The Winter of the Beard

The Winter of the BeardIn the fall of 2005, two filmmakers invited six men across America to join them in an experiment.

They would all stop shaving for six months. No trimming allowed. Each was provided a video camera and weekly interview questions to document his own experience. The resulting 600 hours of intimate footage revealed a group of men traversing the same rite of passage from disparate vantage points.

Throughout the process, the men told stories from their pasts, shared likes and dislikes, and confessed personal fears and aspirations. They laughed and cried, hid and came alive behind their beards.

The tireless taping captured bad days and good ones, and it is in this framework that the individual stories stand out and the beards fade into the background.

From a son dealing with his father's descent into Alzheimer's, to financial and marital struggles, to the birth of a child, The Winter of The Beard reveals the trials and tribulations of what it means to drastically alter one's appearance and otherwise go on living life.

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Ratings: 7.93/10 from 15 users.

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29 Comments / User Reviews

  1. JezusVanNazareth

    I think this film is just tremendous!
    Upon reading the synopsis, one might stop to think 'this will be uninteresting and self indulgent', but au contraire! These men have interesting stories, these men have lived and will live beyond this film, which creates an interesting dynamic.

    The beard is a transformative process, along with the monologues. Just a great little quirky film!

  2. DeAndre Miiler

    Interesting doc... I through-ally enjoyed it. So many :manlytears: I don't agree with technology being a poison on society bit, but more so blame it on bad parenting and materialistic sheepleness, plus society being a generation behind(or 2 or 3) Being able to txt shorthand, but still being able to type in a semi-professional manner my even further the progression of our minds; keeping in mind that everything is good in moderation. Your opening up more cognitive connections for a given vocabulary entry. It's almost like knowing a second language(hell ebonics is accepted and taught) However, most people aren't fully acquainted with half of the shorthand and 1337 5p34k that make up this internet language. The cyber revolution is on an acceleration curve... Ready or not, learn it or get left behind.

  3. yankeecannelle

    Comment by drinker69 is offensive and potentially promotes stereotypes. The moderately needs to remove it and consider displaying a clear policy against offensive comments.

  4. magarac

    Well worth watching!
    And growing a beard isn´t as hard as they make it look..

  5. tomregit

    Sorry yankeecannelle, I'm going to disagree with you here. There is a clear policy of what is allowed here, and there is a fine line between being a sh1t disturber, poor taste, ignorance, and outright censorship. Look at the profile of drinker 69. You won't find much (anything) insightful or revealing; just short posts that he thinks are clever. Most people see through them for what they are.

    Stupidity should not be banned.

    Edit: One person actually liked it. Hard to believe!

  6. dzany1

    I enjoyed this documentary.
    I fell in love with Reid's father, who seemed a delightful soul.
    I envisioned myself, trying to be front and center a camera with no script. I felt as if I were struggling with them as they tried to fill the void of empty video space.
    From this point, I will not see a bearded man and not think of these men.

  7. tomregit

    Touché. You're far too clever for me.

    Edit: This comment was in reply to drinker69, who's posting has apparently been removed. Now it is a reply to nothing and thus makes no sense. It would be fitting if a moderator removed it as well.

  8. wald0

    I found this surprisingly good. After reading the synopsis I didn't think I would care for it, but the beard part is actually very little of the documentary. Mostly it is a chance to see into the parts of peoples lives that they usually keep for themselves and, maybe one or two family members or friends. At times I felt certain guys got a little whiny for my taste but, I come from a much less polished past, environment, and up bringing so that is to be expected I suppose. I also disagree with the guy about technology ruining mankind. Saying that is the same thing as saying mankind is not capable of leading a good life, for lack of a better term, unless he abandons the pursuit of scientific knowledge. This is a ridiculous statement. If you simply study history it is clear that with scientific knowledge comes a better life for mankind- less violence, less starvation, less disease, etc. I constantly hear people wish for "the good ole days", but history tells a totally different story. Every generation seems to feel that there is more violence, more suffering than in the past, it just isn't so, check the numbers.
    What has changed is peoples attitudes, their ability to self discipline, their sense of self entitlement, etc. People do things like calling their children in class, students do things like skip their homework, etc. not because the technology made it possible but, because people have changed. Democracy is falling apart not because it is a failing system of government but, because people have changed. Capitalism has become a vicious, blood thirsty animal incapable of compassion or concern not because that is its nature, but because people have changed. My parents generation had all the necessary tools to do the horrible things that we see everyday now all around us, but they didn't do it. They had the capacity to sit on the rears and let the government take care of them, but they didn't do it. They had the ability, and a dare say at times the desire, to abandon their children for drugs or some wild promiscuous life style, but they didn't do it. The real change has to start with us, the people. Everything else will fall inline accordingly, it always does.

