Harold and Maude



As with most of my other reviews, I'll tell you what I think about a movie before I go into details about the film itself. Bottom line: 'Harold and Maude' is my favorite movie of all time. The first time I saw it (in my mid teens), I was absolutely floored. Generally catagorized as "dark humour", 'Harold and Maude' is a great mix of comedy, angst, tragedy, and hope. Most people I know either love it or hate it; at one point in my life, I actually recorded the audio track from VHS to cassette so I could listen to it during long drives (anything over 90 minutes). In short, I've probably watched this movie at least 150 times in its entirety. Yes, I'm weird that way.

Harold Chasen (Bud Cort) is a 19 or 20 year old "rich kid", perpetually bored and obsessed with death. Either for his mother's (Vivian Pickles) attention or his own amusement (or what seems to be both), Harold stages "suicides" in a variety of ways. In the movie's opening scene, Harold ceremoniously "hangs" himself in his own home. When his mother enters the scene, she examines the situation and tells him "dinner is at eight, Harold.. and do try to be a little more... vivacious." Later, Harold apparently cuts his own throat in his mother's bathtub, drowns himself, and sets himself on fire (during an "interview" with a blind date). Although apparently distrought at times, Mrs. Chasen views Harold's actions as whimsical and she doesn't seem to understand his actions.

Harold's fascination with death leads him to visit random funerals. During one, he meets a "little old lady" with a unique perspective on life. Maude (Ruth Gordon) is everything Harold isn't; she's experienced in life, relatively cultured, and at least in her own mind, free. As perplexed as Harold is with their initial meeting (where Maude steals a priest's VW bug), he's also fascinated. As they spend more time together, Harold's negative outlook on life is evened out by Maude's "here today, gone tomorrow" thoughts and actions. In a scene in a daisy field, Maude tells Harold:

You see, Harold, I feel that much of the world's sorrow comes from people who are *this*,
(slight pause as Maude points at a flower)
yet allow themselves be treated as *that* (waves her hand away)

Eventually, Harold and Maude fall in love.

Forgot to mention: Maude is 79 years old. *blink* And she has a secret.

I'll not give away the end of the story. Will just say that it's gripping and beautifully told. The one stop-frame scene at the near-end of the movie lasted forever the first time I saw it.. now, 150 times later, it's still a heart-stopping scene.. but then it all gets better. Watch the movie to see what I mean. ;)

Major, MAJOR kudos for the score provided by Cat Stevens. Despite political controversy due to his endorsement of action against Salman Rushdie in years past, the music behind the movie was absolutely perfect for the film at the time it was produced. "Don't Be Shy", "Tea for the Tillerman", and "Trouble" were well placed and enhance the film in its most dramatic spots. And yes, I also purchased many Cat Stevens recordings after seeing this movie. Wonderful stuff.

Lyger's Rating: 5+

Lyger's Guide:

1 = mafiaboy (raw ass)
2 = Pauly Shore (hey, I liked Encino Man..)
3 = Japanese wrestling (fun to watch for a couple hours)
4 = Mitnick's nipples (whoo-hoo)
5 = OMFG RAWR (you buy it, watch it repeatedly, and sleep with it under your pillow)


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