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Important Haircut / Live-Action Films

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Important Haircuts in live-action movies.


  • At the end of Gate of Hell, having committed murder and dishonored himself, the samurai protagonist slices off his queue and says he will become a monk.
  • In Mean Girls it happened off screen. After Regina spread the rumor in middle school that Janis was a lesbian, Janis dropped out of school for the rest of the year; when she returned in the fall, "all her hair was cut off, and she was totally weird."
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  • In The Crying Game, Fergus gives Dil a haircut so Dil will look like a man (and thus, to protect Dil from the people hunting Fergus down).
  • In The Parent Trap, Sharon has to cut her hair to pose as Susan.
  • In The Parent Trap, Annie has to cut her hair to pose as Hallie.
  • Example and subversion: In Shaolin Soccer, the hero's main love-interest has two important haircuts - the first one failing badly, and the second one turning her into an unbeatable goalie.
  • In the movie Sliding Doors, the version of Helen that did find her boyfriend in bed with another woman had an Important Haircut, allowing the audience to easily distinguish Single, Empowered, Blonde Helen from Cheated-on, Dowdy, Brunette Helen.
  • Evey Hammond is shaved bald in the V for Vendetta movie at a crucial moment in her character development. A band even named themselves "Natalie Portman's Shaved Head" after this scene. Yes, really.
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  • Parodied in Shoot 'em Up, where the protagonist spots a mook with a ponytail, comments on how much he hates middle aged men with ponytails, then shoots it off of his head.
  • Also parodied in Coming to America; Prince Akeem goes into a barber shop and asks for a "real American haircut". The barber whacks off Akeem's ponytail with one snip of his scissors. "That'll be ten bucks eight dollars."
  • Used to effect at the end of Elizabeth, as Elizabeth I of England declares herself the Virgin Queen.
  • Mickey Knox of Natural Born Killers shaves his head before his interview with Wayne Gayle.
  • The female protagonist of G.I. Jane shaves her head during her special operations training. Demi Moore did the shaving herself on camera. She had very long hair at the time.
  • In Seven Samurai, this serves as Kambei's Establishing Character Moment. Although samurai custom regards shaving one's head and using disguises as dishonorable, Kambei shaves his head and disguises himself as a monk in order to resolve a hostage situation - saving a child he doesn't even know. The Decoy Protagonist peasants immediately decide that he's the man who can save them.
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  • Richie's Important Haircut in The Royal Tenenbaums coincides with an important suicide attempt. He spends most of the movie as a has-been tennis player, and like his siblings wears pretty much the same same hairstyle and clothes as he did when he was young, so the new, shaven style is a sign of his moving on.
  • Smoke Signals had Victor Joseph cut his hair with a folding knife when faced with the family mementos kept by his runaway father. He had previously told his braided traveling companion that long, free-flowing hair is an Indian man's sign of pride.
  • In Willow, Willow's wife Kaia lops off her braid and gives it to him as a keepsake near the start of the movie.
  • In the film of Stardust, Tristan gets a haircut from Captain Shakespeare, symbolising his change from village shop-boy to romantic adventurer. Oddly, this involves him having longer hair, to Tristan's visible surprise.
  • Jim of 28 Days Later shaved and cut his hair at Frank's place, just about when he stopped being the baby of the team and became competent and sure of himself.
  • In Empire Records, Deb comes to work on the day the movie is set, goes into the bathroom, and shaves her head.
  • In Shanghai Noon, the antagonist Lo Fong cuts off Chon Wang's braid, which is a very important status symbol to an Imperial Guard to the Emperor of China. Without this braid, he would not be allowed to return to China on punishment of death, and so because of this, his primary objective changes and he starts to embrace the "Western world". This was absolutely Truth in Television, as noted in the Real Life section below.
  • In the film The Last Emperor, Pu Yi (the last imperial ruler of China) cuts his own braid off, but rather than it being a symbol for the loss of his power it's instead a sign of his resolve to break with the past and take an active role in ruling The Forbidden City (which, up until that point in his life, he had merely been a figurehead ruler for.)
  • Sunshine (2007). After a fight with a fellow crewmember, engineer Mace shaves and cuts his hair short to show that he's going to focus on the mission from now on.
  • In Hostage, our hero played by Bruce Willis starts out as a stressed out big city hostage negotiator with a full, bushy beard and long, unkempt hair. In the second scene he is now a small town police chief who is a stickler about the dress and deportment of his officers; he is clean shave, head and face, having left the insanity of his former job behind.
  • In The Chronicles of Riddick, Riddick begins as a furry man-on-the-run. While he jacks his pursuer's ship and finds the man he thinks hired them, it is just after shaving that he definitively switches from being the hunted to the hunter.
  • In Taxi Driver, Travis Bickle crops his hair short and then shaves it into a mohawk just before his assassination attempt, showing his trip off the deep end.
  • In Mongol, Jamukha shaves his head to mourn the killing of his brother by Temudgin's guards.
  • In The Accused, Sarah Tobias (Jodie Foster) does this after her traumatic gang-rape.