  9. sensory_1

    ahhhhhh,paranoid. good album.

  10. mrgreen01

    @wald0 We are not a democracy we be a republic, Capitalism applauds rich assholes and no breaks for the poor . Your parent's generation, assuming they were born between 1940-1970, have caused plenty of destruction with wars. People have been fighting wars since your parents generation has been alive. The only difference from then and now is that are technology is way more bad ass and causes more death. From the way you are talking it also seems that you like Ronald Regan who sucked as a president and caused lots of debt and the govs been smugglin drugs into the ghettos all through that fools presidency.

  11. Tyler Partridge

    I enjoyed this much more than I thought I would. Funny how I always seem to stumble upon the most peculiar films here on TDF that are strangely in accordance to a particular moment in my life.

    I actually started growing my first beard 7 weeks ago, just to see if I could go through with it. My girlfriend absolutely despises the thing. Although curiously, I like the beard even more knowing how much she loathes it. That can't be normal, right?

    I often imagine marriage to be very much like this..

  12. wald0

    My parents are seventy nine and seventy four, born in the thirties. I am a democrat and a liberal that cannot stand Ronald Reagan, and I never said a word about war. Nice try, but completely beside my point. Oh and by the way, we have a democratic republic, not just a republic like Rome had.
    Here is the definition of a republic-A state in which supreme power is held by the people and their elected representatives, and which has an elected or nominated president. Here is the definition of democracy- A system of government by the whole population or all the eligible members of a state, through elected representatives. Now as you can plainly see that also defines our type of government very well, in fact it says almost the exact same thing. The only way to completely be unambiguous about our system of government however is to call it a democratic republic but, I didn’t realize we were so caught up in simple semantics. The major difference between the two is whether or not the entire public, with some common sense restrictions, has a voice in their own government. If they do you have a democratic republic, not just a republic. In Rome it took much more than just being of age to vote, they had restrictions that said you must be male, of a certain class, etc. Now that is a simple republic, is that what we have? No.
    Regardless of such simple semantics, my point still stands. We can complain about the government all we want but, the representatives are chosen from amongst our citizenry. Therefore, until our citizens change the representatives that they produce will stay the same. My parent’s generation stayed involved, they stayed informed, and they stayed motivated- even though they faced things this generation would call impossible. They valued honesty and character much more than flashy cars and money. Of course there were wars, like you pointed out there always has been. But they didn't go to war like we do today, as the aggressor looking for resources to steal, against the wishes of the general public, etc. Now if you think these are somehow republican values or conservative values, well your just plain wrong. They are both liberal democrats that hate the republican party and what they stand for, and so were most of their family members and friends.

  13. WTC7

    @ mrgreen01,

    In terms of contemporary political science, when you say a country is a "republic" it simply means it's not a monarchy. The word comes from Latin 'res publica' meaning public affairs. I do understand, though, that the term republic has taken a different meaning and life in the US than in the rest of the world.

    Democracy is not the `rule of the mob`, in the rest of the world it is understood as the right of people to elect their representatives on a periodic basis (usually 4 years). Everybody who is over 18 and is a citizen can vote, no need to register your vote anywhere in advance. Greek word `demos`, from which the term democracy comes from, does not mean mob, but `populus`, common people. The fact that it is the majority of those who vote at elections that chooses those who will represent the country and make laws, has been challenged by many political theorists (including Robert Dahl, an American and considered as one of the world authorities on issues related to democracy). The solution to this problem has been that the constitutions of states ensure that the rights of every individual are respected. Such countries, where the common people have the right to choose their reps (by majority of 50% plus 1, and there are some really complicated systems that have been introduced here) and where the constitution ensures that a minority is protected, are called democracies, as understood in most countries of the world.

