Vidal Sassoon: The Movie

Vidal Sassoon: The Movie pays homage to the man who changed the way women viewed themselves. The film consists of interview footage with the currently 81 year old legend, some of his former workers, influential people from the world of hair and fashion and some archival footage of Vidal in action back in the day.

Vidal lived an interesting life (fodder for scriptwriters some would say; pity they did nothing with it). He came from humble beginnings; he grew up in a Jewish orphanage in the East End of London. He went from there to his apprenticeship during which he became involved in anti-fascist street fighting. When the war struck he acted as a runner, cycling through the Blitz to deliver important messages. Once the war ended Vidal, and the rest of England, went off to pick up where he left off.

Being of a very visual mind, his inspiration for his signature hairstyles came from the modern architecture of the time; the geometric shapes that characterised contemporary buildings in the 60s. When a woman came into a salon Vidal told her what he was going to do, he did not listen to their requests. Somehow this worked for him. The man was visionary; he single-handedly redefined how women felt about themselves, how they expected to look and how the hair industry worked. This film follows Vidal on his path to world domination (of the hair industry anyway).

The film itself is very stylish. The modern interviews are mostly shot in black and white so the transition to archive footage is seamless. The content however is very one sided and overly complimentary; the opening scene is Vidal walking over a bridge, whislt talking heads stating that it is impossible to exaggerate his importance. One of them calls him the Messiah. Honestly, comparisons to the Messiah are made. We have to remember here that, in the end, all he does is cut hair. This may be due to the fact that the talking heads were all either former workers of Vidal’s or else in the fashion industry themselves; but I think that anybody that lives in the real world will see that comparing him to the Messiah is a bit of a stretch.

At times it feels as if this is an extremely long advertisement for the coffee table book that is being put together by Bumble and Bumble founder Michael Gordon; also a producer of this movie. There are many scenes inside the studio where the book is being compiled on the wall; the highlight of the film seems to be when they show this compilation of pages to Vidal.

Overall this is an interesting insight into the man that has an everlasting affect on popular culture but the film itself would fair better set as a dramatisation of his life as opposed to a 90 minute interview. It’ll work well for his hardcore fans, but for those of us that just want an enjoyable watch this is lacking in substance.

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