  • In Sleeping with the Enemy, Julia Robert's character cuts her hair as part of her transformation from battered, submissive wife to free woman.
  • In Splendor in the Grass, Deanie (Natalie Wood) cuts her hair, to get rid of her "nice girl" looks.
  • The opening credits for Full Metal Jacket consist of a montage of all the maggots new recruits getting shaved in preparation for basic training.
  • The transformative moment in The Legend of Billie Jean is when Billie Jean hacks off her hair. She goes from a long blond beauty to an avenging rebel. This occurs after she sees The Passion of Joan of Arc; she is adopting the hairstyle of that movie's heroine. More soberingly, Putter does the same thing out of defiance after her mother hits her.
  • The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc has Jeanne invoking this, hacking off her hair with a sword - thinking the soldiers will take her seriously if she looks like a man.
  • The protagonist of Cthulhu (2007), shortly after arriving back in his hometown, shaves his head similar to his estranged father. As this happens early in the movie I'm not sure exactly what it was supposed to symbolise, though it's apparently a case of Real Life Writes the Plot — the actor had shaved his head for another role, yet was playing a college professor).
  • In Talk of the Town, Michael, an eminent law professor, tells Nora that he decided on Growing the Beard years ago, after he graduated from law school. It made him look more serious. Nora later throws this back in Michael's face when Michael won't help Leopold, saying "you've been old your whole life" and telling him to keep the beard. When Michael shaves his beard, he's leaving his rigid principles behind and intervening to help Leopold clear his name.
  • In Blow Dry, Christine (Rachel Leigh Cook) cuts off her own hair so her scheming dad (Bill Nighy) can no longer use her as a hair model in the annual British Hairdressing Championship. This drives home the point that she refuses to help him win by cheating.
  • Susanna from Legends of the Fall did this before she shot herself.
  • Kingdom of Heaven specifically the Director's Cut. Sybillia, Queen of Jeruselum cuts her hair when she renounces her throne after she mercy kills her son before he suffers and dies from leprosy like her brother. Additionally this would have also led to her entering a nunnery to atone for her sins - but Executive Meddling insisted she and Balian end up together.
  • This happens in the sequel to The Boondock Saints. Connor and Murphy MacManus have been in hiding in Ireland for years, growing hair and beards worthy of Christ himself. When they are called out of retirement, they immediately shave it all off, returning to their first-film appearance (with some Perma-Stubble for good measure.) Later, they realize they are easily recognizable now and they wonder why they did it in the first place.
    Murphy: Two days ago we looked like Jesus Christ. What the fuck did we cut our hair for?
    Connor: Yeah that's right. I dunno, just seemed like the thing to do at the time, though, didn't it?
  • In the Star Wars universe, when a Padawan is made a full Jedi Knight, their braid is severed by a lightsaber in their knighting ceremony.
  • In Heaven, Cate Blanchett shaving her head symbolises her meeting her soul-mate. (Who happened to have the same name and a shaved head, too.)
  • In Roman Holiday, Audrey Hepburn's character Ann cuts off her long, princessy locks in favour of a fun, trendy style, representing her momentary attempt to fulfill her longing to be an ordinary girl.
  • In The A-Team, after breaking B.A. out of prison, the others give him a razor but he simply cuts his hair short rather than into his usual mohawk, as he now rejects the violence it represented to him. Later, after he accepts that violence can be right and necessary, this shift is emphasized by the dramatic reveal of the mohawk's return.
  • In The Candidate, one of the first signs that Robert Redford's principled-liberal-insurgent title character is starting to get co-opted by the system is when he gets a haircut.
  • In Frida, Salma Hayek's titular character gets drunk and cuts her hair in reaction to her marriage failing and then creates a well known painting of the event.
  • In The Long Kiss Goodnight, Geena Davis's character has an Important Haircut (while also dying it blonde) after we've seen the Charly Baltimore personality completely take over (or appear to) and the Samantha Caine personality disappear (maybe).
  • In Single White Female, Jennifer Jason Leigh's character Hedy gets a short haircut and has it dyed red at a salon similar to Bridget Fonda's character Allie in order to be more like her. She later dyes it back to brunette while holding Allie hostage.
  • In horror/coming-of-age film Excision, disturbed teenager Pauline gives herself one of these right before she performs a lung transplant on her little sister in the garage.
  • In Princess of Thieves, Gwyn gives herself one when she decides to follow after Robin, in an attempt to follow him to war. It does have a practical reason - to pass as a boy - but it symbolises Gwyn becoming more independent.
  • Near the end of Withnail & I, Marwood (a.k.a. "I") cuts off his unruly curls for a more upstanding, adult 'do. Not only is this more appropriate for his first professional stage role (the lead, no less), it also symbolizes his moving on with his life and leaving Withnail behind.
  • Police Academy parodied this with two new recruits shaving their hair into buzzcuts - only to find out they didn't need to.
    "This ain't the army, you know."
  • We're the Millers: David's transformation from drug dealer to wholesome American father.