    According to some statistical data, less than one third of the total population votes in the States.

  14. KsDevil

    Every man should try to grow a beard. If not just to find out how it grows. Beards add character to the face and that reflects in how men feel about themselves and within the community. Naturally, beards really should be trimmed and shaped according to how they grow out unlike these guys who let them grow wild.
    Shame on women who don't appreciate a well grown beard...on a man.

  15. KsDevil

    Some women need to discuss out why they dislike beards. Most often they make a walled statement and don't want to discuss it further. But, that is a perfect opportunity to connect with them on a deeper level. you and her may actually discover sometihg more about yourselves, much like these men in the documentary.

  16. KsDevil

    Actually, it's more like a Constitutional Republic dispite the many attempts to ignore that document.
    Also, we are given choices for representation, we are not in charge of decided who the choices will be. (if that makes any sense)
    But, at least, we men have personal freedom to grow our beards as we see fit and the opportunity to learn from the experience.

  17. drinker69

    why are my comments getting deleted?

  18. Achems_Razor

    Why that pending previous one comment was deleted? Swearing like a trooper, at Vlatko yet. Smarten up.

  19. drinker69

    I was trying to get the attention by swearing and still they didn't answer. They must not like the comments because they're good and if someone complains like a whiney child then they will take them down. Real nice. Idiots.

  20. Bob Carter

    after watching I wandered if these men had psyc evals before making this.To the guy that screwed on the cell phones.I guess you never had a deal go worng on line. I wished I lived in your world.The beard had nothing to do with what happened.If you think it did, think again.A beard doesn't make you look like a stupid back woods hick.If you think it does we have had some presidents that must have been stupid.The act of growing a beard doesn't change who you are.I grow my beard from Aug.through May.No one changes there way of thinking about me.Nor do I change the way I think about me or the world.It's just hair.If you smell food in it,WASH IT!Use a napkin when you eat or didn't your mother you anything.

  21. magarac

    Because of this doc i am giving the whole beard thing a try right now. Had a quite short beard before and now i will see where it goes. Only one month in but in combination with not cutting my hair for over one year i must say it´s pretty lovely:)

  22. Ash NA

    Perhaps it's got something to do with having some volition, you know, control over your life. In traditional marriage women control everything.

    Men even have to all dress the same. We have to suppress our individuality and women stand to gain the most from this, which is why they endorse it.

    Go into a store and ask for something other than a suit to wear to the office, just try it... or something other than a tie, ask them: 'what else have you got?' Or try saying, can I have this jacket without the superfluous buttons?

    Try asking them for a fraction of the freedom that women take for granted and then complain about.

  23. Qevyn Gibson

    I watched this one time and haven't shaved since - that was 5 months ago. A truly magical film.

  24. Hekoz

    Women being forced into tight and skimpy clothing doesn't sound like freedom to me. Yes, men have limited options, but at least those options are respected more than what women's clothes are. Furthermore, clothes for women tend to inhibit movement such as high heels and tight jeans.

  25. jack33w

    Once on "Star Trek:The Next Generation," Dr. Beverly Crusher referred to beards as an affectation. But she was wrong. SHAVING is the affectation. Beards are natural.

  26. sknb

    My boyfriend, my brother, and father all have beards. I will show them this.

  27. sknb

    I hear this from my transgender friend all the time.
    And my fashion conscious brother. It's very true.
    My brother is really into vests at the moment.

  28. sknb

    My mom hates my father's beard. Hates. Hates. Hates it. She complains about it every single time I visit them (about once a month). My father lets it grow as long as possible before my mother gets furious, claims she can't take it anymore and that it makes him look old (he IS old lol) and sick and he gets it trimmed. His beard has definitely come to be a huge source of his identity (I'm fairly certain he grew it for religious reasons, but I know its more than that).

    ha. so yeah, marriage is like that.

    Since my father has grown it, so has my brother (who is not religious) and my boyfriend has as well.

    The way I look at it: As long as my boyfriend doesn't expect me to shave then why would I expect him to?

  29. Gary Flater

    I grew one for 8 months last year. Very interesting experience. One friend was worried about me, another thought I was on the verge of homelessnes, and most of my musician friends loved it. It is unconventional, and difficult for persons who are conventional

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