DUST OFF THE REEL: Hairspray (1988) remains classic

DUST OFF THE REEL: Hairspray (1988) remains classic


Reputable director John Waters had his breakthrough moment with his film Hairspray. Since that film, there has been a musical adaption and a remake that gained a lot more recognition. Few people, unless they have extensive knowledge of film, know that the play and remake were based off the original John Waters masterpiece.

What makes this one shine compared to its others adaptation is that it keeps you entertained with the lack of song and dance numbers. There is dancing obviously since that’s what the whole movie is based around but they don’t feature matching songs.

For the time it featured an all star cast with Ricki Lake as Tracy Turnblad and Divine, the drag queen, as her mother Edna. Divine was a trailblazer in the drag community as she was one of the first to be in a feature film, and probably one of the ugliest drag queens as well. It even stars Debbie Harry, yes Blondie herself, as Velma Von Tussle.

I think, in my opinion, what makes Hairspray so iconic is its colorful and symmetrical cinematography. Waters perfected this before Wes Anderson was even a thought. This in combination with the fun and spunky sense of humor that was frowned upon before this film.