  • Used in a similar fashion to an After Action Patchup in The Bourne Identity. After surviving an attempted assassination and a Car Chase by Paris police, Bourne decides to change Marie's look by rinsing the dye from her hair in the shower, then cutting her hair short. The close contact between them after the day's excitement leads to their first love scene.
  • In the 2011 movie of Coriolanus the Volscian soldiers start shaving their heads in imitation of Coriolanus, and the 'gold throne' from the play is the barber's chair they use for this initiation. The bearded Volscian leader Aufidius is not happy.
  • Subverted in The Room. A lot of attention is paid to Mark shaving his beard (complete with dramatic music), but it signifies nothing. At all.
  • The title character of Sabrina loses her ponytail after a classmate at culinary school encourages her to act more self-confident and worldly, in order to win the heart of her crush. In the remake, Sabrina doesn't have a ponytail, but a huge mop that conceals her face. It's no wonder said crush genuinely doesn't recognize her when he first sees post-snip.
  • In Lords of Dogtown, Jay shaving his head symbolizes his transformation from a teenage surf and skateboard enthusiast into a violent hooligan.
  • In the film Ocean of Pearls a Sikh doctor is up for a promotion - but fears he won't be chosen due to his turban (in a post 9/11 America). He makes a radical decision to chop off his waist length hair. Sikhs traditionally don't cut their hair at all and are required to wear it in a turban 24/7.
  • In Catwoman, when Patience Philips discovers newfound confidence after gaining her cat powers - the first thing she does is impulsively chop her long hair short, don lots more make-up and wear a Spy Catsuit.
  • In The Namesake, Gogol shaves his head after Ashoke dies, which is a traditional way of mourning in Hinduism- a sign that he is starting to come around to embracing his family's traditions. In a brief flashback, we also see Ashoke shaving his head after his father dies (as Gogol watches).
  • In Robin Hood (1991), Marian cuts her hair when she runs away to Sherwood Forest. This symbolises the moment when her allegiance shifts from the Normans to Robin and the Saxons.
  • In The Nun's Story, Sister Luke gets her long, luxuriant brown hair cut off after Taking the Veil.
  • In Joy the titular Joy cuts her hair to shoulder length as she is about to bust her competitors for fraud and get all her money back.
  • The Martian: Mark Watney grows a Beard of Barbarism while stranded on Mars, but shaves it off just before launching the MAV for a high-risk rendezvous with the Hermes.
  • Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice: Lex Luthor in this version originally had a head full of hair. After imprisoned, his head is shaven bald, giving him the traditional Bald of Evil look.
  • Happens at the very start of Boys Don't Cry. Teena Brandon has just had a short haircut to transition into becoming Brandon Teena.
  • The Divide has Josh and Bobby shaving their heads after radiation poisoning has made some of their hair fall out. It marks the official transition to outright becoming villains, having gone mad from the cabin fever.
  • In both the film and book of The Divergent Series: Insurgent, Tris cuts her hair as a reaction to the trauma she suffered in Divergent. In the book it's cut to shoulder-length, but it's a pixie in the filmnote  - but by The Divergent Series: Allegiant it has now grown out to shoulder-length, symbolising how she has overcome the trauma.
  • Passengers (2016): Jim shaves off his Time-Passage Beard that he gained after being alone on the ship for a year before he wakes up Aurora from her crypod.
  • Thor: Ragnarok features Thor getting an unwanted Important Haircut from Stan Lee's cameo right before he has to fight in the arena. Notably he doesn't demonstrate the ability to conjure lightning by himself until after the haircut.
  • In She's All That part of Laney's makeover to look more popular involves having her hair cut to a trendier shoulder-length style.
  • Doctor Strange (2016). The clean-shaven Strange grows a messy Beard of Sorrow after his hands are ruined in an accident, and he loses his ability to wield a scalpel let alone a straight razor. He trims it back to a well-kept goatee after finding new purpose as a sorcerer (using an electric razor).
  • Logan. While he is unconscious, the mutant children cut Wolverine's Beard of Sorrow down to his classic mutton chop design. Though it's done as a prank, it also shows how he is still one of the legendary X-Men in their eyes instead of a Jaded Washout. Sure enough Wolverine rallies himself to protect the children in the final act.
  • The film How To Deal has the teenage heroine cutting her hair after her father's mistress compliments it and says never to cut it. This was a Throw It In! by producers, as Mandy Moore got a short haircut for the role and thought it fit the character; they compromised by having her wear extensions for the first half of the film.
  • The end of Camelot the musical reveals that Guinevere has become a nun. She herself reveals this by taking down her hood and showing that her long golden tresses have been cut short.
  • In Colette, Willy makes Colette cut off her long hair and get a crop like Polaire, who is currently playing Claudine on stage.
  • The Chilean movie La Buena Vida features a young musician who gets employed by the military philharmonic orchestra. He also has to sacrifice his shoulder length hair to a buzz cut. As does his long-haired friend who also gets the job (and also has to sacrifice his beard).
  • In Firestorm (1998), Shaye cuts of his back length 'Charles Manson' style hair before undergoing his Dye or Die transformation to take Davis' place.


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