The Deal With Documentaries: It's all about the facial hair

“The Winter of the Beard” explores how it may be the little things that provide the most comfort in life.


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The holiday season is a time of nostalgia and excitement, a chance to rekindle ties with family and friends. While it is a silent journey for most, eight men from across the country and all walks of life united in one mission: go six months without shaving their facial hair and film the entire journey. Those six months became known as The Winter of the Beard.

The Winter of the Beard follows Lannie Achord, Benjamin Jahn, Christian Kiefer, Jason Long, Reid Maclean, Dan Perez, Jefferson Pitcher and Mike Schwartz, with Schwartz and Pitcher also directing and producing. The idea for the journey came when Pitcher’s late grandfather revealed he had never grown a beard. He believed it was a necessary thing that every man needs to do once in his life. Pitcher enlisted the help of the other seven men from across the country to contribute to his film. Although the documentary was filmed in 2005, it is presented in black and white, creating an ambiance that is reminiscent of older times. Early on into the film, it becomes apparent that it is not about the beards, but about the time in each man’s life that the beard is there for.

Their journeys come together to convey one message. Life is precious, and even with its ups and downs, it’s still an amazing ride. Each man shot his own segment, which means self-interviews. From one man dealing with his father's declining health to another dealing with financial troubles and a new baby on the way, each person experiences trials and tribulations over the course of the six unshaven months. The most emotional part of the entire film is when the men go out to a mountainside and all shave their beards together at the end of their journey. The past six months of struggles and memories that were captured catch up with all the men as they remove their only source of consistency: their beards.

The Winter of the Beard explores the unique struggles that come with every stage of life. But with some security and support through good friends and family, one can get through hardship.

MOVE gives The Winter of the Beard 4 out of 5 stars

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