1. Harold and Maude
I’m staring at my computer and trying to figure out what I can say about this movie. This is my favorite movie and has been since the first day watched it. I’m torn with do I break down every piece of this movie or do I stay subtle? Well I guess we’ll figure it out, but just in case, potential Spoiler alerts in this.
I’d heard about Harold and Maude for a few years in high school. It was my film teacher’s favorite movie. He also was a huge fan of Cat Stevens (who did the soundtrack) and would constantly play the song “Sing Out, Sing Out” for us in the TV studio. I already loved aspects of this movie before watching a single frame.
Finally my senior year he showed our film class the movie and it changed my life.
Harold and Maude tells the story of Harold a kid in his 20’s who is obsessed with death and his relationship with the 80 year old Maude. Harold drives a hearse, fakes various suicides to terrify his mother and attends various funerals. While attending a funeral he encounters Maude.
Maude is a free spirited woman who believes you should live your life to the fullest but try not to live past 80. Harold and her bond and she opens up his life with the importance to love and happiness. Harold falls in love with her and decides to propose to her on her birthday. However Maude has already committed suicide, she’s turning 80 and that’s a long enough life.
The movie ends with Harold driving his hearse off a cliff. While you think that he’s dead it’s revealed that he jumped from the Hearse and dances off playing the banjo. Maude’s lesson that life is important and you shouldn’t waste it has finally sank into Harold.
The motif of suicide and death is wonderful. Hal Ashby is able to take a dark subject and make it funny as well as romanticizes it.
However the star of this movie is Maude’s speeches. To write about them would cheapen their beauty. I’m just going to end with this speech which I think is the end all most beautiful piece of cinematic dialogue ever put on celluloid.