The Winter of the Beard


In November of 2005 nine men ceased shaving and went about their daily lives.  The only rule was that the men could not trim any hair growing on their faces and neck, and they were to film themselves at least one hour a week.  During the winter, one man’s father faced the last few months of his life, passing on just after the film was finished.  One man’s wife stopped sleeping with him.  One man’s wife gave birth.  And life happened.  

The  deftly captures the sea changes, and minutiae of their lives, examining what it means to be a young man in western society.  

In a world defined by economic gain, one of the greatest problems facing men today is the simplest question of masculinity:  what does it mean to be male?  As young men today have become disconnected from our fathers’ generation, we must seek out new ways of building community, ritual, and definition for our lives that has meaning without being motivated by progress. 

Just over 100 years ago, most men wore beards.  At that point in history, the beard (or facial hair in general), was seen less as a fashion statement, and more as a general biological fact about what it meant to be male; and often a rite of passage.  In the last one hundred years, as the definitions of masculinity have eroded and become blurred, the beard has gone through several phases, now representing primarily leftist ideology.  In this way, the beard became not only a biological fact, but a means of social protest, especially during the Vietnam war in the 60’s. 

Yet forty years later, we still place great meaning on the un-groomed growth of facial hair.  Why is this?  Why has our culture become obsessed with physical appearance?  What does it mean and symbolize to become obscured by hair?  What does it mean to be a man who never grows a beard in his lifetime?  What is lost?

More than anything, this is a film about the simple challenges and joys of being alive.


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