that they were good.
You know what? They were right.
Warning: this film contains hippies.
Anyhow, I am ignorant as to the 1968 broadway musical the film is based on other than knowing that there was a 1968 broadway musical called Hair which was later adapted into a film and released in 1979. Which is when the film was released.
The film deals with a naive Oklahoma farm boy who heads to New York City to join the military and before he gets the chance, he befriends some all singing, all dancing, colourful, anti-war hippies who show him the blissful alternative lifestyle of odd relationships, casual drug use, bright colours and long hair.
The music in the film is actually really well done, the singing is very impressive and the colour and choreography of the musical numbers is really well done. The main characters, because the film isn't ALL music, actually do get a chance to express and grow through dialogue rather than musical scenes and that really worked as far as trying to enjoy the characters. The plot is pretty once sided in terms of the military being bad and the film works as a potent anti-war film whilst also showing some of the hippy characters as also being pretty flawed.
One thing that did utterly surprise me was the ending. For a film that seemed pretty colourful and only occasionally delved into controversial moments, the ending was a sudden shock that you almost hoped would not occur, that there would be some kind of last minute reprive. It does not happen so you finish the film in a state of shock and depression.
My only real problems with the films was that I'm not a huge fan of hippies and the film is heavily balanced in their favour. However, as a piece of musical entertainment, the film is pretty damn good fun. Apart from the pretty shocking ending. Which is why I was told to watch this film first.
So we could finish with....
Now this is a film that I have heard so much about, am aware of so many cultural impacts from this film and still I had not got round to seeing it. Until last week.
The entire tone of the film is the main success here. The whole sci-fi B movie turned musical means that the whole film is gleefully camp, bright, funny and clever. Include several star performances from Tim Curry, Susan Sarandon and Richard O'Brien and you have an oddly charming slice of crazy musical homage to sci-fi movies.
The film plays heavily on its influences, being mentioned throughout several songs as well as in the plot in general and the visual style of the film.
Certainly the whole film is much lighter and enjoyable as a film than Hair. The songs are oddly familar even though I've never seen the film before and watching it, I was able to mentally tick off so many influences the film has had since its release. But the film has a oddly magnetic charm about it despite it's more crazy elements and whilst individually, the choreography and songs aren't as good found in Hair, I felt that the film as a whole had much more character and charm.
This is a film that if you do watch a film, has achieved a huge amount of a cult following, and it is easy to see why. It's a lighthearted, kitsch slice of musical and one I enjoyed hugely. Oh, and watching the fantastic Charles Gray in this film made me so, so happy.